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Scout leader encourages girls, fosters friendships
Faces and Places
0422 Faces and places1
Girl Scout leader Janis Finley has been involved with the organization for 20 years and currently oversees two troops.
Name: Janis Finley

Volunteer organization/activity: Girl Scout leader

How long have you been involved with the Girl Scouts? “Twenty years.”

What drew you to scouts?
“I was always interested. As a girl, we moved around a lot. My sister was involved and she took me to a Brownie meeting, but I didn’t like it.” However, Finely decided to give it a second chance when she became a parent. “When my daughter was old enough, I thought it might be kind of fun. At the time, I was a teacher’s aide and was used to working with little kids.”

What brought you from California, where you were living, to Georgia? “The man I married is from West Virginia. He’s a Southern boy and was always a little homesick. His folks retired here. He came to visit them and liked it, so he decided to move here.”

Do you have children? “Yes, three girls and one son.”

Where they all involved in scouting? “Yes, my son was a cub scout the same year I started my oldest daughter in scouting.”

Do any of your children plan to follow in your footsteps and become leaders?
“My oldest daughter has already been a leader, actually. And my granddaughter is 10 now and became involved when she was just 2 or 3. 
Finely said her middle daughter is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts and is also on the service team.
“My youngest daughter,” Finley said, “I’m not too sure about what she’s going to do.”

How many troops do you work with? Finley serves as the leader for two troops: Troop 30552, which is a troop of older girls, and Troop 30396, whose members range from 5 or 6 years old to fifth-graders.
“I’ve got daisies, brownies, juniors and a cadette or two,” Finley said.

Have you taken your troops to birthplace and home of Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah? “When I first got here, within six months, we went and viewed her home. It was amazing. As scouts, we got a special tour. We had to make reservations and we got worksheets and special information. It was exciting. They have the first headquarters in the carriage house behind the Andrew Low house and they let you go there and do bridging and investiture ceremonies.”

What’s your favorite part of being a Girl Scout leader?
“I don’t know if I have a favorite. I really like the way we do things in scouts. We let the girls have the experience of discovering themselves. We get an awful lot of girls who say, ‘I can’t do that,’ or ‘I don’t like that,’ and within a few months, they’ll just take over. It’s neat to see them change.”

What’s your least favorite part?
“Having to do so much paperwork involved with being a leader. I also train new leaders, which involves even more paperwork. It’s time-consuming.”

Everyone looks forward to Girl Scout cookie time. How busy do cookie sales keep you?
“I’ve done cookie sales for this area for a few years. We start training in November, but our official kickoff is the first Saturday in January. Cookies come in around Valentine’s Day and we have them on the streets, delivering and selling extras, for five or six weeks. By the end of March, the cookies are pretty hard to find. “Incentive prizes the girls work for come in around May.”

What’s the most popular cookie?
“It runs real close. Of course, Thin Mints and the Samoas. The scouts try to keep the five regulars every year — Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, Do-si-dos. There are three flavors they work with every year, they change those.”

Do you have to be a parent to be a scout leader?
“No. The program is changing so much. We are always looking for leaders.” Finley said volunteers can work with scouts on one specific skill or head up a whole troop. Anyone interested in volunteering with Girl Scouts can go to
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