Once a month, the 14-member Junior Girl Scout Troop 1909 of Hampstead goes to the Wee Care Best Day Care Center to read to the children there.
"They had to develop a reading program for the [Right to Read] badge and also had to do a community service project, so we're doing this to fulfill both," said Darlene Bromwell, one of the troop's co-leaders.
Mrs. Bromwell set up the project with the center's director, Sherry Coleman, and the troop began making its monthly visits in October.
"We meet at St. Mark's Church, so it's convenient for us. We just walk up to the day care center," Mrs. Bromwell said.
The troop decides on reading topics for the month and each girl is responsible for bringing books to read to the children, who are 2 to 5 years old. Unfortunately, two January visits and February's planned excursion yesterday were canceled because of inclement weather.
"We have had so many things canceled," Mrs. Bromwell said. "When the schools close, the girls don't have transportation because their parents work."
This month's topics were Valentine's Day, presidents and winter. The February visit will be rescheduled, Mrs. Bromwell said.
At the day care center, one of three classes, consisting of about 20 children, is turned over to the troop and each Girl Scout is assigned one or two youngsters to read to.
"The kids like one person reading to them. They get some individual attention that way," Mrs. Bromwell said. "Afterward, we usually try to sing a few songs or have a finger play, songs you can use your hands with, to get the day care kids involved."
Ms. Coleman said the Scouts' visits make the reading project special for the day care children, because it's not a daily event.
"They love it," Ms. Coleman said. "And the day care children relate better to the Girl Scouts because they're children, too. It works out nice and gives the Girl Scouts exposure to different activities."
Although the Scouts have made only three visits to the day care center, the children there are disappointed when the Scouts' reading program gets canceled, Mrs. Bromwell said.
"The Girl Scouts enjoy it too. They get a sense of doing something for somebody else littler than them," Mrs. Bromwell said. "The girls are too young to baby-sit, and the little ones pay attention and are real attentive to the Scouts."
Junior Girl Scout Peggy Szewczuk, 9, said she likes being around little children, and going to the day care center gives her the opportunity to do that. She enjoys reading stories and having the younger children ask questions about the books.
"Sometimes if you ask them questions, they know a lot of the answers," Peggy said. "Even the ones that aren't well behaved seem to like hearing stories."
Fellow Scout Katie Winemiller, also 9, said most of the girls in the troop like being around the younger children. Katie has a 4-year-old sister, so she knows a little bit about the age group. "It's fun to see how they react," Katie said. "They like it, and some of them talk to you and tell you their name."
The Junior Scouts are 9- and 10 year-old fourth-grade students. The girls have a choice of badges to work on, and the badges are picked with a purpose in mind. "We try to make the girls aware that they need to put something back into the community," Mrs. Bromwell said.
Other girls in the troop are Allison Baker, Kim Waynick, Kelsey Watts, Jayme Tunney, Lauren Therit, Caitlin O'Meara, Kathryn Naylor, Kristy Myers, Kate Miller, Kristen Massei, Dana James and Bethany Bromwell.