Four area girls form friendship of gold bonded by scouting

Four Girl Scouts in Troop 20083 have been in scouting together since Daisies, continuing through to the uppermost Ambassadors level. They are (from left) Grace Moser, Shania Brown, Lily Sabinske and Olivia Bowman. Their career as scouts will end in September, but they say they will continue as friends.
Four Girl Scouts in Troop 20083 have been in scouting together since Daisies, continuing through to the uppermost Ambassadors level. They are (from left) Grace Moser, Shania Brown, Lily Sabinske and Olivia Bowman. Their career as scouts will end in September, but they say they will continue as friends. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin

Originally published June 29, 2017.

The Girl Scouts have a song that goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other is gold.”

In 2004, four little girls in Markle decided to join Daisies, the youngest level of Girl Scouts, when they were in kindergarten.

Thirteen years later, the girls — now high school graduates and headed to college — have forged a friendship of gold together bonded by scouting.

Olivia Bowman, 18, of Markle, graduated this year from Huntington North High School; Shania Brown, 17, of Bluffton, graduated from Norwell High School; Grace Moser, 18, of Ossian, also graduated from Norwell High School; and Lily Sabinske, 18, of Warren, graduated from Southern Wells High School.

Together, they formed the nucleus of Troop 20083, bridging over the years from each level — Daisies, Brownies, Cadettes, Seniors — and finally to the highest level, Ambassador scouts.

Along the way, the girls also became great friends, sharing a lifetime of experiences, as only they can describe them — sometimes all at the same time.

Sabinske says the girls got together at Salamonie School, when they first learned about Daisies.

“We met in kindergarten,” Sabinske says. “I met Olivia first, and then at recess she introduced me to the other two.”

Moser, who is Troop Leader Kim Bennett’s daughter, recalls the troop’s earliest beginnings.

“I remember putting Girl Scout letters in people’s lockers — ‘Let’s start a troop!’” she says. “During recess I went and put a letter in every girl’s locker. It was really fun.”

That first year, they all made “a lot of crafts,” fashioning flowers out of egg cartons and painting “Daisy shirts.” They also decorated buckets to put their happy thoughts in, learned their first Girl Scout camp songs, and performed skits, including the famous — or more like infamous — “Nature Girl.”

“It’s a little skit about a girl; she’s like, ‘Hi, I’m Nature Girl,’” Sabinske animatedly explains. “She loves everything. She sees a snake. The snake bites her. She falls over. Her mom comes out.”

“Doctor, Doctor!” all four girls exclaim in unison.
“She gets a doctor, and the doctor says, ‘It’s dead.’ ‘My daughter?’ the mom says. And the doctor is like, ‘No, the snake,’” Sabinske continues. “So the snake’s dead.”

The skit is being “filmed” by a director who has the scenario repeated over and over, each time directing the actors to act and say the same words in different voices, such as “valley girl” style.

“For whatever reason, we loved that,” Sabinske says, rolling her eyes.

Their fondest memories are drawn from each of the 13 years they’ve been scouts, packed into two albums full of photos. Some of their favorites include the “Girl Scout cookie” costumes they wore for skits, and holding up crafts they made. Horseback riding was a unanimous favorite experience; and more, including car repair, sewing, volunteering at Helping Paws, making piñatas, working at the Markle Fish Fry and going zip-lining, among others.

“We went to Indiana Beach a lot,” Bowman says, as the others nod their heads in agreement. “They had a Girl Scout Day we went to. Grace even has a patch.”

“I remember Halloween parties a lot,” chimes in Brown. “I remember one year Olivia brought in her karaoke machine, and that was a bad idea from the start, because everyone was just screaming into the microphone, and not even singing the words. They were just screaming into it!”

Another time the girls decided to go canoeing in Markle Pool.

“I remember watching Lily capsize,” Moser says.

“Not on purpose!” retorts Sabinske. “We were trying to turn the canoe … Me and my partner were like out on the cliff dive when we capsized. It was not planned — we were freaking out.”

Camping also had its number of unique experiences, and sometimes challenges, but more often just teenage antics.

“We went Girl Scout camping; that was way more fun, because our moms aren’t there,” Sabinske says. “With Girl Scout camp you still have counselors, but for the most part, when you get older, you’re kind of on your own, so there’s nobody really watching you 90 percent of the day.”

She did not elaborate on what they did that 90 percent of the day when no one was looking.

One time Bowman chewed through a glow stick and wound up with a glowing mouth. On more than one occasion, the girls had to hole up in a nearby church while tornado sirens were sounding off.

“One time at camp, because nobody watches you at night, we put our bras on the flagpole, and that was just so much fun,” Sabinske adds. “They made us all stand there and grab our bras and hold them up, and then put them on over our clothes. We walked around all day like that.”

But Brown says the reasons the four have stayed in Girl Scouts through the entire program are the friendships they hold dear.

“I stuck it out for the friends,” she says. “Mostly, really, I don’t get to see everyone very often, and it is nice to get together with everyone.”

“It is like, the chance that we got to see each other on a regular basis, because we all go to different schools, so it’s hard to make plans,” Bowman adds. “A lot of the memories have just been like becoming closer friends with everyone, getting to know people better and being around people that you like to hang out with.”

Moser says camping also helped her continued interest year after year.

“I loved camp. That is like my favorite thing,” she says.

Sabinske joked that her goals are what kept her in the troop.

“I started because of friends, but then I finished it because I knew if I got my Gold Award it would look great on a college application,” she says, as the other three laugh. She adds that it worked.

Bowman, Moser and Sabinske all earned Gold Awards — the highest award that a Girl Scout can earn — during their scouting career.

Moser says it’s comparable to the Boy Scout Eagle Award.

“It’s a leadership award,” she explains. “But one of the ladies at the (Girl Scout) Council says it’s better than the Eagle Award.”

The project for a Gold Award must be something that will make a difference and “‘last in perpetuity,’ so it needs to be something, not necessarily ‘big,’ but that is worthwhile and will last,” Moser adds.

Bowman’s project was making prayer quote books, using Bible verses to address various topics. She passed them out to people in the Dominican Republic while in that country on a missions trip.

Moser raised money for equipment that was installed at the Ossian Dog Park, including a canine agility course.

For Sabinske’s Gold Award project, she created a comic book for children about safety. The local food bank inserts the book in children’s snack food bags.

Bennett has been Troop 20083’s leader since it began back in 2004 when the Daisies were all in kindergarten. A former scout herself, Bennett has been in Girl Scouts for 21 years. With the end of the current troop, she has begun to lead a new Daisy troop at Ossian Elementary School with one of her younger daughters.

She says she’s thrilled that her first group of Daisies has blossomed into a “very neat group of young ladies” and has developed such a close bond.

“I am honored to have been a part of their years in scouting and hope that someday they look back with fondness of the time we spent together,” she says. “And, I hope that they become Girl Scout leaders themselves someday.”

The troop also received the support of parents over the years, including Tina Bowman, who served as the cookie mom for about 10 years, and Lisa Sabine, helping with troop activities. Another member of the troop, Madeline Queener, joined as a Cadette and has logged a total of 12 years in scouting.

Troop 20083 will officially end in September.

The four friends will split up, each going to a different college. Bowman will study dental hygiene at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Brown will be a theater major at University of Indianapolis; Moser will study equine business management with Western riding emphasis at the University of Findlay; and Sabinske will major in biology and minor in education at Ball State University.

What Bowman, Brown, Moser and Sabinske will take away from the whole experience in scouting will last them a lifetime, they say, and they hope more girls will be able to experience the friendships, good times and well-roundedness they received during their 13 years in Girl Scouts.

“It is what you make it,” Sabinske says. “You can either have fun or you can just do the badge work and go home. It’s really up to you and what you decide to do in your time there … It gives you a lifetime of skills and happiness, for me at least. And, of course, the memories.”

“I would definitely recommend it,” Bowman says. “You make a lot of friends and even if they don’t stay in Girl Scouts you’re still friends with them, because you spent so much time together doing crazy stuff.”

“I think a lot of it is that you learn how to work with other people, especially with kids who don’t know how to work together,” Brown adds. “Whenever we were little it was really hard to work together, but not if you see us now. As Ambassadors, we’ve worked together really well because we’ve learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to act on those.”

And the young women all agree about one thing: their friendship will continue on, good as gold.