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Girl Scouts tie into many faiths

The organization has consultants for different faiths. A Lecanto woman helps Catholic Daisies, Brownies and Junior Girl Scouts achieve religion medals.


St. Petersburg Times,
published August 25, 2001

LECANTO -- The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. has always encouraged a belief in God. The preamble from the organization's constitution states: "We, the members of Girl Scouts of the United States of America, (are) united by a belief in God. We believe that the motivating force in Girl Scouting is a spiritual one."

That works for Cheryl Clamer.

Clamer loved being a Girl Scout.

She has lived in the area since 1972 and graduated from Citrus High School. When she produced two daughters, it was pretty much a given that they would be Scouts as well.

Now Clamer, 41, is a Scout leader and a member of the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouting for her diocese. And as a consultant for the Catholic Church, she helps the Scouts achieve their religion medals.

In May, Clamer, a legal assistant for the county attorney's office, was awarded the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award by the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

The award, for which the recipient must be nominated, requires at least three years of active participation in Catholic Girl Scouting or other youth ministry.

Clamer has served for five years as a Girl Scout leader and three as a consultant for the Catholic awards.

Clamer said the award came as a complete surprise to her.

"I didn't have a clue," Clamer said. "They read the little blurb, and I was sitting there thinking to myself, boy, she's got three levels of girls. All of a sudden I thought, You know, that sounds an awful lot like me."

The "blurb" reads as follows:

"The recipient of the first St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award this year is a leader of Daisy, Brownie and Junior Girl Scout Troops. She serves her Girl Scout neighborhood in numerous capacities, such as Cookie Mom, coordinator of Summer Twilight Camp, as a member of the Service Unit and as registrar.

"She serves as a classroom mom at her child's school, kitchen help for special events and the school carnival.

"She started her involvement with Catholic Girl Scouting by becoming a coordinator for the Catholic Brownie Day of Recollection and a consultant for the Religious Award Program and alter trained other adults as consultants. She has served on the adult staff of the Catholic Girl Scout Retreat and is a member of the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Girl Scouting.

"The Catholic Committee on Girl Scouting is proud to present this St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal to Cheryl Clamer of St. Scholastica Parish, Lecanto."

Clamer wasn't the only one to receive an award, she said. More than 550 awards were handed out to Girl and Boy Scouts, 11 of them to girls Clamer has helped earn medals.

"They also earn awards from the Girl Scouts," Clamer said, "but these are separate and are totally with the church."

Clamer said there are consultants in the Girl Scouts for many different faiths. Each girl works with the consultant from the religion that corresponds to her own beliefs.

The various religious groups encourage girls to grow stronger in their faith.

All religious recognition programs have been created by the religious groups themselves, not by the Girl Scouts.

Medals may be earned for: AME, Baha'i, Baptist, Buddhist, Christian Church, Christian Science, Churches of Christ, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, Polish National Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Protestant and Independent Christian churches, Religious Society of Friends, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Roman Catholic Church, Unitarian Universalist, United Church of Christ, United Methodist and Unity Church.

The Girl Scouts with whom Clamer works earn both local and national awards.

"Our Catholic Committee in St. Petersburg is very active, and they have actually written these program books for the children," she said.

Clamer leads Troop 512, which meets Wednesday evenings at Pope John Paul II Catholic School. Girls in grades K-12 are being recruited throughout the county.

"Girl Scouting is great for girls," Clamer said. "It is not only with their religion, but it's a lot of fun. They do a lot of interesting things, meet a lot of interesting people, plus do community service.

"To see the looks on the faces of these girls who've never been camping or hiking and canoeing, and being able to do that with them and to show them the outdoors and what God has created out there is just wonderful."

To learn more

For more information on Girl Scouting in Citrus County, call 628-7581.

©Copyright 2001, St. Petersburg Times

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