WILLIAMSTOWN -- Barbie has officially joined the Girl Scouts.
This year, the Girls Scouts of the USA announced a new partnership to leverage Barbie as a career ambassador and campaign model for the new "Be Anything, Do Everything" patch for career exploration.
"With upwards of 135 diverse careers under her belt, Barbie has been a trailblazer for more than five decades," according to a press statement from the organization
A booklet given to scouts contains whimsical paper dolls that can be used to turn Barbie into an astronaut or a nurse.
"Together with Girl Scouts, we hope to inspire young leaders and help girls explore all their career possibilities," said Cathy Cline, vice president of U.S. marketing for Mattel Girls Brands.
Girl Scouts CEO Anna Marie Chávez said, "Like Girl Scouts, Barbie is an American icon; together, we are teaching girls that their futures are wide open with possibilities, and that they can accomplish anything they set their sights on in their careers."
On Saturday afternoon, 13 girls in pre-kindergarten through Grade 3, along with Berkshire County Girls Scout troop leaders and parents, gathered at the Williams Inn for a "Barbie and Me Tea Party," coordinated by Rebecca Dravis, membership development specialist for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts.
Instead of tea, juice and Girl Scout cookies were served. Afterward, the discussion around the table turned from dolls and dresses to what the girls might like to be when they grow up.
"Even at their age, they're thinking about [careers]," said Dravis.
"For my whole life, I've wanted to be a teacher," said Vivianna Belanger, a third-grader at Williamstown Elementary School. She admitted that she's even gotten up in the middle of the night to give lessons to her stuffed animals and dolls at the play chalkboard in her room.
Other ideas included veterinarian, doctor, dolphin trainer and dentist.
Inspired by her trip to the aquatics show at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida, Lanesborough Elementary School second-grader Echo Simonetta-Trombley said, "I want to be a mermaid." Echo already performs as a figure skater.
Alexa Heidel, a second-grader, said she wanted to be "an artist so I can go to Paris."
She brought in three guest speakers to tell the girls about their jobs: Ginny Sheldon, a retired school counselor; Jennifer Welch, a physical therapist, and Kirsten Rose, children's librarian for the Milne Public Library in Williamstown.
Colleen Blanchard, Echo's grandmother and a troop leader, said the Girl Scout programs also teach things like budgeting and financial literacy, science, humanitarian skills and more.
Sheldon, a Girl Scout alumna, said, "I think the values like these, that are taught in Girl Scouts now, can affect what they do when they're older."
As a teenager, Sheldon volunteered as a candy striper hospital volunteer and with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, before helping students as a counselor.
"I think there is a connection to what I learned then and what I do as a job," she said.
To reach Jenn Smith:
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To learn more about the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts, contact Rebecca Dravis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 588-2071. To learn more about the "I Can Be " Barbie and Girl Scouts campaign, visit forgirls.girlscouts.org/beanything.