In 1951, Duncan Girl Scouts was a leader —with the most registrations for membership in the state of Oklahoma.

That’s one of the little facts uncovered in some old scrapbooks that Toni Reed, a service unit manager for Duncan, found when cleaning up the Girl Scout hut this summer.

“That was the goal — to be number one in the state this year,” she said.

And, over the years, the organization’s popularity has had its ups and downs.

This year, in Duncan, it appears to be up, at least among the girls. Even last year, the numbers were up by 20 percent over the prior year, Reed said. She attributes part of that increase to United Way of Stephens County. The Duncan Girl Scouts is one of the non-profit organizations that benefits from additional funding provided through United Way.

Reed has been a troop leader for three years. Her troop alone has grown to about 16 members, up from between nine and 12 last year.

“Most of my troops have got between 12 and 17 (girls).”

That’d be a great thing if it weren’t for a lack of leaders, Reed said. While Girl Scouts’ popularity appears to be on the upswing this year, the number of leaders available is just the opposite.

“We have bigger troops because we are having trouble finding leaders,” she said.

Overall, the early registration numbers have Duncan’s sign-up total over last year’s figure of 121. A skate-night registration party was held for all returning members and new members. On that night, 75 girls registered and five new members joined. But, Reed said, all the troops have doubled in size.

Reed spends about 50 hours working for the Girl Scouts — and it’s all volunteer time.

It’s people like Reed and co-service unit manager, Kathy Keele, who are vital to the organization’s existence. Guys even get involved. The Duncan Girl Scouts’ public relations person is Clay Pickard, and Reed’s husband, Brad, also joins in to help.

But, they couldn’t do it without funding. The United Way of Stephens County financially helps the group.

To Reed, it means more than just an outlet for her to volunteer.

She has five daughters, three who are members. The oldest daughter, Cori, 21, lives in California, and the youngest, Brianna, 4, isn’t quite old enough for Scouting.

But, Megan 13, is a Cadette, Sarah, 10, is in Junior Scouts, and Emily, 6, is a Brownie.

That’s how Reed got involved. And keeping track of who goes where on what night is an organizational project in itself. Registration is the single biggest task to deal with, she said.

What’s funny, Reed said, is when girls show up to register. They’re hesitant because they think it isn’t trendy, then see half their classmates there and discover it isn’t so bad to be a Girl Scout.

The funding provided by United Way also goes for the two camps offered to the girls each year, she said.

Those camps teach the girls about more than just camping. They learn social skills and more, Reed said.

Recently, Reed discovered she knew someone who was a Girl Scout many years ago.

“She’s the queen of manners,” she said.

Reed’s referring to Vicki Malone, who will be teaching classes to the girls this year on manners.

That connection got Reed to thinking about coordinating a Girl Scout reunion for Duncan and the area. Another reason was the recent Day of Caring, a United Way project.

“The greatest example of United Way’s vital support was the Day of Caring. It was just incredible to see them come and do so much.”

Volunteers from United Way came and helped clean up the Scout hut on the Day of Caring.

“The United Way has put our name out there. I think that’s why we’re growing. Just being able to participate in the activities they host and the more it’s out there, the more the girls want to be a part of,” she said.

But, no matter how much funding and how many girls are involved, it doesn’t happen without leaders.

It does take work, Reed noted. She oversees two troops, manages ledgers for 14 bank accounts, with direct responsibility for five of them, and she hosts a meeting once a month for all the leaders.

She said the training to be a leader is wonderful and she’s hoping to recruit some active parents. Right now, there are about 20 leaders, two per troop, she said. A few more would help relieve each of those troop leaders of a little bit of responsibility.

Reed said there’s a need for leaders for Duncan, Empire, Velma, Comanche and Loco troops. Even for someone who might not consider themselves organized, the training helps them in that area.

“There’s a lot of sharing. Parents will help bring cookies and items, but we need the leaders. The training provided teaches you how to be a leader. It’s kind of like mom stuff for me.”

A Web site has also been created — http://www.DuncanGirlScouts.org. It contains contact information, a wish list and sponsor wish list.

For information, call Reed, 580-470-8667, or Keele, 580-255-9694.

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