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Girl Scouts take on the Olympics

Area Girl Scouts are celebrating the Summer Olympics their way this summer.

The Girl Scouts Olympic Summer Series kicked off Monday night with the opening ceremonies at Bemidji State University's Gillett Recreation-Fitness Center.

The Opening Ceremonies included introducing any new girls to Girl Scouts, splitting into two "countries" and creating national costumes, songs and flags, a parade of nations and a silly Olympics including an obstacle course and javelin throw using swimming noodles.

Clara Anderson, 9, said her favorite part was getting to dress her best friend up in a weird costume for the parade. She said the obstacle course was a learning moment for her.

"Even if you want to win, you can still take your time and do it right," Anderson said.

Michaela Garbow, 9, Savannah Holleman, 9, and Allison DeClusin, 11, all agreed the costumes were their favorite part of the night, too. DeClusin said the obstacle course also taught her a lesson.

"When you compete, not everyone can always win," DeClusin said. "Don't be upset if you lose."

While the night focused on the Olympics, Garbow said she learned about Girl Scouts, too.

"I realized Girl Scouts is more fun than I thought it would be," Garbow said.

Trisha Andrews, program specialist for Bemidji Girl Scouts, said she hopes the participants can see how each activity incorporates Girl Scouts.

"Each activity emphasizes the three types of learning - cooperative learning, learning by doing and girl-led learning," Andrews said. "We hope they have fun but are also getting to know each other and learning teamwork and leadership, too."

Becky Dean, membership specialist for Bemidji Girl Scouts, said the summer series was a different type of Girl Scouts experience.

"It's something the girls can be enthusiastic about," Dean said. "It's different from the troop setting they're used to. It gives them the chance to do things, like roller derby or rugby, they don't normally get to do."

The Olympic Summer Series was started as a way for more girls to be able to participate in Girl Scouts without necessarily having to be a member of a troop, Andrews said.

"The national council has created these pathways, and you can choose which one you follow," Andrews said. "You can be a member of a troop or you can travel or go to camp or participate in these types of series."

Andrews said a few girls had also joined Girl Scouts when they signed up for the summer series, so it was also being used as a member recruitment tool.

Tonight will be the second night of the six-session series. Sailing, kayaking and swimming are on the agenda.