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Girl takes a photo from the Great Wall of China

Flamingo flocking

Sandy N. | Group Leader | Council Travel Facilitator

Our Junior Girl Scout troop of 24 girls decided they wanted to go on a 5-day trip to Disneyland and then eventually a 10-day trip to England. They first needed to figure out how to get there and since none of the girls knew how to read a map that would be one of the first skills to teach them. The second thing was how were they going to pay for the trip. We needed to help them figure out a way to make it fun and profitable, at the same time. That’s when a friend said his store would be willing to donate three lawn flamingos if they could use them and from there “it took flight”.

The girls decided that the “flock” needed to travel the same number of miles that it would take us to go to Disneyland and back, roughly 700 miles. Each night they would place the flock on someone’s lawn and mark that location on a map. The next night they would pick up the flock, determine a new host family and figure out how many miles it was between the two houses. It was amazing to watch how quickly they could find streets that had been unfamiliar to them on a map and plot the easiest route to the next house. The 700 miles came a lot faster than anyone could imagine.

Now how did they make this profitable? The girls decided they would place the flamingos on a lawn and ask for a small donation ($10) to have them removed. They also asked the host family to let them know where the flock should be delivered the next night by providing an address of friends and/or families they would like us to share the flock with. A note was included letting the family know that if they decided they didn’t want to host the flock, they could call me and I would come pick them up, which only happened once and we moved them to a neighbor’s house. The girls also let everyone know that if they had a special request for a visit, they could reserve the flock for a $25 fee.

To make it fun for the host family, we left a journal so they could share the stories of their experiences with the flock. The girls were so excited to pick them up so they could read the journals to see what the flamingos had done. Highlights include square dance lessons, deep sea fishing, skiing in Tahoe, trips to Girl Scout camp, and dressing up for special occasions, including the Mayor’s inauguration. We helped celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and even scared one dad because he thought the “storks” were trying to tell him something. We have a collection of nine journals that chronicle their stories, including pictures and newspaper articles.

It didn’t take long for the word to get around about our flock. For six years the girls moved the flock almost every night. It helped them earn money for two trips to Disneyland and a 10-day trip to England. It was a lot of fun helping the girls to achieve their goals of learning how to read a map and coming up with a successful and fun way to earn money for travel.