Jul. 9—MOREHEAD — It's not just family that bonds Marge Thomas to her daughter and granddaughter: It's Girl Scouts.
The three have been involved in the organization since Marge Thomas' youth.
The Williamsburg native grew up as a scout in the Wilderness Road council, earning badges, selling cookies and making friends. She eventually earned Girl Scouting's highest award, the Gold Award, which was then known as the Curved Bar.
"Girl Scouts teaches and provides for girls of all backgrounds, but the organization benefited me most when I watched my daughter and granddaughter become Girl Scouts," she said, noting she's been involved with the organization for 60 years.
Marge Thomas raised her daughter, Susan, in Morehead, where Susan joined the troop her mother led. Susan said it changed her life.
"When I joined the Girl Scouts, I had the opportunity to try new things," she said, admitting she was a cautious girl. "I loved working towards badges and the experiences were especially meaningful when they were outdoors."
The younger Thomas attended Camp Judy Layne near Morehead, where her troop went sailing and canoeing. "At camp, I truly became interested in nature and the outdoors," she said. She built her confidence and became more willing to take risks.
"Camp was challenging, but it inspired me to be a better person," she said. "When I grew older and became a Troop Leader, I watched so many girls leave of camp with a higher level of confidence."
Like her mother, she became the leader for her daughter's troop.
Maggie Alden joined as a Daisy with her mom leading and her grandmother assistant leader, making three generations in one troop. Like her mother, she attended Camp Judy Layne.
"I was never comfortable climbing the rock wall, but I always did it because I knew it was a safe place to fail," Alden, who attended camp every summer until she graduated high school, said.
Susan Thomas recalled night hikes with the troop, during which time she encouraged the Scouts to be quiet and listen for wildlife.
"One little girl would not stop talking — she was asking questions about the world around her. I still remember how much her face lit up," Susan Thomas said
In 2019, Alden became a Junior Camp Counselor and in 2020, she became part of Camp Counselor staff. "Working at camp exposed me to hardships. As camp counselors, we were responsible for many young girls. I learned quickly that I had to embrace my inner leader," she said.
Now a college student, Alden said her camp experiences continue to benefit her.
"I am often faced with new situations. Girl Scouts taught me to be myself and to become comfortable in situations outside of my comfort zone," Alden, who is working toward a bachelor of science degree in wildlife science at The State University of New York College (SUNY), said. She said she hopes to return to Morehead and lend her knowledge to help the community. "The desire to help the world, to help other people, and to not accept things the way that they are stems from my time in Girl Scouts," Alden said.
Susan Thomas is now a lifetime member. "I always go back to thinking about that little girl on the hike," Susan Thomas said. "Our young leaders should experience the world like she did."
After leading her daughter's troop, Marge Thomas became the Fund Drive Chairman for the Girl Scouts of Kentucky's Wilderness Road and, in 2015, she became the County Cookie Chairman for three years, where she helped with the process of selling, organizing, and delivering Girl Scout cookies.
"As a Lifetime Member, I feel a genuine responsibility to the organization. I want to help build successful, strong women," Marge Thomas said.
Though the three women have had different Girl Scout experiences, they each emphasized how Girl Scouts is the critical building block to a lifetime of opportunities. "Girl Scouts is an integral part of our lives," Alden said. "I am a Girl Scout, my mother is a Girl Scout, my grandmother is a Girl Scout and that will stay with us forever."
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