Girl scouts add voice to Rockland Heart & Soul concerns

By George S. Chappell | Aug 16, 2018
Jesse Ellis

Remember the old saying that children should be seen and not heard? That was something my generation grew up with. Children were not supposed to have an opinion on anything, and if they did, they were considered to have been out of order.

Well, no more. This year we have seen children march against gun violence, all over the country, not just in Maine, and now the Girl Scouts have taken to speaking their minds and making decisions about everything from planning their activities to making their budgets.

Jesse Ellis, leader of Troop 191 in Rockland, which includes the 24 members from Rockland, Rockport, Thomaston, South Thomaston and Owls Head, said in a recent interview that the girls in her troop are making sure their voices matter.

The girls range in school age from first-graders to sixth-graders. The brownies are from the first, second and third grades, juniors from fourth and fifth, and cadets from the sixth grade, Ellis explained.

Troop 191 has become involved in Heart & Soul as a way to have the young people’s voice in the kind of community Rockland will become.

Rockland Heart & Soul is a community engagement and development process to learn what matters most to those who live, work, and visit here. Its purpose is to bring together diverse members and voices of the community to identify common values and themes about what matters most to the people of Rockland and the surrounding community, according to the Heart & Soul newsletter.

Ellis, 28, a former scout from St. George, was introduced this spring to Callie Black, one of the coordinators of the local Heart & Soul.

“Callie came to the Girl Scouts to interview them about what they want for Rockland, what they value, and what changes they would like to see,” Ellis said.

“One thing I noticed at Callie’s meeting, each girl was listened to and had a voice,” Ellis said.

After Black’s initial visit, the scouts worked on merit badges in community involvement, Ellis said.

“Young people are used to instant gratification,” Ellis said. “They learned that things they’d like to see wouldn’t happen right away, because they take planning.

“But they wanted to make sure their voices mattered,” she added.

In 2012, Girl Scouts as a national organization celebrated its 100th anniversary. “Girl Scouting is becoming more popular,” she said. “We’ve added outdoor skills and daily living skills, not just crafts skills.”

The Troop 191 girls said they wanted to see a community swimming pool surrounded by flowers that smelled nice, Ellis said. They also opted for a frozen slush machine to make slushies during the hot weather.

“They also wanted fairies and unicorns, even though they know they are mythological,” she added.

The connection between scouting and schoolwork is becoming more important, Ellis said.

“Girl Scouts of the USA, the preeminent leadership development organization for girls, is about building courage, confidence, and character,” she said.

“Half my girls want to have science or medical careers,” she said, dispelling the fallacy that girls are not interested in sciences or math.’

Girl Scouts of the USA is interested in having STEM education, particularly in math and the sciences. Inclusion of the STEM curriculum is a way to teach the children about the relationship of different disciplines, so that they can see how the various subjects are connected with one another, in life as well as in the classroom, she pointed out.

One hallmark of Girl Scouting is the annual cookie sale, and Troop 191 does its share of promoting cookies. This year the Troop sold 2,769 boxes of cookies, Ellis said.

Other projects include a dinner for veterans in November, and a dinner for first responders at the fire station in May.

Local Scouts are also concerned about posting motorcycle safety signs on dirt roads around the communities.

Ellis is the grand-niece of the late William and Margaret Ellis, environmentalists from Rangeley, who once raised funds for libraries in many third world villages, so helping others is in her blood.

Jesse fashioned her own educational program by getting a master’s degree in social work from Gallaudet College, a school for the deaf in Washington, D.C. Although she herself can hear, she wanted to do something with the deaf community, she said.

Sweetser in Rockland employs her as a school-based clinician, but her work with Girl Scouts is all-volunteering.

She also teaches sign language on Thursday nights at the Rockland Public Library.


George S. Chappell, a resident of Rockland, is a former reporter with 30 years of experience. Since his retirement he has received a Master for Fine Arts Degree from Goddard College in Vermont, and published three books of poetry. He teaches creative writing to adults at the public library in Waldoboro.



If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at
Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Aug 16, 2018 17:04

I love what Scouting has done to develop a child into a thinking community minded individual. Thanks to the scouts and their leaders! I know the communities love to support these civic minded Scouts. They make us proud!

If you wish to comment, please login.