When it comes to children, Cynthia Bradley is all in. She has been a Girl Scout troop leader three times in 15 years, starting when her daughter was in first grade, and has run Creative Explorers childcare in her home for 35 years. For all she does, Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains has named her Volunteer of the Month for September.
Bradley, 56, of Charlotte, currently leads Girl Scout Troop 30066, a multi-level troop of Daisies through Cadettes in grades K through 7. After taking a break, she wanted to again be involved as a Girl Scout leader once one of her granddaughters joined six years ago. Along with her troop activities, Bradley homeschooled her own grandchildren along with others at her daycare when schools shut down due to COVID-19.
Through the pandemic, she’s endured technical issues, helped children with their schoolwork while parents had to work, and come up with lesson plans of her own. Once the girls had to shift to remote learning at school, Bradley kept in touch with them to make sure they were doing okay.
“Cynthia has been stellar,” said DeeDee Rice, volunteer support specialist at the Girl Scout council that supports girls in Vermont and New Hampshire. “She has been extremely active with programs for her troop as well as bringing her girls to council-sponsored programs and events. She follows up and follows through and is very attentive.”
“With day care, I’m going to be homeschooling five of those kids each week,” Bradley said at the end of August. “I’m still reading, trying to figure out what the plan is for school. This fall, expectations [for remote learning] will be set higher.”
Before the pandemic, her Girl Scouts were active with hiking, trips, cookies, and community service. They have participated in town parades and local Green Up Day litter pickups and collected food for the local food shelf. She coordinates activities so the girls at different levels can earn the appropriate badges. She also encourages her girls to be entrepreneurs with Girl Scouts’ fall products and cookies. Each Girl Scout sets her own personal goal and the troop keeps the records. Taking a trip to the Great Escape in New York was one of the troop’s goals, along with a trip to the Rocking Horse Ranch. At Great Escape, the girls participated in a cardboard boat race.
“We made two boats and costumes to go with them,” she said. “Carried them all the way across the Great Escape to the wading pool. They ended up earning an award for the judge’s choice for costumes and design. They decided to be unicorns. We made headbands with horns and skirts over their bathing suits. They didn’t get that far into the water before they sank, but had fun with it.”
At Rocking Horse Ranch, they did horseback riding, rock wall climbing, tubing, archery, shooting, and more. These trips were made possible through the Girl Scouts earnings from their entrepreneurial efforts. They managed to meet their goals just before the pandemic hit this year.
“The Sunday of our last cookie booth, we sold out,” said Bradley, “and the next day the council shut down. We were very fortunate.”
It’s the kids who keep her involved in Girl Scouting, she said, and she credits the parents and community members for being involved, too, such as one woman who taught the girls pottery.
“It’s given me a lot of hours of enjoyment,” she said. “Being a teacher, preschool teacher, I have that same feeling when I see a preschooler ‘click.’ It warms my heart. My husband says, ‘Why do you put so much time and effort into this?’ But in the end it’s just fun.”
Bradley encourages others to think about joining Girl Scouts. “It’s a wonderful way to have that one on one (with your daughter). If you get involved with your daughter, you watch her grow and flourish with all Girl Scouts has to offer. I’m hoping and planning on many more years of it.”