OLD TOWN – As her Bronze Award Project last year, Melissa Thibodeau of Troop 152 developed an idea for a new badge that Junior Girl Scouts could earn. She called it the Sympathy Badge.
The idea came to her when her troop leader’s father passed away. She designed the badge and wrote up steps to completing the badge.
Junior Girl Scouts are required to complete six steps to earn a badge. Usually there are 10 to 12 steps to choose from. Thibodeau’s steps related to helping people to feel better when they are sad. Her badge was accepted as a “Troop’s Own Badge” and was presented to Thibodeau with her Bronze Award at the troop’s Court of Awards Ceremony in June 2003.
In an effort to further develop her badge as an Abnaki Council badge, several steps were added to make it more global in nature. On April 4, 2004, these additional steps were presented to Troop 152. One of the additional steps was to find out about burial rites from different cultures. Melissa researched several of these on the Internet, and gave an audio-visual presentation to her fellow troop members.
Larry Hersom of Brookings-Smith in Bangor visited the troop and discussed various types of funeral arrangements that are common in this country. He handed out materials to the girls and answered their many questions about decisions that need to be made by families at a difficult time. He also made a generous donation to the troop on behalf of Brookings-Smith.
Since flowers are often part of funerals, another step was to find out what types of floral arrangements families choose for loved ones who have passed away.
Susan Laferriere of Lougee & Frederick’s in Bangor brought display books and talked about different kinds of funeral floral arrangements and how families choose them. She also offered to help with Sympathy Badge work in the future.
Hersom and Laferriere took time on a Sunday afternoon to speak with the troop and answer their questions about a topic that is often thought to be too intense for 11- and 12-year-olds.
On the contrary, troop leaders pointed out, most children have lost people and pets they loved very much, and they have questions that are easier to answer than one might think. Members of Troop 152 greatly appreciated the efforts of Susan Laferriere and Larry Hersom to bring the topic of death out in the open for young people.