Lillian Henry heard something scratching on the rolled-down screen of her cabin door at Camp Catron. She cautiously peered out into the pitch black night.
Lilly jumped when she saw glowing eyes. A lot of eyes. Raccoons? But raccoons couldn’t possibly be way up here. Lilly, along with four other Girl Scouts, were packed into a sky cabin. The wooden structure elevated them into the trees well above the ground and out of reach of raccoons.
“We are all going to die,” one girl freaked out, screaming.
Lilly couldn’t blame her. Lilly wanted gum. It always calmed her down. Her sister, Genavieve “Evie,” had what she needed, but she was far away. Outside was whatever had the glowing eyes and was scratching on their door. Bravery or impulsiveness rushed through the then-12-year-old-girl.
“People don’t make good choices at 3 a.m., even Girl Scouts,” Lilly, now 14, recalls, laughing.
Along with a friend, Lilly walked out in the cool night air. She banged on the door and woke up her sister.
“I was having a scary dream about a bear eating me,” Evie says.
But she didn’t get angry at her sister and laughed it off. Pawprints on the screens confirmed the girls’ fear in the morning. The sisters believed the raccoons wanted to share in the fun, be honorary members of the squad. This camaraderie and adventure are two of the reasons why the pair have been in Girl Scouts well into their middle and high school years.
Evie, a sophomore at Gretna High School, started as a Daisy Scout, skipped Brownies, and returned as a Senior Scout. She plans to become an Ambassador. Lilly started as a Brownie. The eighth grader at Gretna Middle School is now a Cadette with Troop No. 44640. They are on the fence about camping. It depends on the weather or the mosquitos.
“Mosquitos get you in places you never knew existed,” Evie says.
This doesn’t deter them from zip-lining, tubing, and other outdoor escapades. In fact, the entire Henry family bonds over their love of all things Scouts. Heather is the leader of Evie’s troop, No. 43855. Matt leads his youngest two sons’ Cub Scouts Pack No. 244. Nick, 12, spends his time in Troop No. 282 with the Boys Scouts.
“It’s definitely a shared experience,” Matt says.
The sisters, dressed in their badge-adorned vests, are adamant their Scouts rule. Boy Scouts focus more on camping while the girls’ program offers a diverse mix of fun and education. It doesn’t matter if someone is a girly-girl or a tomboy.
“It [Girl Scouts] balances the love of outdoors and spa parties,” Heather agrees. “Girls just like to have fun.”
Nick, though, enjoys pitching a tent surrounded by the fresh air of the wilderness.
“You hear the crickets. You look up into the night sky and see a ton of stars,” Nick says.
Nick tells stories around a blazing campfire set by his own two hands. Along the way, he is gaining knowledge about being a leader and speaking in front of a group.
Signature programs are offered for boys and girls all the way to senior year and includes such topics as college applications, conferences, or leadership skills.
Lilly believes the educational opportunities and activities empower women. She made a car out of candy on Engineering Day and learned how to put together a toilet from the only female plumber in Lincoln. Scouting has opened her eyes to a world of possibilities for young women.
Evie loves to help the younger children and meet fellow “sisters.”
“They are full of energy and have these cute ideas. They don’t know the world will fight them every step of the way,” Evie says.
Evie was once that little girl, sitting around the campfire terrified of her first time without her parents. Only 7 or 8, she wanted to go home.
“Why don’t you have some s’mores,” a leader told her. She helped Evie through her fears while they munched on sandwiches of toasted marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. Leaders like these have inspired Evie to become more extroverted.
Wendy Hamilton, a senior development director, met the sisters through the Girl Scout Advisory Group (GSAG) two years ago. The girls connected with Wendy’s gung-ho attitude, determination, and her love of all things pink.
“Lilly is so positive and represents her age group in a mature way. Nothing scares Lilly, ever,” Hamilton says.
Except maybe raccoons at 3 a.m.
She says Evie is “always supportive of other girls.” Hamilton has seen her become more comfortable with herself. The sisters couldn’t be more different. Evie wants to be an engineer or a dentist. Lilly wants to be an English teacher or writer. The two still fight over things like socks, but the friendship is tight.
Volunteering, including selling those famous cookies, can stack on the hours, but it’s worth it. The girls earned a trip to Washington D.C. to immerse themselves in history. The family works together to sell Christmas trees or popcorn. It can be chaotic with five children, but it works when the family can unite over shared interests.
Some days are wilder than others, but the Henrys are happy being together.
This article was originally printed in the Spring/Summer 2018 edition of Family Guide.