Kerry Cordy, owner and founder of Frontier Girls, a nationwide program offered as an alternative to Girl Scouts, lives by Gandhi’s edict “Become the change you want to see.” When she was in fourth grade, she joined Girl Scouts because it looked like fun, and her friends were in the program. Her mother became the troop leader. “She was fantastic,” says Kerry. “She took seven of us all the way to the Gold Award – the highest award a Girl Scout can receive.”
When Kerry had daughters of her own, she enrolled them in Scouting and volunteered as the troop leader. “I decided, though, that I wanted a more traditional program that reflected the original values of Girl Scouts, as those values had changed through the years.” She looked for an alternative and didn’t find one so decided to “become the change” and start a group herself. She used the original version of the Girl Scout Handbook, published in 1913, as the inspiration for what became Frontier Girls. “Our program goes right back to the values where Girl Scouts began,” she says.
In fall 2006, as a homeschool parent, Kerry posted a notice on the Redding Homeschool Network stating that she was beginning a multi-age Scout-type troop for girls as an alternative to Scouting. To her surprise, 30 parents showed up at the first meeting, and Frontier Girls was born. “I wanted to merge the best of homeschool and Scouting philosophies,” she explains. Now there are 149 Frontier Girls troops across 43 states, each as its own entity. All materials are downloaded and purchased online.
Girls earn badges just like in traditional Scouting programs. “We have over 1200 badges,” says Kerry. “We want the girls to love to learn, so we encourage them to be creative in coming up with ideas for badges.” Some badges relate to traditional skills, others are more unique. Kerry designs and writes the requirements for the badges, and her assistant, Abby Olson, a homeschooled senior in high school and a Frontier Girl since the Redding troop originated, transfers them onto 1-inch buttons. They are purchased for under $1.
“Abby is amazing,” reports Kerry. “She is my office and shipping manager, and the person who keeps me organized.” Abby shows as much appreciation for Kerry. “Ms. Cordy is very enthusiastic,” she says. “She helps you along your path through school and toward a career. She knows how to take things that seem irrelevant to everyday life and make them useful.”
An achievement Kerry takes special pride in is the Life Skills program. She developed it so that by the time girls finish high school, they are prepared to function independently in the world. The girls learn everything from doing laundry and ironing to balancing a checkbook and filling out tax forms.
Kerry says she enjoys the challenge of finding ways of keeping each activity interesting for girls of all ages and abilities. Currently, troop members range in age from 4 through 18. Thirteen-year-old Emelyn has been in the Redding troop since she was five. Her mother, Shawna Bennett, understands the importance of including all girls inactivities. “Kerry has been a huge blessing,” she says. “Emelyn has a physical disability, and Kerry always makes her feel like she can do everything the other girls can do. When I think of Kerry, I appreciate how dedicated she is to all girls.”
The Fronter Girls experience is also rewarding for troop leaders. Learn about becoming a troup leader and ways to start a troop by visiting the Frontier Girls website.
When not working with Frontier Girls, Kerry, who moved to Redding from Santa Cruz in 2000 with her family, enjoys spending time with her husband, Allen, and her two daughters, Katie, 16, and Kristine, 13. They live on 40 acres that has a bass pond. “Although we travel together, we love being at home and having everyone come to us,” she says. “We are a very close-knit family.”
Kerry loves reading, scrapbooking, and writing and singing songs. She appreciates the richness in her life, and shares that “Frontier Girls is my passion. This is what I do. It’s what I love. I’ll be doing this forever.”
Kerry Cordy can be reached at (530) 524-8799; the Frontier Girls website is http://www.frontiergirlsclubs.com.
[sws_blue_box box_size=”580″]The mission of our Be the Change column is to feature a community member from the North State who is actively making a difference in the lives of children and families. If you would like to nominate someone who is making a difference, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org[/sws_blue_box]