Girl Scouts celebrate realignment at Lamar-Dixon

Wade McIntyre
Yvette Hairston, on stage, left, and Tonya Armbruster, with Girl Scouts Louisiana East, throw T-shirts to girls who answered questions during a 23-parish scouting meeting at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales unday. The event was the organization’s first since the merger of the New Orleans and Baton Rouge area Girl Scout Councils.

An estimated 1,200 Girl Scouts met Sunday in Ascension Parish to celebrate the birth of a new Girl Scout Council created by the merging of the Baton Rouge Audubon Council and the Girl Scout Council of Southeast Louisiana.

The event, held at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center marked the first meeting of girls from Girl Scouts Louisiana East, an organization now made up of 23 parishes.

“Today represents a pulling together of our resources and building strength to make Girl Scouts bigger and stronger,” said Yvette Hairston, vice president of Program at GSLE. “It is also marks the first time the girls have gotten together to have fun.”

Having fun inside the Trade Mart building meant girls singing and dancing, a fashion show, science experiments, underwater and space games, and fitness activities.

The event was free, and non-girl scout friends of scouts were invited. The girls were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for the Second Harvest Food Banks Scare Away Hunger Food Drive.

At one of the most popular attractions, 30 to 35 girls at a time crawled inside a dark igloo shaped portable planetarium for a galaxy show hosted by Sean Spansel and Rhonda Hollen of the Children’s Museum.

Outside of the building, Firefighter Nichole Jacks with the Gonzales Fire Department guided a steady stream of girls on a tour of a department fire truck.

At one point, Diane Deroche, troop  leader for the newly formed Troop 576 of Des Allemands, explained that her girls were on the first field trip they had ever taken as scouts.

“They are having the best time,” she said, snapping photos as one of the girls, Desiree Delhommer, 10, hopped into a firefighter suit and was quickly surrounded by her friends who wanted to try the suit on themselves.

The realignment of the two councils into one “high capacity council” is part of a national movement within the national Girl Scouts organization to reduce the number of councils, according to Carmen Griffin of GSLE.

“Nationally, we are down from 300 councils to about 109 councils,” said GLSE’s Cathy Pottschmidt. “The high capacity councils reduce overhead and increase program opportunities.”

GLSE serves girls ages 5 to 17 in Ascension and 22 other south Louisiana parishes. Girl Scouting’s mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

Girl Scouts Calista Asher, left, and Michelle Parr were interested in the channel simulation exhibit made of water and walnut shells during the Girl Scout Extravaganza at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center Sunday. Amanda Vincent of the Department of Environmental Quality Water Assessment Division explained the workings of the exhibit to girls at the event.