Looking Back: One Girl’s 13-year Girl Scout Journey

From the Fall 2019 issue of Focus

Peyton Barber is a Girl Scout through and through. She joined as a kindergarten Daisy…13 years ago! Over the years she’s gained best friends in her troop, been on outdoor adventures, traveled across the country, shared her Girl Scout story on TV and radio, provided valuable input on Badgerland’s Youth Leadership Council, earned her Bronze and Silver Award (and working on her Gold Award), managed her own Cookie business, and now, she’s a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts.

Peyton says, “Girl Scouts has definitely helped shape the person I am today. Without Girl Scouts I feel I would have definitely missed out on all of the awesome opportunities I have been provided. I also feel I would not have grown up to be the passionate leader I am today if it weren’t for Girl Scouts and all the amazing leaders I’ve had throughout the years.”

After all these years, here’s her advice to current Girl Scouts:

“Take advantage of suggesting ideas of things you want to learn to your leaders. Want to learn how to fence – ask! Want to learn how to decorate a cake? Ask! Want to go camping in someone’s backyard – ask! The worst think your leader can say is no. The best thing is they might just say yes!”

Peyton Grad

Q. Where are you headed next?
I am going to attend Stetson University in Deland, Florida (it is halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach). I was recruited for their D1 Rowing team (yeah! Full year rowing no winter!). I will be studying communications and pre-law.

Q. What does your future with Girl Scouts look like?
I plan to volunteer with the local council after I am settled in Florida. When I have a daughter, she will for certain go into Girl Scouts and I will be her leader. I am third generation Girl Scout – we can’t stop now.

Troop Life

My troop really did a lot of fun things, as our leaders had the logic to provide us opportunities we may not otherwise have. My troop learned how to row with the Camp Randall Rowing Club (and I joined the team!), we slept overnight on a baseball field, we learned to fence, we learned to scuba dive, we recorded songs at a recording studio, we learned how to make sushi, how to do DIY screen-printing, we met K9 dogs and so much more. We also took the opportunity to volunteer as group. My troop’s Bronze Award project provided the Dane County Humane Society the most items donated by a youth group! But my favorites were the trips we took as a troop to Chicago, the Mall of America, and New York City for a week.

Peyton Today Show

Q. What do your troop mates mean to you?
Ohana. They are family. My troop just graduated from high school and we are already planning a post freshman year of college trip together.

Peyton Cookies Starbucks

Being an Older Girl Scout

The Youth Leadership Council (YLC)
Being on the YLC with girls I didn’t know gave me a chance to work on my social skills, raising my point of view, and (obviously) leadership. I’m going to miss the friends I’ve made.

My Role Models
My mom has been one of my leaders for all 13 years of Girl Scouts. She and our other co-leaders Lauren Cunningham Laura Jirsa have been amazing. And a thanks to all of the troop parents who volunteered. I would also love to thank my mom and dad for putting me in Girl Scouts my kindergarten year.

Peyton Mom

My Gold Award
I have been working on my Gold Award since my freshman year. I am on my third project. My first project was to get feminine hygiene products into schools for free (and this was co-opted by another organization), my second project was an outdoor education area (my main contact in the school district had MUCH bigger fish to fry) and I am finalizing my third go at this. An Adulting 101 class that will be beta tested in my alma mater this fall and hopefully spread to the other Madison high schools the following year. I have learned a lot of tenacity with trying to get this done!

Peyton Group Strong

Q. Do you consider yourself a Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, or Leader?
I am a Leader and Risk-Taker. I’m not afraid to step up and suggest things, or take charge if no one else steps up.

Albany Girl Scout shows resilience, drive as member of USA ParaVolley Team

From the Fall 2019 issue of Focus

Growing up, Skye McDermott heard the word “can’t” more than most girls her age. But instead of letting her disability bring her down, this Girl Scout is showing the world what she can do.

Skye was born without her left arm below the elbow. She’s overcome more than her fair share of challenges in her 14 years, but for her, volleyball is worth the work.

Three years ago, Skye’s older sister (who shares her passion for volleyball) organized a camp to prepare middle school girls for the volleyball season as part of her Gold Award. Skye signed up for her sister’s camp, but was taken back when she was told she couldn’t play the position of setter – only hitter – due to her limb deficiency.

Not long after, Skye was taking private lessons and perfecting her own way of legally setting the ball. She joined year-round, able-bodied teams at school, the Madison Elite Volleyball Club and with summer beach leagues…gearing up for what she wanted most. Then it was time.

Earlier this year she traveled to Edmond, Oklahoma to try out for the USA’s Women’s Paralympics Beach volleyball team – the first women’s team of this type. Skye was ecstatic when she heard she made the team, and was eager to take on the challenge and break barriers.

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She and her two teammates spent the next few weeks traveling to different parts of the country for practice, and in May, she set off for the World ParaVolley Beach World Series Tour in Pingtan, China. Today, her silver medal hangs in her bedroom next to her Girl Scout vest.

“Being a Girl Scout helped me be able to make new friends and be able to express myself with different people from different countries,” Skye said. “I’m able to respect the different things about them because of some of the badges we’ve done as a troop.”

Skye has been a Girl Scout since age 5, when she joined as a Daisy. Her mother, Renee McDermott, is one of her Troop Leaders, and agrees that Girl Scouts helps gives her busy daughter a sense of routine and stability.

“Although she needs to focus to be a national champion, she also needs to have something else to do – a place where she can go outside and be with friends and just be a kid,” Renee said.

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Troop 3253 just bridged to Senior, and the members are already talking about their Gold Award projects. As Juniors, they earned their Bronze Award for designing and building two Gaga Ball Pits in their area. For her Silver Award project, Skye assembled more than 400 “Blessing Bags” for people in need, filled with hygiene items, socks, snacks, hand warmers and notes of kindness.

Along with service projects, the troop has traveled to Savannah, GA, made troop camp memories, sold thousands of boxes of cookies, and earned more badges and patches than what fits on their vests.

This fall, Skye is starting high school with skills and experiences that go beyond the typical freshman.

“Don’t give up because someone said you can’t do something. Use those words as motivation to push you even harder. You miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take. I truly believe that is true on and off the volleyball court.”