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92-year-old Girl Scout organizes tour of White House for Maryland troops

 

Anna Foultz dressed in green with a glittering white cowboy hat Saturday for an official tour of the White House, showing off badges and pins collected during more than six decades of volunteering with the Girl Scouts.

She took along a new generation of Girl Scouts from five troops near Ocean City, who had boarded a bus early in the morning.

Foultz, 92, proudly calls herself the “oldest active Girl Scout” in the country. She knows there are centenarians still involved with Scouting. But she does not shy away from a challenge. “You show me one who is more active,” she said.

For many, involvement with the Girl Scouts ends when they — or their daughters — sell their last cookie or stop going to summer camp. Many others stay active throughout their lives.
Nationwide, the Girl Scouts of America has more than 130,000 “lifetime members,” according to the national organization. The designation is available to anyone 18 or older who is committed to the mission of the organization and pays a fee. But many older volunteers do much more — they lead service projects, serve as delegates at the national Girl Scouts conventions and become mentors to younger scouts. “I love being with children and teaching them,” said Foultz, who organized Saturday’s excursion. “I want them to learn about our history.”

The mother of four became involved in the Girl Scouts in 1955. She and her mother-in-law started a troop at an elementary school in Philadelphia so that Foultz’s oldest daughter could be involved, she recalled in a memoir she recently published.

Foultz dove into her new role, devouring training manuals and planning excursions to historic sites, gardens, a television station, the zoo.

“We had projects to work on, and I began to feel empowered,” she wrote.

Her family moved multiple times, as her husband, an engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration, took on different projects.

Every time she started over in a new place, she called the local Girl Scout council and got involved. She said she found guidance in the old Girl Scout song: “Make new friends, but keep the old.”

In Northern Virginia, where her family lived in the 1970s, she recalled organizing major events at the Springfield Mall to showcase the talents and activities of local Girl Scouts and to boost cookie sales. And she got involved in a campaign opposing a plan to close the Rockwood National Girl Scout Camp in Potomac, Md.

She and her husband retired in Ocean Pines, Md., 30 years ago. They became involved with volunteer work — organizing events and raising money for Alzheimer’s disease research, veterans groups and, of course, Girl Scouts.

While Girl Scout membership has been declining nationally, Foultz is a vocal promoter in her community, writing a weekly column for her local newspaper that often focuses on work that she and the Girl Scouts do.

“We are lucky to have her,” said Denise Eberspeaker, chief development officer of Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay.

Eberspeaker said that more than 700 lifetime members in her area plan events, serve on advisory boards, make donations and continue advocating for scouting. One volunteer, at 90, helped lead a real estate search when the headquarters needed to move, a task that involved visiting 60 properties, she said.

“They like to stay involved because they believe in the mission, and they like the sisterhood that Girl Scouts provides,” she said. “Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.”

Grace Brosch, 15, who took part in Saturday’s tour, said she was excited that Foultz organized the trip, because it was something she had really wanted to do. She has been a scout for eight years andplans to stay involved.

“I definitely want to follow in her footsteps,” she said.