By Sammi SLAYBACK
Since the Girl Scouts of the USA was founded a century ago, the organization has thrived and now boasts a membership of over three million girls and adults throughout the nation. The girls of Crescenta Valley’s Troop 391 have carried on the Girl Scout tradition of community involvement by participating in preservation efforts for the Verdugo Hills Golf Course.
Guided by troop leader Sharon Hales, for the past three years the fifth-grade girls of Troop 391 chose to take on the project of raising awareness about the preservation of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course. The project has earned the troop the Bronze Award, an honor given to Girl Scout troops after completing three years of service.
“Our community needs more open spaces and recreational spaces,” member Ellie Kohn said when asked why she and her fellow troop members chose such a challenging endeavor. “There isn’t much open space left, so we need to save the space we have.”
Over the course of their project, the girls have learned much about the history of the golf course, which they passed on to friends and family. The land was originally a Wikanga Indian village located half way between the San Gabriel and San Fernando missions. The village acted as a place of refuge and shelter for padres who frequently had to make the trip between locations.
The land was eventually purchased by five doctors who built the golf course. After the passing of the last surviving owner in 2004, the property was sold to Snowball West Investments.
What the girls of Troop 391 want to share with the community are the plans the investment company has for 28 of the 58 acres of land. According to their research, one proposal is to build 229 homes in place of the golf course and driving range.
The Girl Scouts are attempting to save what is a very unique golf course. With a 3-par, 18-hole course and 27-tee driving range, the Verdugo Hills Golf Course is a rare commodity. Not only is its structure uncommon but its hours of operation and usage for school activities set it apart from other competing courses.
The girls have been fighting to raise awareness and preserve the golf course in various ways. They have written letters to Los Angeles City Council members Paul Krekorian and Richard Alarcon asking them for their support, scootered in the Sunland-Tujunga 4th of July parade passing out balloons and fliers, and met with news reporters to voice their concern. In addition to these activities, the girls will be hosting a booth at the Arbor Day celebration on April 28 at Two Strike Park in order to further educate the community of their cause.
While the scouts have been actively participating in their community on a regular basis, the Girl Scouts organization isn’t only about hard work.
“It’s [also] really fun,” said troop member Hanna Wright. “You get to do a lot of fun things and see all of your friends.”