When I think strong, smart, and bold I think Girl Scouts. Wait, what Girl Scouts? Take it from me, I’ve been a Girl Scout for 17 years. I know to many of you it may come as a shock that membership in this organization doesn’t end at puberty and that we aren’t all cute little 8-year-olds selling cookies. While certainly that’s one scouting experience (and a valuable one to boot), it wasn’t my scouting experience. That’s why on Girl Scouts 100th anniversary I’d like to tell you a little bit about mine. Juliette Gordon-Low, eat your heart out.
- I was never one of those cute little 8 year olds (aka Brownies) selling cookies. I joined in 4th grade as a Junior. Luckily you’re never too old to become a Girl Scout.
- Both my parents were also registered Girl Scouts. My Dad loved to boast about it to strangers and see the quizzical looks on their faces.
- Typical Junior High Conversation – Me: “I’m a Girl Scout.” Random Peer: “Still? That’s lame.” Me: *sighs, tries to keep chin up*
- Typical High School Conversation – Me: “I’m a Girl Scout.” Random Peer: “Sweet, that means you sell cookies right? OMG I love Thin Mints, totes put me down for a box! Say what else do you guys do?” Me: “Well, my troop is currently planning a camp-out for the 200 younger girls in our service unit, we’re getting ready to go to GAM which is a nautical skills competition for Senior scouts where you camp on the beach and compete in skills like sailing and rowing, we just attended a career exploration event where we got to hear from a real FBI agent and a Hollywood screenwriter, oh, and we’re trying to sell enough cookies so that we can go on a cruise to Mexico in two years.” Random Peer: “S&%t I had no idea you could do that stuff! Man, I wish I was a Girl Scout.” Me: *smiles proudly*
- I am part of the 1%. No, not that 1%, the 1% of girls nationwide that earn the Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts. Along with a host of prerequisites, the Gold Award is a project that not only demonstrates leadership, but provides a lasting benefit to the community at large. For my project I ran a summer theater workshop for kids at a local Boys and Girls Club. Nothing went according to plan, which frankly was the best lesson you can learn at 17. Be prepared, but be ready to improvise.
- Every 3 years Girl Scouts hosts a National Convention where the organization evaluates where it has been and where it should go next. I was one of two girls who got to represent my council as a voting delegate at the 2002 National Convention. I voted on policies that would shape the organization for years to come. Girl Scouts really is an organization by girls for girls.
- When I graduated high school, I took advantage of a great deal that made me a lifetime member. Yup, I’m a card-carrying Girl Scout for life.
- I get the uncontrollable urge to go camping every spring, right around when we’d have our annual service unit camp-out. Old habits really do die hard.
- Lastly, at 27 I’m still having new scouting experiences. As an adult, I’ve volunteered to sit on committees that review and approve Gold Award proposals. It’s neat to be on the other side of the process, and incredibly inspiring to see enthusiastic teens making the world a better place.
It’s not just a motto. Girl Scouts really is where girls grow strong. I know because thankfully I was one of those girls. I was, and will always be, a Girl Scout.