LEWISTOWN - Sitting cross-legged in a circle on the floor, a group of girls from preschool to high school age giggle and clap as they sing, "Give me oil for my board, I'll be surfin' for the Lord."
Some voices whisper meek and low, others are loud and out-of-tune, or sweet and melodic; but together, the chorus of young voices sounds pleasant and joyous.
Through singing, arts and crafts, Bible memorization and other activities, the Explorer Girls group leaders help the girls develop the unique gifts and abilities that God has given them.
The Explorer Girls group meets from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursdays from September to May at the St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 120 N. Main St., Lewistown. The Lewistown group is open to girls ages 4 through high school.
Similar to Pioneer Girls or Girl Scouts, Explorer Girls encourages the girls to pursue goals through biblically-based activities, Scripture memorization and more. At the end of the year, the girls receive awards for the work that they accomplished, explains Nikki Doverspike, one of the group leaders who started the Lewistown chapter.
Doverspike, who has been involved in Explorer Girls for 18 years, brought her daughter Kristen up in the club.
Now 16, Kristen helps lead the younger Explorer Girls through lessons, crafts, songs and more.
"It's lots of fun, especially for the little ones," she says. "You get to make good friends. I love going to (Explorer Girls) camp every summer. You get really close to the girls who go there, though you only see them once a year."
The teen also describes Explorer Girls as an outreach to the unchurched because it gives girls who do not attend church the chance to learn about God.
Malarie Yoder, one of the older Explorer Girls, says she likes the club because activities involve more than just sitting and listening.
"I like getting another day to hang out with friends and learn about God," Yoder said.
For high school senior April Montgomery, Explorer Girls has provided her with an opportunity to gain experience in educating and leading young children.
Montgomery, who plans to become an elementary school teacher, said: "Volunteering is good practice, ... a good start learning to work with little kids. It's just a lot of fun."
Occasionally, special events organized by the leaders also become a learning experience for the girls.
On Feb. 17, the women of St. John's Lutheran hosted a tea party for the Explorer Girls.
Before the event, the leaders taught the girls several lessons about etiquette and manners: where to put their napkins, how to properly pass food, Nikki Doverspike says. On the night of the tea, the girls dressed up and sat with ladies from the church who served them scones and different types of tea, she says.
Other special events have included mother-daughter night, a fall retreat, summer camp, roller skating, visits to the Ice Festival and more.
Each group is led by women carefully chosen to spend time with the girls, listen to them and become a positive influence in their lives, according to a brochure about the group.
For more information about the Lewistown group, visit eglewistown.org or explorergirls.org.