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Local Girl Scout troop 02498 is experiencing the fruits of its labors - for the past five years, participation has grown consistently and now nearly 50 girls are on the roster now. It has become such a well-established and well-received program that it has outgrown its current meeting space. Now, the troop needs a new home to accommodate its increased size.

Five years ago, the troop didn't exist. Bethany Boyle and Lisa Nowell were attending a Girl Scout recruitment night at the urging of their daughters, Sienna Boyle and Katie Nowell, when they decided to start a troop because there were no open troops for the more than 50 girls who attended.

"All of a sudden, I'm getting a look from Lisa and we both knew what had to be done," said Boyle. Before she knew it, Nowell grabbed her arm to raise it, saying "We will start a troop." Boyle and Nowell have served as troop leaders ever since.

The two women envisioned a thriving program for girls ages 5 to 18 years, using the well-established guidelines of Girl Scouts that have worked well since 1912.  "It isn't an easy task being a troop leader, yet I love every minute of it," Boyle said. "I've had the honor of watching some amazing girls in our community grow into strong leaders."

In its earliest days, the troop met in the art room at Black Mountain Primary School. Before long, the troop moved to the Carver Center, a space originally established as a school. The center offered separated classrooms for small group work. For years, the town of Black Mountain has been supportive of the troop, making the Carver Center space available for the troop's Friday meetings and providing additional support.

"The troop does awesome things and is a great supporter of the town's recreation goals," said Jill Edwards, a recreation program staff member.  "The troop leaders are always willing to be flexible and are just grateful for whatever space we can offer, and the support and opportunities we share with them."

Now, they simply need more space than is available at Carver on Fridays, Edwards said.

Sienna Boyle, 11, loves everything about Girl Scouts. From camping to archery, going to Girl Scout camp, earning badges and doing projects in the community, "there is never a day when you are bored at Girl Scouts," she said. For the past five years, the program has been one of her favorite activities and served as a place for her to make new friends of different ages.

The Girl Scout program combines fun with purpose and is based on the Girl Scout Promise and Law, followed since the program's founding in 1912 by generations of girls, according to the Girl Scouts Peaks to Piedmont website. "Through activities in science and technology, business and economic literacy and outdoor and environmental awareness, Girl Scouting provides girls with opportunities for fun and friendship, while fostering development of leadership skills and self-esteem," the site states.

During the school year, the troop gathers the second and fourth Fridays each month from 6-8 p.m. After their opening ceremony activities, they split off into age groups - Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes and Seniors. In their age groups, they work on skills that lead to badges. They plan activities and sometimes head outdoors or into the community for an activity. Older girls help teach the younger ones. Adult volunteer leaders guide the girls. In the process, skills are learned and relationships with peers and adults are formed and strengthened . Adequate adult supervision is ensured.

The wish list for a new troop meeting home includes a large meeting room and four smaller classroom-type spaces close by. The use of a kitchen and some outside play space are on the list as well, Boyle said.  A contributed space would be ideal because Troop 02498 is a "no dues" troop, meaning the girls raise funds to operate the program, the leaders said. The troop is accustomed to helping give back to groups that help them.

Girls are also involved in outdoor activities like hiking, community service projects, the Black Mountain Christmas parade and more girl fun. The troop is very active in town and has been a leader in setting goals. It is also the number one Girl Scout cookie seller in Buncombe County.

If you know of a place or want to volunteer to help lead (and for membership info), contact Nowell at 386-689-7682 or Boyle at 828-545-7409.

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