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06/22/2021 02:03 PM

Girl Scouts Assist Surf Club with Crowd-Sourced Litter Cleaning Project

Girl Scout Troop 63260 assembles at the Surf Club as they put together a community-driven litter cleaning project, hoping to give back after using Madison’s recreational spaces during the pandemic. The scouts are (from left) Francesca Flood,Colette Duques, Morgan Chiat, Livy Breckheimer, Charley Thompson, Annie Thompson, Lilliana Francis, Rylee Meade, Shea Oliveira, Lila Francis, and Peyton Breckheimer accompanied by Cindy Breckheimer and Laura Francis. Scouts Halston and Tippy Mattioda are not pictured.Photo by Jesse Williams/The Source

For several long months marred by lockdowns and virus, the relative safety of the sweeping outdoor space at the Surf Club proved to be a critical asset for the young members of Girl Scout Troop 63260, who were able to meet and work in a limited capacity through the spring.

Now, with summer spreading a new light and people beginning to return to normal activities, the girls decided they wanted to give back to the space that had gotten them through the difficult part of the year, according to troop co-leader Cindy Breckheimer, through a unique, community-driven project meant to rally residents around keeping Madison’s beach and park space clean.

Last week, about a dozen girl scouts worked with parents and troop leaders to build a special kiosk that will house buckets, which can be borrowed to assist any Surf Club resident in picking up litter and maintaining a beautiful, safe, and environmentally healthy coastline.

“We’re excited to give back,” Breckheimer said. “One of our first meetings, we picked up trash here, so they really felt the buckets were a good idea.”

“Anyone can just grab one, go pick up trash and go dump it in the dumpster,” she added. “It just gives people the opportunity to do something while they’re here.”

The kiosk has not yet been installed as the troop is seeking a location that can be properly secured against weather and wear, according to Breckheimer, but should be up soon. Reach extenders—hand-held grabbing devices that can also assist with trash pickup—will also be available, likely stored at the snack shop, she said.

Girls from the troop, who are in kindergarten through 2nd grade, assisted in every part of the project, from soliciting sponsorship from local businesses, lobbying the Beach & Recreation Department, and building the actual kiosk itself, which is meant to become a permanent amenity at the beach.

The project ended up with nine local business sponsors, according to Breckheimer, corresponding to the nine buckets in the kiosk, and the intention is eventually to get the name of those sponsors branded on a bucket.

“Every business was from Madison,” she said.

As for the girls themselves, Breckheimer emphasized that even at this young age, the girl scouts require members to lead as much of their projects as possible. Besides letter-writing, the girls also scripted and filmed a video promoting the project, according to Breckheimer, and got to participate in everything from joint-making to drilling slots to construct the kiosk.

They were also well-versed in the need for conservation, with scouts expressing the importance of properly disposing of trash to protect birds and turtles, and connecting ground and water pollution with the eventual degradation of other ecosystems.

Littering is “not respectful,” they said, and their project allows everyone to help work on the problem.

Breckheimer said this was the girls’ first significant collaborative, community project since the pandemic, and the feeling of being able to get back to their mission of building up their community, specifically at a place that had offered them so much.

“This is big, to be able to get together and do a project like this,” she said.