My daughter is completing her first year in Girl Scouts. She joined last fall and we were immersed in a world of crafts, community service projects, camping, and cookie sales. I have fond memories of my own nine years as a child and teen in Girl Scouts learning life skills and sporting smart uniforms. Being an adult and watching my own daughter participate in Girl Scouts has challenged me to improve my meager sewing skills (all those earned badges!) and given me a different perspective and a new appreciation for the organization.
My daughter’s experience as a Brownie Girl Scout this past year was time well spent for several reasons.
1. Girl Scouts has exposed my daughter to a wide variety of experiences.
During just one year of Girl Scouts, my 9-year-old has…
- attended Red Cross swim lessons
- learned how to safely cook outdoors at a campfire
- learned first aid
- learned how to tie knots
- made her own sit-upon to use while camping
- gone geocaching
- learned about hiking safety and gone on a hike
- learned a basic hand stitch while making her own pillow
- made her own tulle skirt to wear to a sock hop dance
- sung Christmas carols at a senior apartment complex
- learned how to make a few of her own snacks
- learned how to make cake pops with a professional baker
- helped to rescue a bird caught in discarded fishing line at a park where her troop was picking up litter
- gotten up close with owls at a bird sanctuary
- learned how to interact with customers and count change during cookie-selling season.
And probably some other things I’ve forgotten. We’re also spending a few nights at Girl Scout camp this fall, where our troop will participate in archery, canoeing, and a star-gazing activity.
I’m convinced Girl Scouts – when it’s done well – makes girls well-rounded people who are in turn better prepared for life.
2. Girl Scouts connects my daughter to our broader community.
My daughter has been encouraged to think about people around her. Her troop collected items for the local food pantry and filled Easter eggs to donate to charitable organizations. At most district-wide scouting events, there is a collection for something whether it’s socks at the sock hop or hats and gloves at the Christmas caroling event. The Girl Scouts also organize our huge annual April Showers collection, where girls in all the troops in our region tie plastic bags on the doorknobs of every home on one weekend, encourage residents to fill the bags with toiletry items, and pick up the bags the following weekend and take them to food pantries.
3. Girl Scouts is a sisterhood with a rich history.
This starts at the local level and goes to the national level. During a recent Jamboree event in our district, I marveled at how Girl Scouts brings girls and women in my community together. My daughter’s troop visited outdoor stations where they learned about campfire safety and cooking, knot tying, crafts, camp songs, and hiking, and they made their own sit-upons, all under the coaching of an army of adult volunteers and Girl Scouts in middle school and high school. For some of the girls in my daughter’s troop who attend a school with a higher poverty level (about 60% of students qualify for free or reduced lunches), Girl Scouts may be their only opportunity to be around a campfire or go hiking.
On that day — and during many district events — it was inspiring to see so many women investing in the younger generation, including older women whose own daughters are grown but who remain involved in Girl Scouts because they believe in its mission.
From a national perspective, Girl Scouts has been around for more than 100 years, dating back to when founder Juliette Low started the organization. Talk to any group of women anywhere and many will say they were Girl Scouts like me. Many of our national leaders and celebrities were Girl Scouts, including Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, the late Carrie Fisher, Venus and Serena Williams, and “virtually every female astronaut who has flown in space.” In fact, the Girl Scouts CEO, Sylvia Acevedo, is a rocket scientist who has worked for NASA. Because Girl Scouts is all about providing girls with opportunities, there’s even a newly founded troop for girls living in a homeless shelter in New York City.
I admit Girl Scouts can be a widely variable experience, and it’s not always perfect. The troop I participated in during my childhood was fine but not as active as my daughter’s troop. It all depends on the quality of your troop leaders, neighborhood leaders, and district leaders (who are all unpaid volunteers). My family lucked out because we happen to live in a district that currently has a large number of active, committed volunteers. I hope it stays that way at least until my daughters get through school.
Registration time for the next year is upon us, and we will be sticking with scouting. My youngest daughter is entering kindergarten and may join a troop, and my older daughter and I are re-upping our memberships. Being an adult member allows me to volunteer with my daughter’s troop, and I’ve been drafted as a co-leader, which I don’t mind. I feel like I’m doing something meaningful when I help with projects or events. Also, the cost to participate in Girl Scouts is reasonable compared to other popular extracurriculars like dance, team sports, or gymnastics. That alone is a lifesaver for our family budget.
For us, time spent with Girl Scouts is time well spent. And thank goodness a lot of the badges are iron-ons these days, so we can spend more time camping and less time sewing badly.
Photo credit: https://cruxnow.com
Like what you just read? Let’s connect on social media, too:
Tags: Girl Scouts