AUSTIN (KXAN) — As divers submerged in Lake Travis Sunday for the annual lake cleanup, among them was a group of Girl Scouts. Troop 40348, which now boasts eleven members, holds the title of being the first scuba Girl Scout troop.
Troop leader and scuba instructor Karina Erickson explained this means the girls will do all the same things as other Girl Scouts — work to achieve badges, go camping, sing songs — but with a scuba and environmental focus. Erickson explained this troop has been active for two years and all of the girls involved are now advanced scuba divers.
“I’d taken the discover scuba course with Girl Scouts and I had fallen in love instantly,” explained one troop member, Sage F. Sage, who had been a girl scout from a young age, made the switch a year ago when she learned she could learn more about scuba while she continued her progress as a Girl Scout.
She participates because she’d like to dive professionally some day and because she thinks it’s important for younger generations to take a leadership role when it comes to conservation. On Sunday, Sage collected two bags full of garbage from Lake Travis during her dive.
Sage admitted that most of the people in her grade don’t totally understand her hobby, which is why the troop is so special to her.
“We get to talk about how much we love the ocean and all these different things,” Sage said. “Like, for example, we got excited about getting new tanks. Not a lot of people can relate to that at school.”
This troop has gone diving throughout Texas. They have also taken a trip to the Florida Keys and plan to take a trip to the Virgin Islands.
They even did an underwater Girl Scout cookie booth, filling orders for cookies from inside the pool where they practice at Dive World Austin.
It seems the biggest elements that tie these girls together are a love of being underwater and a desire to improve the health of the world’s oceans.
Though these Central Texas scouts are several hours away from an ocean, they love to talk about how what’s happening in their backyards impacts ocean health.
“Everything that starts in the lake leads to a river and from the river it goes to an ocean, and that’s really what we’re all about is ocean conservation,” said troop member Sidney S.
“[Ocean health] affects the ecosystem and the animals and the plants, and that’s what I really care about,” said troop member Ella S.
“The entire world depends on water, so if our water isn’t clean, then how do we expect the world to depend on anything?” said Eleanor V.
These Girl Scouts were able to quickly list off many things the average person could do to help out the oceans as well: buy coral-sensitive sunscreen, bring their own straws to restaurants and avoid non-recyclable plastic.