Girl Scouts of Alaska thriving amid national enrollment decline

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Girl Scouts are on a mission to keep "empowering girls." Despite challenges that come with life in the digital age, many of the national trends affecting participation in groups like Girl Scouts don't seem to be impacting troops in Alaska.

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At Girl Scouts Camp Singing Hills in Chugiak Thursday, dozens of girls work in pairs, exploring nature and allowing imagination to guide them through the surrounding forest.

"We've been doing lots of cool stuff, we went hiking, we went canoeing the day before and today we caught some frogs," said Kayla Lobb of Troop 1136.

The girls aren't just learning, they're experiencing. "We even found a dead bird and had to bury it," Lobb said.

But life in the modern age comes with its challenges for youth organizations and sports leagues.

The Associated Press claims busy family schedules, the lure of social media and online gaming have made it difficult to keep kids engaged in the physical world. In Alaska, the data seems to reflect a different reality.

This year alone, Girl Scouts of Alaska added specialty camps focused on animal science, chemistry and engineering. "They have literally been oversubscribed, we have waitlists for many of those camps — girls and parents give us feedback this is what they enjoy," Sue Perles, CEO for Girl Scouts Alaska said.

Some recruitment efforts reflect the organization’s pride in the diversity of their membership. In the Mat-Su Valley, Girl Scouts launched an after school program at schools with high percentages of low-income students.

Nationally, new patches added in recent years reflect a change in what girls seem to want.

"Girl Scouts was not a mission with a given focus," Perles said. "It's a movement and it should change and be current with the times, that it should respond to the needs of girls and Girl Scouts nationally and certainly here in Alaska we have done a fantastic job of meeting the needs that our girls will have in the future."

The Girl Scouts summer camp programs are open to any girl.

The Associated Press contributed information to this article.

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