Dust is just settling from a seven-day whirlwind tour of London and Paris, and 11 members of Kempton Girl Scout Troop 1359 reflect upon what they call the trip of a lifetime.
Ramsi Ross, a junior at Kutztown Area High School, said the trek to Eiffel Tower was on the top of her list of memories.
“Being on top of the Tower was kind of a big thing,” she recalled, as was “seeing the culture, the changing of the guards, the kings and queens. It was different to see things there versus what we go through here.”
“The girls experienced culture, history and different cuisines of both countries,” troop leader Kay Greenawalt summarized. “They learned how to negotiate on the tube, metro and busses. Not bad for country girls.”
Most of the week-long adventure was spent on British soil. The girls hit historical highlights like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Stonehenge. They toured castles and cathedrals and saw the Queen’s jewels as well as works of art by Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Monet.
Megan Dieter, another Kutztown junior, said seeing da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in person was a stand-out moment.
“It was shocking,” she said, because “it’s actually super small. You think of it as being huge, but it’s actually like the size of a printer paper.”
“The other interesting thing in London was the Tower Bridge,” Greenawalt said, adding, “They have a glass floor, and you can look down and see the river and the road below. At first you didn’t want to walk on it. It was a little creepy, but the girls ended up laying on the floor taking pictures.”
Cultural icons were also on the list. The girls attended a showing of “Wicked” at the Apollo Theatre and stumbled across a live movie set with American actor John Goodman.
The group also spent a few days in Paris. Even getting to the French capital was an adventure as they took the Chunnel, a 31.5-mile train corridor that stretches under the English Channel to connect the two countries.
“We were 200 feet under water at a speed of up to 230 miles an hour,” Greenawalt remembered. “It travels really, really fast. In about two and a half hours, we went from London to Paris.”
While in Paris, the troop enjoyed cuisine ranging from Nutella on crepes to hot chocolate at corner bistros. They also visited the Arc de Triomphe and, a highlight for all the group, the Eiffel Tower.
“You could see the city,” Greenawalt said. “You couldn’t understand the bigness of the city until you were in the Eiffel Tower.”
Also on the trip were Mckenzie Greenawalt, Katelyn Greenawalt, Sarah Bubbenmoyer, Erin Randall, Mckenzie Barlet, Ellissa Kunkel, Isabella Pizzelanti, Morgan Claypoole, Lea Schroeder and Amber Hernandez. Beverly Schroeder is the troop’s co-leader.
The young women spent two years raising funds for the July 2017 trip, selling cookies along with sandwiches and magazines and holding car washes to raise $2,500 per girl.
“There was a lot of people in the community that helped us to get there,” Greenawalt stressed. “We want to thank everybody that helped us to obtain our goals.”
As they raised funds, the girls also made plans for the trip, strategizing how best to experience other countries and cultures in a limited time span.
“They did all the planning. We had a sheet and we broke it down, transportation costs, etc,” Greenawalt explained. “Each girl was responsible to get different prices of different things. They figured out how much it would cost per day for food, roughly. What we wanted to see. Did it make sense to get oyster passes, that covers all these side things we wanted to do.”
The trip had some hurdles, starting with day one. Their flight was delayed for six hours, leaving the group stranded overnight at Newark airport and cutting most of their first day’s itinerary.
“But it taught them flexibility,” Greenawalt said. “We had a lot of things we changed midstream.”
Girl Scout Troop 1359 meets at Friedens Church in Stony Run on a bi-weekly basis. While trips to Europe are not the norm, the troop takes many local trips to explore members’ areas of interest and see what women in their community do.
Ross, who has been in scouts for 12 years, said, being a part of Girl Scouts is helping her college resume, and it also provides a lot of fun.
“You get close to everyone. They’re literally your sisters. It’s a great way to get away with a group of people and do adventures.”
“I like going on the trips, like camping and all the badges we earn,” Dieter added. “I definitely would recommend it, especially to younger girls. Girl Scouts is so good at teaching girls leadership and friendship.”
For details about the troop, contact Kay Greenawalt at 610-562-4329.