End of an era: Girl Scout Troop No. 2080, leader Valerie Lyons prepare to say goodbye

MOVING ON: The six members of Girl Scout Troop 2080 have been together for 13 years, since they were Daisies. Today, they are Ambassadors and are preparing to retire their troop number in a special ceremony on April 26. (Courtesy photo)

MOVING ON: The six members of Girl Scout Troop 2080 have been together for 13 years, since they were Daisies. Today, they are Ambassadors and are preparing to retire their troop number in a special ceremony on April 26. (Courtesy photo)

STANWOOD — Springtime is generally thought of as a time of renewal and new beginnings. For Valerie “Val” Lyons and Girl Scout Troop No. 2080, this spring is a time of endings.

Six girls have been part of Lyons’ troop since they were Daisies — that’s 13 years of scouting, with the same girls and the same leader. In the beginning, there were more girls, but some left the troop over the years.

After all this time, the remaining girls feel a strong connection with each other and with Lyons. They have reached a point where they can all talk at once without talking over each other — it seems nearly scripted as they all chime in on cue.

“We’ve spent so much time together, we’re more of a family now,” said Madison Marek.

Rashel Rolston nodded, adding, “Girl Scouts will always be a part of me.”

“We’ve been through all stages of our lives together,” said Renae Lyons, Val’s daughter. “We’ve seen it all with each other and that’s why we’re so close.”

Kristen Cranney, also nodding, added, “If it wasn’t for Val, we wouldn’t be the same Girl Scouts we are today.”

The troop began because Renae “begged” to become a Daisy Girl Scout, Val said. Nobody disputes the origin of the troop, but there is a debate over its longevity.

Val credits the girls for keeping the troop going for more than a decade, while the girls credit Val.

“There were times in my personal life that were hard, like when I had surgery. I didn’t think I couldn’t continue scouting, I just thought, ‘I have to get back on my feet because I have my Girl Scout Troop,’” Val said.

Likewise, the girls didn’t want to let their leader down by walking away or giving less than their best.

“We’ve known Val so long — we didn’t want to disappoint her,” said Drew Myers. “We wanted to be better for her. She’s like our mom.”

Through every stage, the girls and Val and worked together — as Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors and now Ambassadors — and they have one more step to take as a troop.

They’re going to retire their troop number in a special ceremony on April 26.

The thought brings a mix of emotions, both tears and smiles at the same time. The girls and Val all look around the table, not wanting to be the first to cry but not entirely able to hold back, either.

LOOKING BACK: As they plan the April 26 ceremony to retire their troop number, members of Girl Scout Troop No. 2080 look through photo albums compiled throughout the past 13 years by troop leader Val Lyons. Pictured are (from left) Renae Lyons, Val Lyons, Madison Marek, Angel Traynor, Drew Myers, Rashel Rolston and Kristen Cranney. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

LOOKING BACK: As they plan the April 26 ceremony to retire their troop number, members of Girl Scout Troop No. 2080 look through photo albums compiled throughout the past 13 years by troop leader Val Lyons. Pictured are (from left) Renae Lyons, Val Lyons, Madison Marek, Angel Traynor, Drew Myers, Rashel Rolston and Kristen Cranney. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

“Our troop is retiring, but we’re still here for each other,” Rolston said.

“We’re still sisters,” emphasized Renae.

“It’s going to be really sad for us but it’s a chance to remember all we’ve done for the community,” said Cranney about the retirement ceremony. “Nobody can know what it was to be part of this troop except us, because we were in it. All through the hard work, we still laughed.”

“Even though it’s over, we can look back and see how much we did for people. There are no regrets,” Myers said.

As the girls sit around Val’s dining room table looking back at pictures of the troop, they remember things only they would know. There’s a lot of discussion about “that one summer” when it was so hot, and a wave of laughter sweeps through the room. No more explanation is necessary — they were all there, and for a moment, they all were again.

 Pictured are (from left) Angel Traynor, Madison Marek, Renae Lyons, Rashel Rolston, Kristen Cranney and Drew Myers. (At left) The girls provided many hours of community service through the years to the Stanwood area. This picture shows them planting flowers several years ago as younger Scouts. (Courtesy photos)

Pictured are (from left) Angel Traynor, Madison Marek, Renae Lyons, Rashel Rolston, Kristen Cranney and Drew Myers. (At left) The girls provided many hours of community service through the years to the Stanwood area. This picture shows them planting flowers several years ago as younger Scouts. (Courtesy photos)

The troop has completed thousands of hours of community service throughout the last 13 years. They’ve done trash pick-ups, stained picnic tables and woodwork at Buffalo Park in Stanwood, organized recycling and food drives, created care packages for the American Red Cross to give to fire victims, worked with the elderly at Metron and more.

“The feeling that I know I gave back to the community is a feeling I can be proud of, but the best part was I could do it with this troop,” said Angel Traynor.

Through it all, Val’s goal was to instill in the girls a sense of personal responsibility and ownership in decision-making.

“I hope all the girls realized no matter where they’re at, that they can always find an opportunity to be helpful,” Val said.

As a troop, they earned both the Bronze Award and the Silver Award, which are two high awards given by Girl Scouts of the USA. They’ve attended camps, council-organized events and mentored younger Girl Scouts.

They’re proud of their community service, but as they reflect on their time, they know they’ve gained more than a list of service hours for college applications. Each of them has a measure of personal growth they attribute to the troop.

“I will walk away with the ability to face challenges and be challenged and I know I will be OK,” Marek said. “For these 13 years we’ve all grown so much closer and they’ve shown me I can get through anything.”

Several girls also mentioned increased confidence in themselves and their abilities as a result of being part of Troop 2080. They weren’t the only ones who benefitted from the past 13 years, however.

“On a personal note, being leader of this troop gave me confidence. If I’m asked to do something I’ve never done before, I have the confidence to do it,” Val said. “Even though they think they were growing, I was growing, too.”

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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