What a Girl Learns in Girl Scouts
Photo: Erika Lee Bigelow
Girl Scouts learn from the start about the value of tenacity and teamwork.
When my daughter started Kindergarten, a Girl Scout troop formed at her school and the query went out to parents: ”Would your daughter like to be in a Girl Scout troop?" For me, there was no other answer than "yes!" For six years, the girls met every month, while parents rotated leading the troop, providing the snacks and organizing the outings until the girls got old enough to do many things themselves. That’s when we really got to see the Girl Scout principle of girl-led in action! Girls led the songs, ran the activities and made decisions about where to go on trips. Girls directed our weekend excursions to local Girl Scout camps, navigated trail clean-ups, coordinated donations to food banks and came up with activities for visits to senior centers.
What I saw, as an observer and occasional participant during my daughter’s six years, reinforced what I had always felt when I was a Girl Scout many years ago. Everything I had learned about the importance of community, self-reliance, friendship and courage was staring me right in the face. I was so proud.
The gift of Girl Scouts is not perhaps succinctly explained. It’s the moment your shy daughter walks herself up to a stranger’s front door, knocks and then explains to them eloquently why they should support her non-profit organization and buy some cookies. It’s the moment your city daughter tells you she’s got this and proceeds to stack wood and kindling in textbook fashion to light a blazing fire on her very first try. It’s the moment your introvert daughter lets out a whoop of joy because together her troop met the goal they set at the beginning of the year. It’s the moment, when your confident daughter falls from the ropes course or trips in the track meet, or falters on the history exam, and she digs deep, lifts her chin and tries again.
Girl Scouts helps girls understand the value of teamwork, trust and trying new things, and gives them a safe place to get back up and keep going after setbacks and disappointments. That old adage, “If, at first, you don’t succeed, try, try and try again,” is the very essence of Girl Scouting. Girls come to understand that there is often much more to be learned from losses than wins and that those lessons make you stronger.
Consider Candace Loftus. For her final Girl Scout Gold Award project – the highest award you can earn in Girl Scouts – she enhanced a Snoqualmie Valley Trail rest area by installing a bench, hitching rail, information sign and watering post. So when she discovered vandals had torn her bench out of the ground, carved into it and partially burned it, leaving the rest spot empty and bare, it was quite a blow. “I was angry and upset,” she says. “I felt so disappointed.” But the second thing Candace felt was determination: “I wasn’t going to let the vandals win!”
The tenacity Candace displayed, which she developed during her years in Girl Scouts, is grit. It’s one of the top markers experts say can determine lifelong success. And isn’t that what we all want for our daughters?
If your girl can dream it, she can do it in Girl Scouts, whether she wants to build a rocket, camp under the stars, program a robot, climb a rock wall, improve her community or travel to India, And if she doesn’t succeed at first, she will be encouraged to keep on trying!
There is proof that Girl Scouts has had a powerful impact on girls’ lives. The Girl Scout Research Institute, which has interviewed thousands of girls over the years, has found that 96% of girls tried at least one new thing as a Girl Scout, and 78% of girls have improved their willingness to face their fears and take on new experiences. Ninety percent of parents say that because of Girl Scouts, their daughter is more confident. And, I bet, every parent of a Girl Scout also feels very proud, just like me. Watching my daughter grow in her resilience and faith in her own abilities has been one of the best things this grown-up Girl Scout has ever experienced!
Learn more about the ways in which Girl Scouting can change your girl’s life at http://www.girlscoutsww.org.