Thursday, May 25, 2017

Staying Home with Girl Scouts

May is Homeschool Awareness Month. Andrea Kinnear, a Girl Scout troop leader out of Norfolk, helps run a troop of approximately 45 homeschooled girls ranging from Daisies to Seniors. Using the flexible hours that come with homeschooling, Andrea is able to go more in depth on badge topics than is covered in the badge itself.

“Many of the badges, such as the Animal Habitat badge, flow well into science and humanities curricula at home,” Andrea said.

And, the girls are able to take numerous field trips while earning badges and fun patches. Strawberry picking and a trip to the Chrysler Museum of Art Glass Studio have been some of their recent memorable trips.

Andrea's daughter, Elsa, who is a member of the troop, used the malleability of her homeschool schedule to work on a project to earn the Bronze Award, the third highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouts. She created the Explore Bike Norfolk patch to promote biking in Norfolk.

“Elsa was able to meet Girl Scout council staff to discuss her goal,” Andrea said. “Her schedule permitted her to meet with council staff during the day, contact officials with the City of Norfolk during work hours, promote her project on HearSay with WHRO and participate in the City’s photography ad campaign.”

Andrea has been a troop leader for four years. This year, she shifted her volunteer role to focus on supporting the troop through the Girl Scout Cookie Program. This winter, she coordinated more than 25 cookie booths for the troop.

“As homeschoolers we are able to open booths during the day, Andrea said. “The Norfolk Commissary and the Old Dominion University bookstore are our favorite weekday booths.”

The flexibility of a homeschool schedule also allows the troop members to take part in a variety of projects to help improve the community. The troop meets at the Unitarian Church in Norfolk, and the girls have helped maintain the church property through a wide variety of projects, from insulating pipes for winterization to beautifying the grounds by planting flowers. The troop has also donated food to the Ronald McDonald House and has donated cookies to the USO, For Kids and more.

By incorporating Girl Scouts into their homeschooling schedule, the Kinnear Family is able to take part in a wide variety of activities and be a part of an organization that gives girls opportunities to be go-getters, innovators, risk-takers and leaders.