English Girl Guides meet Sonoma counterparts
Sonoma Valley Girl Scout Sarah Hinchman played hooky from school for a few hours on Friday, her Sweet 16th. It wasn’t for her birthday, though. Hinchman had some international business pending.
She was among those hosting a group of Girl Guides from the United Kingdom visiting Sonoma Plaza for the morning. The Guides — counterparts to American Girl Scouts — were on their final day of a whirlwind week-long tour of the North Bay.
Meeting the 31 teen girls and their nine chaperones from Hampshire, on the southern coast of England, put the worldwide Girl Scout and Girl Guide movement into perspective for Hinchman.
“It made me more happy to be a Girl Scout,” she said. “It showed me how special it is.”
Sonoma County Girl Scout alumni and volunteers arranged the trip after traveling to England two years ago to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Girl Guide movement. In return, the British group traveled to the North Bay to mark the centennial of the Girl Scout program in the United States.
“They’re just absorbing everything,” said longtime Girl Scout volunteer Carol Short, who spent the week leading visits to San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore, Armstrong Grove, Safari West and Sonoma.
The group stayed at a Girl Scout resident camp in Marin and trekked for an overnighter at a Santa Rosa horse ranch complete with an all-American barbecue and square dancing.
“It’s been really breathtaking,” said 14-year-old Girl Guide Anna Golding.
“It’s once-in-a-lifetime,” added Josie Ashdown, 15.
Their friend, 15-year-old Anna Haines, was taken not only with the diverse beauty of the region and the friendliness of the American people, but with the commonality she has found meeting local Girl Scouts.
“One of the most bizarre things is meeting people from other parts of the world and you share things that are the similar, even though you live thousands of miles away,” she said.
— Dianne Reber Hart