Janene Simmons joined the girls on her computer screen as they spread a homemade mixture on their faces during a Zoom session.
Simmons, a facilitator for the Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Lansing Outreach Program, was teaching the girls how to make face masks, face scrubs and lip gloss as part of the troop’s lessons about self-care and wellness. Laughter came across the computer speakers.
“Doing Girl Scouts has really involved me with so many girls,” said Simmons, who has been leading a virtual troop due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It makes me feel like I’m the big sister. I have a whole bunch of little sisters and they teach me something new about myself.”
The Lansing Outreach program will virtually host its Girl Scout community troops until Dec. 4, when programming ends for the year.
“I feel like when you hear the word Girl Scout it means leader and that it’s a nice thing in general — and I’ve always wanted to camp with someone who isn’t family, just being a part of Girl Scouts is fun, like making lip gloss,” eighth-grader Jolie Hall-Perreault said.
Girls from second through eighth grades in the wellness program are learning about the importance of taking care of themselves, outreach specialist Ashleigh Apel said.
Heart of Michigan is the largest council in the state, with participating cities including Lansing, Apel said. She said the organization bridges a pathway for girls in communities with limited access to funds and transportation.
Before the pandemic, the outreach program set up community troops by recruiting them into schools and community centers. Troops would meet after school, during lunch and at recess, Apel said. By participating in their programs, the girls become members of girl scouts. They have grants and scholarships that help fund the program with that money it pays for the membership fee, Apel said.
“It’s an amazing experience, especially with the population I work with,” Apel said. “A lot of these girls have very hard home lives, some might struggle with food and security. We have had some girls who had been homeless for a period of time. These girls are very resilient, but Girl Scouts give them that opportunity to be even more resilient and overcome those challenges they are experiencing.”