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Volunteer lauded for 50 years of service
Lifelong Girl Scout 3 es
Milton shows a photo of herself when she was 10 years old in her Girl Scout uniform. - photo by Emily Saunders
Mary Ann Milton first joined the Girl Scouts of America because “it was the only game in town,” she said.

As a 10-year-old in Montgomery, Ala., Milton donned the classic green uniform, sash and beret for the first time.

Sixty years later, the Forsyth County resident has a new pin on her green Scout polo, commemorating her 50 years of involvement with the organization.

“It’s not something we hear every day,” said Laura Skinner, a staff member of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. “We’ve had a whole bunch of 25s, but 50 is just amazing.”

The local council honored its longtime volunteer during a May 3 banquet at South Forsyth High School, presenting her with the coveted 50-year pin.

Only once has Milton taken a break from the Scouts. And that was for about a decade after finishing college.

During her collegiate days, she volunteered as an assistant Scout leader for a nearby troop.

It wasn’t until one night 10 years later that she re-entered the scouting world. Informed by a fellow league bowler that the Girl Scouts needed a leader, Milton perked right up and volunteered.

From that point on, she has volunteered wherever she lived, from Washington, D.C, and New York to the metro Atlanta area.

She said it’s the women and girls she meets that keep her so involved and dedicated.

“You make really good friends,” she said.

If nothing else, her basement is a testament to her love of Girl Scouts.

Camping guides and gear fill the shelves, boxes of scrapbooks sit upon a table and a map of Girl Scout patches from across the U.S. is posted on the wall.

Milton said she gets to swap the patches with other troops anytime there’s a meeting.

And she’s met a lot of Scouts in a lot of places.

As a young Girl Scout, Milton got the opportunity in 1956 to go to the first of four senior Girl Scout roundups.

The event brought 5,000 girls together in Michigan for two weeks.

Decades later, women from the roundup “sisterhood” gather at reunions. Milton has been to all three so far.

“Now we’re all little old ladies sitting around singing,” she said with a smile.

She’s also traveled to three of the four international Girl Scout centers — England, Mexico and Switzerland — with a group of women she met through a volunteer.

The Switzerland center, the first of the international locations, is depicted on one of her original badges.

Milton said she earned that one for international friendship.

“I was able to remember what they all were without looking them up,” Milton said of her badges. “I was very proud of myself.”

In case she needs to look up any of the vintage ‘50s patches, she has the “Girl Scout Handbook,” copyrighted in 1947, that tells how to earn all the badges from clerk to child care.

Milton said much has changed since she was a Girl Scout, but several of the traditions that she loves have stayed alive. One of her favorites is camping.

She volunteers as the master trainer for camping in the Atlanta area. Camping and being outdoors have always been her favorite part of Scouts.

Milton’s daughter, Linda Sautter, said her mother is known for her talent in outdoor cooking, especially turkey under a bucket.

“I thought that it would gain her fame on the ‘Good Morning America’ show or something,” she said. “Every turkey is delicious, not dried out, and cooks in an hour.”

The two shared time scouting for about three years when Milton was Sautter’s troop leader. Sautter was also in Scouts a few years before that.

Her sister wasn’t as interested in the outdoors and spent only a year in Girls Scouts, but Sautter said it’s hard for them to not appreciate the organization.

“Girl Scouts were always part of my life because [my mom] was so involved in them,” she said, citing her mom’s office, complete with green desk in the house in which the girls grew up.

Sautter said it’s her mother’s generosity that keeps her dedicated to the organization.

She can’t imagine her ever not being a part of it, though Milton said she has intentions to stop sometime.

“Eventually I’m going to get too old,” Milton said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do then.”