Little did long-time Robbinsville resident Samantha DeMartino know when she joined Girl Scout Troop 71140 as a cadette in fifth grade that a decade later, she would be one of the “faces” of the organization’s most iconic products.
This year, as a senior in high school, her photo is on every single Girl Scout cookie box.
Two years ago, she received an email from the Girl Scouts asking her to send headshots to the person in charge of media and to complete an application.
“They did not tell us what the photos were for, so I assumed that it was for camp pamphlets or other program advertising,” she wrote in an email.
A couple days later, DeMartino got another email inviting her to take photos at Camp Rickabear, a Girl Scout camp in northern New Jersey. Photographers were taking shots of many sets of girls, and about a year later, she got the news that her photo had been selected to be on the cookie box.
In the photo she is standing in the center, with two younger girls on either side.
“Our hands are in the center,” she said. “It is supposed to symbolize the trefoil logo to symbolize mentorship—how an older girl can teach younger girls and younger girls can teach older girls.”
At the unveiling ceremony at the council office in East Brunswick in August 2019, her mother, uncle, and grandmother looked on.
In front of her was a package with a variety of stickers on it, and the Girl Scout staff surprised her by announcing they would film her as she opened the box and explained what she saw, thereby creating “an unboxing video.”
Inside the box was confetti and a note from the CEO of Girl Scouts. Finally she reached the cookie boxes. “I opened it, and said, oh, it’s green, it’s Thin Mints,” DeMartino said. “Then the videographer and the woman with me said, ‘We have a better surprise—you are on every single box.’ I started crying. It was really an inspiring moment for me—it had been a big secret until Jan. 7.”
Although DeMartino first joined Girl Scouts because a couple of her friends were in a troop, selling cookies and doing service projects, when she was in seventh grade and ready to design a project for her Silver Award, things got more personal and serious.
“I chose to do STEM because that was what I was looking to for a career, and there was no other program than Girl Scouts that gave me that outlet to explore STEM,” she said.
Because girls were underrepresented in the STEM community, she created a program to teach science to younger girls over seven weeks in the afterschool segment of a summer program at Robbinsville High School. For an hour each afternoon, she taught them kitchen science and involved them in make-your-own projects, like creating rock candy or putting Mentos in Coca Cola to create an explosion. She was careful to take account of their interests as she made lesson plans.
The program was successful, with an average of 10 girls in attendance. Because part of a Silver Award project is that it must be sustainable, DeMartino left her lesson plans to be distributed in future years, and she knows they were used the year after she did her project.
After DeMartino completed her Silver Award in eighth grade, she decided to leave her troop and become a Juliette Girl Scout because, she says, “I found it easier to be successful on my own, and I was really busy with my other afterschool active; I found easier to do it self-regulated.”
She then did Girl Scout trainings that would allow her to become a media rep and a program aide.
The media training, she writes in an email, “is designed to make girls feel comfortable speaking with new people and sharing their stories and experiences in Girl Scouts.”
By learning about etiquette and practicing public speaking, she earned the designation “media girl,” which opened her to potential media opportunities that her local council, Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey, emailed her about. These ranged from representing the Girl Scouts by appearing on the news or on a social media site to serving as an emcee at the “girl awards” for Girl Scouts in her local council who had earned bronze, silver, or gold awards or done any outside community service, which she did for three years running.
Program aide training involved learning to put together a program that girls can participate in, via ice breakers and other small games that can make girls of all ages feel comfortable and lesson plans “that can distribute information in an organized way,” using PowerPoint presentations, handouts, and pamphlets.
Two years ago DeMartino joined her council’s executive board as one of a few “girl reps,” whose role, she says, is “to be the voice for the girls in our council by giving our perspective on different things we’ve seen: how can we make programs better, recruit more girls, get more people involved in outdoor activities and STEM, and see what programs work and what programs didn’t.”
At the beginning of summer 2019, DeMartino became her council’s STEM intern, responsible for facilitating STEM activities, , such as robotics, astronomy, and engineering programs, both at the council level and at STEM-related conferences, where about STEM content and possible careers. She typically teaches younger girls, Daisies and Brownies, pre-K to third grade, researching topics ranging from working with differently abled people to making different kinds of slime, then coming up with related activities and putting together a presentation.
Because Robbinsville does not have an animal shelter, she decided for her Gold Award to establish a pet rescue club at her school whose goal “is to spread the message of animal rescue.” The club, now two years old, works in conjunction with
Pet Rescue of Mercer, which rescues neglected, abused, and abandoned animals from local shelters and also helps owners who need to give up their pets by finding temporary and permanent homes from them.
The club has done drives to gather food and toys for these pets. It also participates in community events, like Robbinsville’s annual pet parade, and sets up its club booth to both recruit more members and advertise for the Pet Rescue of Mercer. In May the club is planning a community event, perhaps a “doggie dash,” that can involve people together with their pets.
DeMartino also has her hand in other activities at Robbinsville High School. In the fall she plays the snare drum in the marching band, and in her junior and senior years was drum line captain. In the spring she does stage management for the high school musical, having started working on stage crew in seventh grade. She is also a member of the drama club and the Tri-M Music Honor Society and president of the National Honor Society.
DeMartino’s mother, Joanne DeMartino, is an art teacher in for the Howell Township Board of Education, and her father, Jason DeMartino, is a federal agent. She also has a stepmother and two younger half-siblings.
Talking about what being a Girl Scout has meant in her life, DeMartino says, “Starting when I was young, I felt like I had confidence but felt like there was nothing to give me a place to explore what I liked. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. I didn’t really have a sense of direction. Once I joined Girl Scouts, it gave me the opportunity to explore anything or everything I’ve always wanted to.” Next year she plans to get started at college as a biology major.