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Paynesville Press - July 19, 2006

Summer break finds
Girl Scouts in New York City

By Addi Larson

Three Paynesville Girl Scout troops traveled to New York City in June for a five-day visit.

Girl Scouts The group of 200 - which included 112 Minnesota Girl Scouts, 78 chaperones, two tour guides, and eight bus drivers - departed for the Big Apple from St. Cloud on Monday, June 5, and returned on Saturday, June 10. Paynesville's travelers included ten high school and six middle school students.

A walk through Central Park led the troop members to Bethesda Fountain. The five-day trip included 200 travelers from Minnesota, with 16 GirlScouts from Paynesville.

Upon their arrival in what has been coined the city that never sleeps, anticipation was welcomed beneath the bright, towering eaves of the group's first stop, Times Square. Crystal Roberts, who will be entering the eighth grade at PAMS this fall, recalled those initial moments in Manhattan, saying that the "somewhat chaotic" environment of Times Square was quite a change from life in rural Minnesota.

In just three days, the group toured Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the United Nations headquarters, Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Battery Park, South Street Seaport, Chinatown, Little Italy, Ground Zero, Rockefeller Center, and Fifth Avenue. They waved to friends and family back home outside the CBS Early Show and saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

On their last day in the city, the troops and chaperones traipsed through Central Park before a stop at FAO Schwarz toy store in midtown. Next, a walk to Radio City Music Hall was a highlight for local scout McKenzie Quade. The soon-to-be ninth grader said she and her troop members met a Rockette that day and fashioned from the entire urban journey, a sense of wonder. "It was a really different experience, rushed and busy. You don't see that in Minnesota," she said.

Lauren Vaske, a 2006 PAHS graduate, said the trip was "a lot of fun" and favored visits to famous retail spaces on Fifth Avenue. "It's just so cool to window shop," she said.

Roberts said her favorite stop was the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view celebrated paintings and Egyptian art, among other works.

"I think one of the greatest things about Girl Scouts," Roberts said, "is meeting new people." She added that she had a great time with her friends who were on the trip and felt emotional when returning home.

Three Paynesville Girl Scout troops viewed the sights of New York City during their trip in June, which included a visit to the Statue of Liberty.

Roberts has enjoyed being a Girl Scout and said this adventure was an opportunity for her "to see different parts of the world and just to learn about history." Roberts, Quade, and Vaske all said the journey was a positive one and that they would like to return someday.

The trip, requiring $485 per traveler, was organized locally by Jane Leitzman and Shelby Vaske, mothers of current Girl Scouts, who thought it would be a good experience for the girls to tour somewhere outside of Minnesota. "Jane and I had the idea that we should do a big trip. We thought New York would be fun," Shelby Vaske said.

According to Vaske, the Girl Scout council office - with headquarters in St. Cloud - had never arranged a trip like this before, so health and permission forms needed to be created. When they were first granted permission to travel out of state by representatives at the council office, Leitzman and Vaske had originally thought 100 people would be the most they could gather for the five-day excursion. Vaske said she was told, "You won't even get one bus." Registering enough travelers to fill four buses, they needed to turn people away.

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