Boxes upon boxes of Girl Scout cookies lined tables in the Routt County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall last week as troop leader Lori Laird and Laurie Hallenbeck separated the Thin Mints from the Trefoils and the Samoas from the Do-si-Dos.
As the cookies were divided, Hayden Girl Scouts began filing into the Exhibit Hall to pick up their cookies to deliver to the patrons all over town. Most of the girls brought their parents, who helped them carry numerous boxes of cookies out to waiting cars.
Selling Girl Scout cookies is a tradition that has helped to fund Girl Scout activities since 1917, and it remains the organization's biggest money-maker today.
But selling cookies is just one activity that funds the many others Girl Scouts participate in each year. The troop takes trips to destinations that typically have historical significance.
"When we go places, it's not just for fun, but it's educational," said Laird, who has been with the Girl Scouts for more than 35 years.
"Some of the girls have never been to the zoo or seen the ocean, so it's easy to combine fun and education," Hallenbeck said.
In recent years, the Hayden Girl Scouts have taken trips to Mesa Verde for cave tours, Glenwood Springs for horseback riding and rafting, Dinosaur for camping, Idaho to see geysers and a Renaissance Fair and, last year, Mount Rushmore for the Fourth of July.
The troop is planning its biggest and most highly anticipated trip next year, to Hawaii, where snorkeling with dolphins and volcano sight-seeing are on the itinerary. The trip is expensive, which means the scouts are putting their teamwork to the test to raise enough money, Hallenbeck said.
Twenty-six girls are involved in the Hayden program, ranging in age from the 5-year-old Daisies to the senior Scouts in grades seven through 11.
Many of the girls are learning that the longer they stick with scouting, the more benefits they see -- for themselves and their peers.
Hayden's most highly decorated Girl Scout, senior Danielle Laird, is taking trips on her own and realizing the benefits of prolonged involvement with the scouts.
As the Hayden Girl Scouts' only recipient of the prestigious Silver Award for community service, she will pursue the highest honor, the Gold Award, this summer. She will travel to Kansas City, Mo., to be a counselor at a camp for disabled girls. Then she will try to earn the award by initiating a camp for disabled girls at the regional Girl Scouts headquarters in Grand Junction, Danielle said.
"The longer you're in Girl Scouts, the more opportunities you have," Danielle said. "But whatever I do, it reflects on everyone else. I have to be on my best behavior."
The Girl Scouts Gold Award is a recognition of at least 50 hours in one area of community service and accomplishment of personal goals. Colleges and universities often recognize the award on enrollment applications, Lori Laird said.
Eighth-grade Cadette Margot Binetti agreed that sticking with the Girl Scouts is a good thing.
"Everybody notices what were doing," Binetti said. "We're helping the community and we get to do it with all our friends."
The troop arranges many activities for Hayden's senior citizens, including ice cream socials, spaghetti dinners, singing Christmas carols and preparing gift baskets filled with goodies. The Girl Scouts also work to keep both sides of a 2-mile section of U.S. 40 near Milner clean.
"It's just like the (Girl Scouts') phrase 'Where Girls Grow Strong.' This is a safe place among their peers," Lori Laird said. "Some are not really friends in school, but they're all friends in Girl Scouts."