How does a Girl Scout Alumna memorialize a long list of amazing achievements for a family of Girl Scouts and way too many badges to possibly showcase on a wall? Velma “Fae” Dinkle has displayed her incredible contributions to Girl Scouts in a unique way – by quilting. The three Girl Scout quilts she created are beautiful works of art that recount the Girl Scout experiences her family has had. They are a testament to the contributions Fae Dinkle has made for girls. Literally wrapped warm in her Girl Scout memories, Fae Dinkle is from Topeka, Kansas and is a Council Scout of the Year, First Class and Curved Bar Awards Recipient and former troop leader. This inspiring woman changed the lives of girls with her dedication to their education and putting them on the path to success.
“Fae” Dinkle was born in 1939 and joined Girl Scouts in second grade. Early in her Girl Scout life troop activities focused on crafts and education. She was fond of service projects like making tray favors for nursing homes because they were crafts. While she enjoyed crafting, many of the badges she earned were challenging, and completed independently. Learning to complete difficult badges on her own helped her develop self-motivation, a skill that served her later in life when she became a troop leader.
During junior high school, she started camping at Camp Daisy Hindman and doing outdoor activities with a local Boy Scout troop under the leadership of her mother and the co-leader. In the 1950s Girl Scouts and troop leaders at Camp Daisy would chop firewood in DRESSES! Even though camping wasn’t a focus of her experience as a Girl Scout, when Fae became a leader, it became at the heart of troop activities.
In high school Fae showed just how determined she was to remain a Girl Scout. She joined a new troop and had to go across town to attend meetings. By late high school, Fae was the only girl left in her new troop, but thanks to a dedicated leader, she was able to continue and earn her highest awards. “The lady running it was wonderful, she let me keep coming! I was the only girl in the troop, but she kept it going for me,” Fae said of her high school troop leader.
As an Alumna, Fae had two daughters who became Girl Scouts. When her oldest daughter, Diana, became a Brownie, she came full circle and became a leader, just like the one she had admired from her experience as a girl.
Fae wasn’t just a leader for one Girl Scout troop – she ended up leading three troops all at the same time! Imagine trying to coordinate all those girls without the internet or cellphones – that’s real leadership. When asked how she ended up with three troops she affectionately said “I’m just gullible I guess!” Because her husband worked nights, Girl Scouts was a way for her to be involved with her daughters, entertain her family and learn new things.
As a leader, Fae was dedicated to a “girl-led” troop experience. At the beginning of each year, she would ask troops to make a list of what they wanted to do, then help the girls achieve their top goals. Badge work was something she took very seriously as it became an opportunity for her to learn new things. “I wanted to be a teacher, so being a troop leader was close. For any badge we wanted to work on, I would go to the library and read all I could, educate myself first. Then I applied it to the girls,” said Fae.
Since the girls really liked camping, she organized camping trips that were a minimum of two nights to teach survival skills. By limiting camping to longer stays, she was also able to combine their outdoor event with a business educational experience by helping the girls raise funds to go camping. “The oldest girls really could raise money. They could sell anything and would work together to sell,” said Fae.
For Fae’s troops, camping was important because of the life skills it taught the girls. “[Because of camping,] girls become independent. They know they can build a fire, cook outside, they know they can survive. It makes them become willing to explore and learn,” Fae said.
The confidence her daughters gained from their troop experience gave them the courage to do Girl Scout activities that took their learning beyond their hometown. From ice fishing to hands-on STEM opportunities, Diana and Denise had adventures all over the country. Denise, the youngest who participated in the “Wider Opportunities” initiative, travelled to Omaha, Nebraska for a medical field focused trip that gave her an inside look at STEM fields. Now a nurse, Fae believes her daughter’s Girl Scout experience contributed to helping her find her career path.
Her favorite thing about being a troop leader was “watching [the girls] grow, and trying to help them get on the right path,” said Fae. This passion has been passed along and now the next generation is continuing the strong Girl Scout legacy in the Dinkle family. Fae’s granddaughter, Alyssa, is a Girl Scout in Shawnee, Kansas and has also spent time volunteering at Camp Tongawood.
After years of being a Girl Scout, a leader and the mother/grandmother of Girl Scouts, Fae sees the power of this program and what girls learn from being involved. She believes Girl Scouts provides essential life skills that every girl needs. “First, you need friends and what’s closer than a group of girls? You also need to learn a variety of things, not just one subject and in Girl Scouts you do that with all your badge work, service and camping. Then you need to learn to get along, and you do that by being with different girls,” Fae said,
What an inspiring woman, alumna and all around Girl Scout! Thank you to Fae Dinkle for years of incredible service and dedication to making the world a better place for girls. If you’d like to share a powerful Alumna story, comment below!