WERNERSVILLE, Pa. — When Girl Scout cookie season rolls around, 98-year-old Ronnie Backenstoe might just be the most excited (and experienced) Girl Scout around.
“I could always eat some cookies,” said Backenstoe, with a smile.
She’s proudly donned the Girl Scout uniform for 88 years.
“I became a Girl Scout in 1932!” said Backenstoe. “I said, ‘When can I be a Girl Scout?’ My mom said, ‘When you’re 10,’ so when I was 10, I was ready to go!”
Her adventures in Girl Scouts have taken her from coast to coast and around the world. Later in life, as a scoutmaster, she recalled traveling to Jamaica and Switzerland with her troop.
“I don’t know if you ever tried to get in a uniform in a pup tent,” said Backenstoe. “I did. It’s not easy!”
Even in retirement at the Phoebe Berks retirement community in Wernersville, Backenstoe is still going strong.
“Her stamina, her energy, her mind, she’s non-stop,” said Barbara Allen Perelli, the troop leader.
“In general, she just makes me laugh when I’m with her,” Senior Girl Scout Amber Holl said.
Backenstoe said she’s happiest while selling cookies alongside her fellow scouts.
“Oh, I love it, oh yes,” said Backenstoe with a smile.
Her favorite Girl Scout cookie are the peanut butter ones.
Backenstoe said back in the day when she first became a Girl Scout in the 1930s, there were only three different kinds of cookies, and each box cost just about 15 cents. While the price certainly has gone up, Backenstoe said her mission remains the same: to inspire and educate future generations.
“I think that it was just part of living, and that’s what really Girl Scouting is,” said Backenstoe. “It teaches you how to live.”