When a friend and I began a Girl Scout troop for our daughters, I said I’d help out until fifth grade. That was at the start of first grade, and despite all the work, the past few years have gone by fast. Technically next year will be my last as a co-leader, and I plan on sticking with that, but sometimes I relent. It’s a lot of work, more than parents who aren’t leaders see. There’s planning, badge progress monitoring, tons of paperwork, cookie sales, camping, and more, including a lot of coordinating with parents and often hand holding that is a drain. It’s easy to be a pest to a leader or ignore emails when you aren’t aware of all of the effort that goes into making Girl Scouts a great experience for your daughter. We have 14 girls in our troop, ranging three grades, which can be a challenge. However, my Grinchy heart grows three sizes when I see the girls having fun. They enjoy the time together as a troop and are eager to do more activities – even cookie sales – which makes the work worth it.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout organization, which, at its start, taught homemaking skills, but it always pushed beyond that too. Citizenry and professional skills were taught, making it pretty forward thinking for the time. Now Girl Scouts is focused on closing the ambition gap in science and technology, by aiding girls in getting interested in those fields and helping them follow through to a career, through mentorship, if desired.
Maybe this is only in the Bay Area, but when people ask me about Girl Scouts, it’s always asked with a slightly tilted head or scrunched face. People hear a lot of negatives about scouting, and unfortunately this clouds their perception of Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts don’t discriminate. Girl Scouts are about sisterhood, and supporting each other, regardless of color, class, religious belief or sexual orientation. God is in the Girl Scout Promise, but the word can be omitted or changed, based on personal belief. Around here, the sexual orientation concern is what people seem to be asking about the most. Girl Scouts allow transgender girls to participate, which, while controversial to some, is a source of pride around here. All girls are welcome, regardless of what is going on in their lives, even if they cannot afford a vest or dues.
Each year during our cookie booth sales, at least one person will come up to us to say that they were a Girl Scout or that their daughter was, as they share great memories, and every single year, the most sentimental is always a man, who will talk about his daughter’s experience. This year a proud dad bragged about how his daughter was a scholar overseas, and he told the girls of my troop that it was the confidence and leadership skills she learned in Girl Scouts that helped her grow into the person she is today. His eyes got misty as he spoke. It’s those moments that make all the work seem like nothing.