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Published: Wednesday, 10/17/2007

Onetime Toledo-area Girl Scout troop leader on mission to find 'lost sisters'

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Green Hat Society members, from left, Kathy Wilczynski Karocki, Bonnie Hamic, and Oneu Vince Kilby sing a hearty 'Happy Birthday' to Roseann Ciesla, a scouting pal living in New Hampshire. Green Hat Society members, from left, Kathy Wilczynski Karocki, Bonnie Hamic, and Oneu Vince Kilby sing a hearty 'Happy Birthday' to Roseann Ciesla, a scouting pal living in New Hampshire.
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"Once a Girl Scout Always a Girl Scout" is an adage Bonnie Hamic holds close to her heart.

The Whitehouse resident is an active member of the Green Hat Society, an organization of former Girl Scouts older than 50, and lately she's been a woman on a mission.

Ms. Hamic has been trying to track down former members of Girl Scout Troop 280, which was affiliated with the former Rosewood Presbyterian Church in Toledo's Old West End in the 1950s and moved to Trinity Episcopal Church downtown in the 1960s.

She was Troop 280's leader for 12 years, starting in 1958, having been a Scout herself in the 1940s.

"These are our lost sisters," Ms. Hamic explains. "One of the things the Girl Scouts teach you is that we're all family. We want to find these family members."

The Green Hat Society has no dues, and its membership rules are pretty loose. Any former Girl Scout can join, and can do so on the group's Web site at green-hatsociety.clubspaces.com.

For its members, Girl Scout ways die hard.

On Oct. 27, the women will gather at Ms. Hamic's home for a "Campfire Singalong." They'll bring song books, guitars, and lawn chairs and sing the songs they knew as girls.

"Singing was an important part of the Girl Scout experience," Ms. Hamic explained. "It brought you together. We all kept our old song books."

In May, the "Greenies," as they sometimes call themselves, had an encampment at Girl Scout Camp Libbey, near Defiance. They swapped stories about camping there in the 1950s and '60s, walked the old paths, and shared photos and memories.

Kathy Karocki of Perrysburg was a member of Troop 280 under Ms. Hamic's leadership. She credits the Girl Scouts with broadening her social exposure while a student at St. Adalbert's grade school in Toledo, where most all of the students were Polish and Catholic.

"Through Scouting I met girls from all over the city, and we all had similar interests," she explained.



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