Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Flora Poulos: Girl Scout for Life!

Flora Poulos (left) Girl Scout and member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society


“Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout” isn’t just a motto—it’s a way of life.

Flora Poulos has been a Girl Scout for nearly 70 years. Her amazing journey includes camp memories; international travel; and, of course, friendship.

Flora lost her father at a very young age and described her self-esteem afterward as “a little rocky.” But Girl Scouts gave her the awesome experiences, confidence, and life skills she craved—she has visited all four World Centers; attended the 1959 Senior Girl Scout Roundup in Colorado; and served as a troop volunteer, committee chair, and board member of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Her experience as a camp counselor helped Flora decide to become a teacher: “Having all of those little brownies wanting to hold my hand was self-affirming,” she explains. “It didn’t matter how I looked or where I came from in those special moments.”

Today she currently chairs a quilting guild, frequently holds events for her retirement community, and has friends from all over the world. She credits all of this to her nearly 70 years as a Girl Scout: “I feel enriched by the thousands of girls and adults I’ve met during my Girl Scout journey.”

Girl Scouts, says Flora, “pushes you to step outside of your comfort zone.” And whether it was supporting Brownies as a troop volunteer, selling Girl Scout Cookies, or traveling to Kenya to plant trees as part of a water conservation project, Girl Scouts was the key that unlocked these amazing experiences for her. 

In 1997, Flora’s council was matched with a group of girls in Kenya. Eight Girl Scout Seniors and five adults, including Flora, traveled to camp with Girl Guides from around the world and planted trees to conserve water. The trip was part of an International Partnership Project that was started in 1989. GSUSA matched Flora’s Pennsylvania-based council with Kenyan Girl Guides, and together the two groups developed a joint project for the girls in both countries. When the project began, both groups of girls identified the need for good-quality water in their host community. A patch program was developed that included planting trees to prevent erosion, and the girls’ activities focused on the importance of water.

Flora, standing second from right, at the Kenya trip reunion
Six of the eight girls involved in the water conservation project met up at a 20-year reunion of the trip to Kenya. And every year, Flora hosts Girl Scout reunions at her retirement community—where nearly all of the 2,000 women are Girl Scouts!

Now, as a member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, which honors and celebrates those who have made a planned gift to Girl Scouts, Flora is making sure that experiences like hers are available to the next generation of women leaders. “It’s an amazing sisterhood,” says Flora. “It just permeates your life.”

To learn more about how you can join the Juliette Gordon Low Society, please contact Katie McCollom at kmccollom@girlscouts.org.