When I was in first grade, someone came in to speak to my class about Girl Scouts. I don’t remember who they were or what they said, but they sent home forms and I told my parents I wanted to join. My parents signed me up and it became one of the most impactful things in my life. Girl Scouts was an incredible experience and it provided me with some amazing opportunities, but it wasn’t always a walk in the park. Here are three things I think of when I remember my scouting experience.
Going for Gold
I’m one of the few people who make it all the way through Girl Scouts. I started as a Brownie and traveled through the ranks until I became an Ambassador. The main reason I stayed was that I wanted to get my Gold Award, the equivalent of the Eagle Scout Award. When I earned my Gold Award the basic requirements were:
- The Girl Scout is the leader of the project. She may have a team of advisors and people helping with the project, but she cannot work with another Girl Scout as an equal partner in the project.
- The Girl Scout must complete at least 100 service hours for the project.
- The project must have a sustainable, lasting impact on the Girl Scout’s community at a local, national, and/or global level.
My project, starting a book club for young middle school students, took me years to complete. I learned a lot about dedication, flexibility, patience, teamwork, and how amazing my mother is. To read more about my Gold Award experience, read the blog post I wrote about it.
Making It to the End
Between seventh and eighth grades, my troop dropped from about ten girls to three. There were tons of other extracurricular activities pulling for our attention and my Council wasn’t great about creating incentives for older girls to stay involved. They focused a lot on Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors in everything from the Council events to the rewards for selling cookies. The only people who stayed were those intending to get the upper-level awards.
The age at which most girls drop was the age when I felt we needed the lessons of Girl Scouts most. Late middle school through high school was a time when sisterhood, courage, confidence, and character were extremely important but were no longer in targeted experiences, specifically for girls, created by formal organizations.
Exploring the World
The only experience that rivals achieving my Gold Award as my favorite Girl Scout memory is going to Costa Rica. My Council teamed up with EF Tours to plana Council-wide trip to Europe. By this point, there were only three girls in my troop and we had some money saved up from selling cookies and other fundraisers, but the trip was still more expensive than any of us could afford. So, my troop investigated and found the company offered trips within our budget.
We—my troop members, our leader (my mom), and I—got to hike through rainforests, zip line and horseback ride in the mountains, swim in the ocean, and experience the food and culture of people from a different country. I never would have done those things without Girl Scouts. We saved up for years, doing tons of fundraising, to go on the trip and it was worth every second and every penny.