98-year-old Berks County Girl Scout continues her mission and selling cookies

WERNERSVILLE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- At 98 years young, a Berks County woman continues a mission she started when she was just 10 years old.

Ronnie Backenstoe has become a familiar face at Troop 1814's annual Girl Scout cookie sale at Phoebe Berks Continuing Care Retirement Community in Wernersville.

She's been a loyal Girl Scout for nearly nine decades.

"You couldn't become a Girl Scout until you were 10 years old, so I joined in 1931," she said.

When she first started selling cookies, she says, there were only three varieties.

"We had the mints, we had the butter cookie and then we had a sandwich cookie. And we sold them for 15 cents a box," she said.

Back then, she says she was a mints gal, but now?

"Oh my favorite cookie is peanut butter! Ihave an order for myself," she said with a laugh.

Backenstoe served as a volunteer leader for years before being hired in 1957 to work as a professional girl scout at Camp Mosey Wood in the Poconos.

"Probably I'm the oldest Girl Scout living that's continued to really work with the scouting program," she said.

She now helps the next generation.

Troop Leader Barbara Allen Perelli says Ronnie's energy is non-stop, and her young fellow scouts say she makes them laugh.

"She's been such a good role model for the girls. Her energy is endless," said Allen-Perelli.

"No matter how hard the job is, make it fun," said Backenstoe.

"I met here her at Phoebe Berks when I was a Brownie," said Amber Holl, ambassador for Troop 1814. "She keeps inspiring others with her positive energy."

"I enjoyed everything about Girl Scouts and I've been able to hopefully to pass it on," said Backenstoe. "I think it's the best program in the world for girls. It teaches them how to live and I felt it taught me how to live."
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