Heritage Patrol History

The Development of Heritage Patrol

Heritage Patrol, an interest group for Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts, is sponsored by Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania. Its purpose is to explore our local heritage, provide opportunities for members to share our heritage with others, and to provide service to organizations trying to preserve our local heritage.

Heritage Patrol developed from two Girl Scout events. The first, Moravian Memories, took palce in 1985. It was a Service Unit event at which Girl Scouts, ages five to eighteen, joined together to learn what it was like to live in the life of an eighteenth-century Moravian girl. The second, the Fox Fire House Junior Wider Opportunity (A wider op is an experience beyond our council) first offered in the fall of 1986, was a program for sixth grade girls. On this wider op they experienced living in 1800 for a weekend. they stayed in a stone house built in 1800, that has been faithfully restored by Girl Scouts to its original condition. All the girls wished they had been there to help when the archaeology dig and restoration was in process.

Moravian Memories proved that girls of all ages enjoy exploring history. Also, the older girls who lead the crafts and games enjoy doing it. The following summer Historic Bethlehem, Inc., one of the groups that helped with Moravian Memories, asked if a group of Girls Scouts could lead the eighteeth-century crafts on their site during Musikfest '86. Thus, Heritage Patrol began. It wouldn't be named for over a year and Musikfest was the only activity that year, but 32 girls learned the leadership and teaching skills necessary to teach crafts to children, and got a chance to practice their new skills.

The following summer, we gathered again at Historic Bethelehem Inc., to teach eighteeth-century crafts at Musikfest '87. Thirty Girls helped: 15 returned from the year before and 15 new girls joined and were trained. among these new girls were several participants of the Fox Fire Wider Op. They wanted more historical activities than their Girl Scout troops could offer. the answer seemed to be a group that offered historical activities at regular intervals to complement their troop program.

In the fall of 1987, Heritage Patrol became the first interest group in the Great Valley Girl Scout Council. Among its activities were archaeology and historical restoration projects. Opportunities to learn eighteenth-century crafts and life styles and teach them to others continued to be offered.

Setting up your Patrol

If your starting a new group you need to create a statement of purpose. Identify your goal. Whom will you serve? What are the needs of the person or place? What are the needs of the group?

For example Heritage Patrol was developed because Historic Bethelehem, Inc. needed help with a project at the same time a group of Girl Scouts needed a way to expand their practical experiences with historical activities. Therefore, our goal is to serve girls and local museums.

When I ask girls why they joined Heritage Patrol they usually tell me it was because they like history - our stated purpose brings them into the group. When I ask them why they stay they tell me it's because there is always something new to learn and do. If you wish to have the loyal service of a group of young people, it is important to recognize that you must offer them a place to grow.

The goal of Heritage Patrol to provide more historical experiences for girls is addressed by exploring our local heritage and sharing it with others. The second goal, to serve local museums, requires us to look for service opportunities in the community.

Next you need to decide how to reach your goal. What activities will give the desired effect?

Once you have a statement of purpose, you need to make a list of a activities necessary to fulfill it. My original list for heritage patrol went something like this:

  1. Recruit adult help.
  2. Recruit girls.
  3. Teach girls crafts.
  4. Teach girls to teach.

Next, plan activities around your list. I did the following:

  1. Talked with Historic Bethelehem, Inc. about having girls teach crafts at Musikfest.
  2. Presented idea for the group and its purpose to Great Valley. Got permission and funding to send recruitment letters to parents and girls.
  3. Planned workshops to train girls. Recruited professionals to teach crafts and a teacher to explain simple teaching techniques.

I'm always adding to my list. Each time I add or subtract an activity I check to see how it will effect our purpose. I've found out that if it doesn't help to fulfill the purpose, I'd better reconsider my action. I've never had to change Heritage Patrol's stated purpose, but if the needs of the group should change, I will. For that reason, it is important to review your purpose at regular intervals.

Have We Fulfilled Our Stated Purpose?

"Heritage Patrol members will explore their local heritage." Each year, the girls dedicate two days to "Hunting for History". They explore little known historical sites and expand their understanding and appreciation of our local heritage.

"Heritage Patrol members will share their knowledge with others." They run four days of workshops for Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts at local sites: Burnside Plantation Day, Victorian Pastimes, Thinking Day - Heritage Style, and Moravian Memories. Featured activities are unique to each site. For example, at Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, during Victorian Pastimes they tour the Victorian rooms and teach nineteenth-century crafts such as tile painting and potpourri bags. In one year's time, Heritage Patrol delivers programming to approximatelty 800 Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts. They also continue to teach "18th Century Krafts for Kids" at Historic Bethlehem, Inc., to about 100 children during Musikfest, and occasionally are asked to help at other events.

"Heritage Patrol members will provide service to organizations trying to preserve our local heritage." In addition to providing service through workshops, members have helped at archaeology digs, acted as tour guides and lantern bearers, and taken active roles in many museum activities both as Heritage Patrol members and on a personal level.

Yes, we have served our stated purpose. In the process we have also developed a way for girls to discover and develop their own leadership skills. The natural leader learns to control and use her skills. Others identify their particular skills and develop them. Not every girl becomes a wonderful leader, but each of them learns to use the skills she has and to realize that her role in leadership of the group is important.

Heritage Patrol is successful. The girls return year after year because there is always something new to do. They are respected, trusted and given ever-increasing responsibility.

For additional information or copies of lesson plans please contact:

Sandra Villard patrol@gvheritagepatrol.com

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This page was last updated on 10/8/07 - erc