One Pennsylvania Girl Scout is the epitome of “once you’re a scout, you’re always a scout,” as she has spent 88 years serving with the community service organization.
At the age of 98, Veronica “Ronnie” Backenstoe still dawns her green beret and even sells Girl Scout cookies. She joined the Girl Scouts back in 1931, which was no surprise because it actually ran in the family.
“Well, I had two older brothers, who were Boy Scouts and my father was their scoutmaster. So every week when they’d get on their uniforms and go out the door, I’d go to my mother [and ask], ‘when can I join the Girl Scouts?’ Backenstoe tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “And she’d say, ‘when you’re 10 years old.’”
So in 1931, at age 10, Backenstoe officially became a Girl Scout. But back then, the dues were only five cents, which did not leave much of a budget for activities. Luckily, just a short time after she joined, Backenstoe’s troop began to sell cookies for the first time.
“Well we decided by selling cookies we could make a lot more money,” she says. “But we did not believe in Girl Scouts going out and asking for money. So we put the cookies there and [we’d] give you cookies for your money.”
Though Backenstoe has countless fond memories from her over the years with Girl Scouts, she admitted that one of her most memorable experiences happened in 1965 when she was chosen to take a group of girls to Jamaica. The trip was for a conference where they would get to meet other Girl Scouts from around the world, which created lasting friendships.
“We had parades, oh, they had everything! It was just lovely,” Backenstoe says. “We all brought our own flags, but I met girls there that I still correspond with. [Girls] from Australia and New Zealand, they’ve married in the meantime, they’ve come and stayed at my house many times. We’d meet them at the airport and they’ve brought their children. [I’ve corresponded with girls] also from England and people in Italy, and just all over. And it’s just wonderful. I wonder what the postman thinks when he sees this mail from all over the world.”
Undoubtedly, Backenstoe’s favorite thing is selling Girl Scout cookies because she loves to interact with people and most of all, she gets a chance to help countless girls learn invaluable skills.
“Some people will say, ‘oh, you don’t get that many cookies for that much money,’” she repeated. “And I’ll say, ‘that’s not what you’re buying. You’re buying Girl Scouting and we’re giving you a box of cookies for that money’ … It’s been a wonderful organization … because it teaches girls how to live and what is the right way to be of service to help other people and that’s very important.”
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