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Seniors, Scouts bridge age divide

June 10, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - At age 79, it's been many years and many miles since Marguerite Hoover was in the Girl Scouts in Missouri.

But despite the decades that have passed, Hoover could still remember the words to one Scouting classic that Brownie Troop 822 sang to about 40 residents of The Shook Home in Chambersburg last week.

"Make new friends but keep the old, One is silver and the other gold," she said, reciting the first verse of the song.

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Since last fall, the troop has visited residents of The Shook Home and the Quarters several times, sometimes entertaining them with Christmas carols, other times with crafts and troop ceremonies.

At its final visit of the year, the troop organized a cookout and took personalized orders from the residents who gathered in the activity room on Thursday.

Troop Leader Cathi Horst, also an administrative assistant at The Shook Home, decided last year it would be a good idea to bring the girls and the residents together, so she formed the intergenerational Elder Buddies program.

"I've been working in nursing homes since I was 17. Children's groups do so well and bring so much joy to residents," she said.

The 17 Brownies, ages 7 to 10, come in almost monthly for crafts, songs and fellowship with residents who have an average age of 92, Horst said.

Residents said they enjoy the girls' visits, which sometimes bring back memories, as in Hoover's case.

"It's always a pleasure working with the children," said Glen Cump, who celebrated his 88th birthday Thursday at the cookout. "Most people really appreciate the visits. We like to see the youth involved."

And he did his best to interact with the girls.

"I told the young lady who waited on me that she would make a great waitress," he said.

While the residents chatted, the girls from Troop 822 took orders for hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans and salad.

Rachel Kilgore, 9, said she sometimes has trouble talking to the residents, but said for the most part it's like being around her grandparents.

"It's fun being around a lot of people," said Rebecca Berry, 8, who said she had the most fun Christmas caroling.

Horst's daughter, Autumn Stine, 9, said she often comes in with her mother to visit the residents.

"We talk about what they like to do and eat," she said.

Sara Fritz, 8, said it was nice to have the seniors in the audience when the troop held its Investiture Rededication ceremony at the home this spring.

Horst, along with co-leaders Carmen Seibert and Linda Fielding, said she plans to continue the Elder Buddies program with the 17 girls in the troop next fall.

"They learn a little to tolerate age and diversity, which is part of the Girl Scout way," she said.

Horst said the program has been good for the girls and some have blossomed because of it.

"A couple of the girls that were not as outgoing around other girls came alive around the residents and connected with them," she said.

Before she started the Elder Buddies program, Horst said she felt there was a need for the older adults to know they were appreciated.

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