Area Girl Scouts make friends while learning about interpersonal communication
By Micah Leigh Howard
International Relations senior
fans made during "Communication Connection" at Purdue
A reverent silence fell over the giggling crowd that filled MATH
175, a large lecture room at Purdue University. The doors in the
back squeaked open, and a small flag corps entered the hall. Carefully
but proudly, the young girls marched slowly down the aisles, carrying
the American flag and the Girl Scout flag to be displayed in the
front of the room.
Once the flags were in place, a soft-spoken little girl wearing a crisp green vest stood before her peers. She put her hand on her heart. Other tiny hands covered tiny hearts as over 150 voices raised to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America," the little girl said, and the others joined in.
This flag ceremony, a traditional beginning to many Girl Scout
gatherings, kicked off the second annual Girl Scout event at Purdue,
titled "Communication Connection," on Nov. 8.
Local area Girl Scouts learned conflict resolution skills and how
to sing in Chinese, among the many activities available to them.
Purdue's Communication Department and the Purdue chapter of Lambda
Pi Eta, a national communication honor society, sponsored the event,
where Brownie Girl Scouts (ages 6-8) could earn "Caring &
Sharing" and "Working it out" badges and Junior Girl Scouts (ages
8-11) could earn a "Healthy Relationship" badge.
Dr. Erina MacGeorge, an assistant professor in Communication and
the faculty adviser to Lambda Pi Eta, is also a local Girl Scout
troop leader. MacGeorge said she developed a communication event
at Purdue last year after learning that the Girl Scouts of Sycamore
Council wanted to offer more "council-wide activities."
"I thought that having honors Communication students lead
Girl Scout badge activities was a natural fit," said MacGeorge.
"I 'promoted' the idea of the event and several Lambda Pi Eta
members jumped in to help."
faces: Use of non-verbal communication?
According to MacGeorge, there were 150 Girl Scouts in attendance
for "Communication Connection," compared to last year's
event, "Be Great - Communicate," which had 60 participants.
Troops arrived on campus and - following registration and the opening
ceremonies - were assigned to one of eight rooms designated for
25- to 30-minute workshops. With themes from listening to role-playing,
each room offered a unique opportunity for practicing communication
Beverly Davenport Sypher, a department professor at Purdue, held a public
speaking activity during last year's event and was also a room leader
in 2003. Sypher said that this year's topic was interpersonal communication,
so she structured her activities to teach the girls how to "think
about the other person" when communicating.
"We focus on some real basic things - using people's names,
listening, and trying to imagine how the other person thinks and
feels so we can construct a message that's appropriate for that
other person," said Sypher.
Hilary Heintz, a senior in communication and the president of Lambda Pi Eta at Purdue, was in charge of the scrapbook room and said that, as an art and design minor, she enjoyed watching the girls' creativity come out in their artwork.
"It was really fun seeing the girls and how creative they
get," said Heintz. "It was neat to see all the different
shapes they were using, the different ways they were applying the
string and the designs on it. It's neat to have them be creative."
Aside from the specific skills taught in each room, event organizers
also said that coming to Purdue gives the girls a chance to meet
other Girls Scouts and make new friends. Heintz, a former Girl Scout,
said that she wishes something like "Communication Connection"
had been available to her.
"I don't remember meeting other Girl Scouts from other troops
very often," she said. "It's a great opportunity for them
to meet people they wouldn't have otherwise met."
To encourage the girls to make new friends, "Communication
Connection" coordinators created a "secret pal" system
that paired each girl with one from another troop. At the end of
the day, the Girl Scouts were asked to find their new pal and exchange
When the day's activities came to a close, the giggles returned as participants assembled back into the lecture hall. With their friendship bracelets in hand, the girls excitedly scanned the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of their secret pals. Slowly but surely, each group was called to finally meet the new friends for whom they had carefully crafted the colorful threads.
Smiles tickled the corners of their mouths as they shyly exchanged
the knotted treasures. But the young girls who attended the "Communication
Connection" took away from the day much more than some pieces
of string. According to MacGeorge, they left with fond memories
and feelings of accomplishment, important parts of the Girl Scout
"They had a great time," said MacGeorge. "And they
were proud to have earned their badges."