“It was an amazing, amazing experience,” said Cat Fedorchek, Girl Scout Troop 50651 leader, recently about her troop’s trek across Europe during the school district’s April break.
Yet the trip was more than one experience: it represented years of effort. The trip came about thanks to years of fundraisers and participating in the community, according to Ms Fedorchek, and each Girl Scout Troop 50651 member had a moment during the trip to revel in all that planning.
After traveling to places like Boston and New York City, Ms Fedorchek said her troop members decided when they were freshmen in high school that they wanted to “cross the pond… to headquarters in London.”
At the time, Ms Fedorchek said the girls were working on their Silver Award. Ms Fedorchek recalls telling the girls then that they had been Girl Scouts since kindergarten, and asked them to consider what they want to complete while Girl Scouts in high school.
The girls eventually worked out the details of what their trip would include. They wanted a trip that wouldn’t be like a family vacation, Ms Fedorchek said, and they wanted to go to a number of countries. The troop looked at the option of backpacking and staying at hostels, as well as visiting different countries before deciding on England, France, and Spain, according to Ms Fedorchek.
The trip to Europe included ten girls and five chaperones, and ended up costing $47,000, according to Ms Fedorchek, who added that the troop raised $15,000 in four years to make the trip possible. Parents contributed about half of the funding for the excursion.
To raise money, Ms Fedorchek said the troop organized tag sales, like the large tag sale during the town’s Labor Day Parade, held carwashes, and organized adventures for local Girl Scout troops. Troop 50651 members also created baskets to sell during Annual Holiday Festival, and Ms Fedorchek said those baskets “caught on really quick.” The girls searched for items throughout the year that were “Christmas themed” to add to the baskets that they would later sell for $10.
Throughout the last four years, Ms Fedorchek said the girls knew they would eventually reach their goal and head to Europe.
“They are such leaders,” Ms Fedorchek said of her troop’s members. “They work, they go to school… they are so involved in the community personally, and do this to volunteer in their spare time is huge.”
Troop 50651 members are Amy Anyoha, Aspen Kraushaar, Bethany Dubois, Grace Clark, Katie Wojcik, Lauren Henchcliffe, Mary Kate Halmose, Jamie Duncan, Paige Fedorchek, and Ryan Cassin. Parent chaperones who ventured to Europe with the troop were Ms Fedorchek, Andrea Henchcliffe, Sandra Anyoha, Marie Cassin, and Lynn Wojcik.
Each of the girls in the troop earned their Silver Awards, and four have already earned their Gold Awards. Others are continuing to work toward their Gold Awards before a Gold Ceremony in June.
‘It was surreal’
When the trip finally came, the girls ventured through three countries in ten days. They landed in London on April 11.
The tour company, Education First, offered an all-inclusive option for the trip. According to Ms Fedorchek, plane tickets and meals, with the exception of lunches, were handled by the company.
In London, troop members began their trip by visiting Pax Lodge, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
“While we were there we met some truly amazing people,” Ms Fedorchek said.
The troop took park in a pilot program called Three Being Me, which Ms Fedorchek said had the girls create skits to earn the first badge ever to be offered through the program. The program promotes true beauty and confidence, according to Ms Fedorchek.
While visiting Pax Lodge the girls made their way outside where they posed for a photo under a cherry tree while holding a copy of The Newtown Bee, a Girl Scout banner from Newtown, and “Flat Juliet,” the troop’s version of Flat Stanley, a children’s book character that has inspired a project to send Flat Stanley’s around the world.
After London, the troop was in Paris for a few days before traveling to Spain.
Ms Fedorchek said her group visited landmarks like Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and later took a bicycle tour through Barcelona.
Each girl had “her moment” while on the trip, according to Ms Fedorchek.
“It was emotional, it was surreal,” said Ms Fedorchek. “I was so pleased to see them, to actually be part of something that they worked so hard for and sacrificed many, many weekends [for].”
The places visited were all places they had studied while in school, said Ms Fedorchek.
Ms Fedorchek also said the trip represented a “good goal,” something to foster the idea of thinking “beyond” and realizing how one can impact the community.
With the trip accomplished, she said she told her girls to imagine what they can do five years from now, ten years from now, and said she hopes they will continue to push their boundaries while in college.
Now back from the trip, Ms Fedorchek said her troop still meets, and its members use social media, through a Facebook account, to keep in touch with e-mails and newsletters.
To help pay family members back for helping to fund the troop, the troop members are still fundraising. Ms Fedorchek said a car wash has been set for May 24 at Berkshire Motors, 25 Berkshire Road, Sandy Hook, with times to be determined.
Ms Fedorchek said her slogan she has always shared with their Girl Scouts is, “If you believe it and you dream it, you can create it.”