Me? I’m elbow deep in a box of Thin Mints as I write this, but seeing as it’s officially Girl Scout Week, I have no remorse.
Girl Scout Week began March 6 and ends on March 12, which is the 104th anniversary of the first Girl Scout troop to ever register in the United States. For me, Girl Scouts is about a lot more than just cookies. It was a decade of my life.
I became a Brownie in first grade; as a shy, quiet kid I quickly found friends in my fellow scouts and mentors in my leaders. Over the years I forged friendships that would get me through the drama of middle school, and the tough times in high school. Our troop always stuck together, even as the group whittled down to just a few of us in high school. After all, it wasn’t “cool” to be a Girl Scout. But it turned out to be pretty cool for those of us who chose to stick it out for the long haul.
When I wasn’t making new friends or trying something new, I was connecting with my mother. My mom consistently assisted my troop, drove us around, and helped out in any way she could. Some kids find it embarrassing to have their mom “hanging out” with them, or at their group sleepovers, but my mom was always the cool and fun one at Girl Scout events. Plus, she always made everyone’s favorite veggie dip. Some of my most treasured Girl Scout memories involve my mother.
After putting in countless hours of volunteer work and community service, together the troop earned our Silver Award, the second highest award in Girl Scouts. (For those familiar with Boy Scouts, it’s essentially one step below the Eagle Scout ranking; the gold award is similar to being an Eagle Scout.) We gave back to our community and in return, we matured, developed and learned more about ourselves.
We learned about a variety of topics: cooking, camping, tying knots, leadership, morals, first aid and more. We became mentors to girls younger than we were. We earned badges for our vests and badges in the study of the real world.
When it came time to apply for college and scholarships, our tenure with the scouts gave us an incredible edge over others. We put in the time and effort, and it not only showed on college applications and job resumes, but it showed in our passion and work ethic. Girl Scouts prepared me for the real world.
When you receive your box of cookies from your local scout, or you buy a box from the group sitting outside Walmart, take a minute to ask the girls where the money goes. Ask them what outings they have planned this year. Encourage them to stick with scouting, even when it’s not the “cool thing” to do any more. Being a part of the Girl Scouts is life changing; it surely changed mine.