For as long as she can remember, being a Girl Scout has been a part of Anna Schecterson’s identity.
That’s because the East Mecklenburg High School senior, 17, has been a member of the same troop since she was a kindergartner.
Schecterson is not alone. The remaining seven members (two graduated from high school last year and are now in college) are all high school seniors and have all been in the same troop together since they were 5 or 6 years old.
“We have grown up together,” said Krista Peterson, 17, a senior at Providence High School whose mother, Susan, 54, is a troop leader along with Schecterson’s mother, Leslie, 56.
“We went through our awkward middle school years together,” Peterson said. “That makes you close.”
The girls used to meet at Matthews Methodist Church, where the troop was formed, but they now alternate between the troop leaders’ homes or meet at a restaurant or venue for one of their activities.
Isabella Swic, 16, a senior at Charlotte Latin School, joined the troop because, she said, “I was shy and my mom thought it would be a good way for me to make friends.”
She was right. The girls, who hail from five different high schools, feel as if they are reuniting with old friends when they get together every other week.
We have grown up together.
Krista Peterson, Providence High School senior
Susan Peterson credits the diversity of the group for its longevity.
“One of the reasons it has worked,” she said, “is that they don’t go to the same school. They don’t see each other every day and that makes it special.”
The girls also value their differences.
“We approach things differently and are good at different things,” said Hannah Rogers, 17, a senior at Covenant Day School.
“The outgoing mix with the shy,” said Swic, who counts herself among the latter. “We all connect. And the fact that we’ve been together so long means we’re really comfortable with each other.”
Their early years were more formal, when the girls were intent on getting badges for their vests and making it to the next level. As they progressed from Daisy Scouts to Brownies to Girl Scouts, the girls worked on community service projects together and all earned their bronze and silver status. They have hosted meetings and events for younger troops, volunteered together at Girl Scout initiatives like World Thinking Day and Booboo Bunny and local causes like Joy Prom and Operation Christmas Child. They have also sold many, many Girl Scout cookies.
The troop has also traveled together, near and far, on multiple camping trips, to nearby cities like Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., and as far as San Francisco and even European cities.
As the girls matured, the nature of the troop and its focus changed. They abandoned their vests in middle school, but they find that there is a certain cache now for having stuck with the troop throughout the years.
They still devote about half of their time to community service projects, but the rest, said Susan Peterson, is “all about fellowship.”
Much of the fellowship in this, their final year together, is spent laughing about what went awry.
“It’s the mistakes that make us laugh,” Swic said. “And we always remember them.”
It has been a great journey. I am so fond of all of them.
Leslie Schecterson, mother of Girl Scout Anna
Macy Jones, 17, a senior at Butler High School, appreciates the troop leaders’ positive attitudes that made even the mishaps, like a botched flag ceremony or a missed bus on a trip, fun. “They made even the unexpected twists and turns to be looked back on fondly,” she said. “I will forever be grateful to them.”
“We’re not a well-oiled machine,” Krista Peterson said. “But we get where we need to be.”
All of the girls are particularly nostalgic about their camping trips, which they describe as “singing, s’mores and skits.”
They are going to try to squeeze one more in this spring before they graduate and part ways. And they are already planning reunions and keeping the traditions alive.
“We hope our girls will one day be in a troop, too,” Swic said.
“But,” Jones said, “they won’t be able to be in one this cool.”
Katya Lezin is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.