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Naknek Girl Scouts lead the way in Alaska candy sales

Hannah HeimbuchThe Arctic Sounder

Naknek's Girl Scouts have done it again.

For the second year in a row they've made a name for themselves as Alaska's top troop in Girl Scout nut and candy sales.

Their success has popped up on news sources around the country, as neighbors and strangers alike congratulate the rural troop on their hard work.

The nut and candy sales are in addition to the usual cookies — much loved by sweet fiends across America — and the Naknek girls started including them in their sales last year. Those treats get sold to friends and family only, rather than the public hot spots troops usually appear.

"When girls in Naknek sell nuts and candy, and cookies, they are learning skills that will help them in the future," said Alaska Girl Scouts Communications Director Ann Gore. "They learn how to set goals and raise money to achieve that goal.  They learn how to manage money.  They learn customer service skills, and they learn how to work with one another to achieve their group goal."

They hope to attend a scout camp in the Mat-Su Valley with the money raised.

Gore attributes the girls success to strong community support and the fact that the girls are so strongly motivated to go to the sleep-away camp.

The girls' success has been especially noteworthy because of their rural location. Isolated troops can come with their own set of challenges, when compared to the city-based troops.

"Some of the challenges rural troops face include the remote location, far from the Anchorage-based service center," Gore said. "But, with computers and internet and phone access, our staff do our best to stay in close contact with rural troops and provide as much support and assistance as possible. Also, with support from corporate and individual donors, we can send staff to rural communities to provide summer camp programs, and bring special programs like our Women of Science and Technology Day to rural locations."

The girls in Naknek have proved that the answer isn't always location, location, location.

"The Naknek Troop is an example to other troops in the region because of their dedication and hard work," Gore said. "One of the things we teach in Girl Scouting is that 'one girl can make a difference, but together they can change the world.'  By setting more challenging goals, sometimes things don't work out the way you planned.  But, with persistence, and determination, and by working together and asking for help, you can accomplish great things."

There are more than 5,000 Alaska girls in 88 communities around the state participating in Girl Scouts. Twenty-three of those communities are in southwest Alaska.

The hard-working youngsters are known best for their iconic cookies, but they have a host of other purposes and programs.

"What many people might not know, however," Gore said, "is that Girl Scouts is the world's most successful organization dedicated to creating female leaders, and what a difference Girl Scouting can make in a girl's life. Girl Scouts' mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.  Every program, event, and activity is designed with three keys to leadership in mind:  helping girls discover themselves and new experiences, connect to others, and take action to create positive change."

This article originally appeared in the Bristol Bay Times and has been republished here with permission. Hannah Heimbuch can be reached at hheimbuch@reportalaska.com