SHIRLEY -- The Scouts of Shirley want you to know that they are looking for a few good men, women, boys and girls to join them in serving their community and having fun.

That was the message at the recent "Scout-a-Palooza," held at the Shirley Center Town Common.

There, representatives of the Shirley Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Venture Scouts gathered to welcome new members. Susan Dean, Girl Scout Nashaway Service Unit coordinator/registrar, and trip coordinator for Shirley Boy Scout Troop 7, said there are 40 Girl Scout troops in the Nashaway Service Unit, which includes the towns of Ayer, Shirley, Groton and Dunstable.

Venture Crew 34 Scoutmaster Kathy Bourassa, who was recently awarded the Nashua Valley Council Silver Beaver Medal, the highest award a local council may present to a volunteer, was on hand with Venture Scouts Meghan Bourassa and Jessica Thomson, both 17.

Kathy, who has been involved in Scout leadership for 25 years, explained that Venture Scouting is for girls and boys ages 14 through 20. There are currently 14 Venturers involved in Shirley Crew 34.

Her daughter, Meghan, has been in Venture Scouts for three years, and Jessica, for one year. The two girls said they enjoy hiking, camping, Nerf gun wars and volunteering as counselors for the Nashua Valley Council at the Webelos Woods spring and fall programs, which include weekend camping and other events.


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"It's more fun than Girl Scouts," said Thomson of Venturing. "You can tent, and we have awesome food."

She said that at her first meeting she had ribs, barbeque and spaghetti.

"We pride ourselves on eating well," she smiled.

"It's a lot of fun," added Megan. "I've met some really good friends in Scouts."

Eighth-graders Courtney Simpson, of Pepperell, and Desiree Taylor, of Ayer, represented Ayer Troop 60625.

"We always do fun things and volunteer for things I like to do," said Simpson. "This year we are (volunteering at) a soup kitchen in Lowell, cooking and serving the food."

The pair said there are six in their troop, and they are working on earning their Silver and Bronze awards. For the Silver, they are building a picnic table for the Groton Senior Center.

Earning the awards is part of their journey, for which they must complete a book and volunteer for 40 hours of community service, plus do a small project. They are looking for sponsors who can help them purchase the materials they need, they said.

Their troop leader, Christina Simpson, has been a leader for eight years.

"I was a volunteer as a mom and loved it," she said. Then one of the leaders stepped down and she was happy to step up. She serves as the organizer for Ayer and Shirley.

The Girl Scouts begin with Daisies for kindergarten and first grade, and go through grade 12 at the Ambassador level. Shirley Cub Scouts, currently led by 17-year veteran leader Gary Bourassa, is for grades 1 through 5.

Boy Scouts is available for boys between the ages of 11 and 18. Star, Life and Eagle Scout ranks may be earned through a boy's 18th birthday. The Shirley Troop 7 Boy Scoutmaster is David Dean, but each Scoutmaster, whether for Girl, Cub, Boy or Venture Scouts, depends upon the assistance of other Scout leaders and parent volunteers.

For information on Shirley Girl and Boy Scouts, contact Susan Dean at 978-877-3204, or dbdsbd@aol.com. To find out more about Cub and Venture Scouts, contact Kathy Bourassa at 978-425-4988, or garyandkathy122@comcast.net.