“I didn’t make it past Daisies,” laughs Katie Montgomery, who as a headstrong grade-schooler preferred scoring points on a soccer field to earning patches for her uniform.
Now, as the older girl program specialist for the Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina, this amiable 30-year-old tackles the same challenge her mother faced: keeping young ladies engaged in Girl Scouts. Only the teens who Katie guides have long since outgrown the blue Daisy tunic. Once members reach high school, their focus often shifts to higher service awards and scholarships. “These girls take action in their communities to affect people in a lasting way,” explains Katie, who offers step-by-step support and advice to participants from 21 counties. Their rigorous projects address needs for medical supplies, home repairs, neighborhood safety, recycling, and more. One 13-year-old earned a Silver Award for creating an informational DVD on breast cancer awareness and providing copies to every Girl Scout council in the country. Another teen worked for a year training an assistance dog for the disabled. “The pride in the girls’ eyes when they accomplish these things is amazing,” says Katie, who also directs ladies on becoming program aides and camp counselors-in-training as well as those raising funds for cultural and adventure journeys. But Girl Scouting is about more than top awards and big trips—it’s living by the promise to serve, respect, and learn, every day. So one of Katie’s most important roles is to really listen to what these teens want to gain from the program. And for that, she has definitely earned a patch to be proud of.