Monday, August 25, 2014
Yes, I AM a Girl Scout... and a volunteer
Volunteering is becoming a lost art. This is a bold statement to someone who is constantly volunteering their time for various reasons and organizations. Those who volunteer though, can tell you that we are all always in need of more volunteers. We are all “short staffed.”
I won’t lie, being a Girl Scout volunteer is not easy. Yet every year, I return, and ready for more. All of the girls I work with want to be there, and that is one of the many reasons why I return. They are eager to learn and have fun. Sometimes, they are a group of crazy kids running around you, and other times they are very quiet listeners who are fixated on your every word.
Ok, I know you’re all thinking, “this woman is nuts! Why on earth would she give up her time for a bunch of kids?” My reasoning is very simple. The first is to pay it forward- many years ago I had an amazing Girl Scout leader, and I feel the need to pass on everything she taught me (and she taught me a lot!). My second reason is a little selfish- to spend more time with my daughters. My last reason is one I owe to my parents for instilling upon me a sense of community- to give to those around me to better our area.
I started out as a Girl Scout volunteer during my time in college, many years ago. The first troop that I led was one that forever changed my life. It was a troop with nine young women who were all from severely impoverished families. It never stopped them from attending meetings, and it never stopped them from being amazing people. Before I graduated and handed the troop over to a trusted friend, we took a big trip to New York City. Those girls had earned every single penny through Girl Scout fundraisers (mainly our precious cookies). Their parents had to pay nothing for the trip- not a single dime. That trip was one they were all so very grateful for, because none of them had ever been outside of their home state.
Here I am, years later, a troop leader to my oldest daughter’s troop. Even though they are all equally wonderful, each scout has touched me on a different level because they are all my daughter’s friends. I have watched the shy girls come out of their shells, the “girly” ones try messy and dirty things, and I have watched all of them explore the world around them. They constantly challenge me. Every year, they spend their last meeting planning for the following year. I recently sat down to put their plan into a schedule and I realized that I have some reading to do if I plan on being their own personal expert on canoeing, botany and first aid (just to name a few). Every year, they come up with things that I need to learn a little bit about, but I enjoy it because I know they want to learn about all of these things.
Girl Scouting doesn’t stop once you leave high school though, and I am living proof of this. Since becoming an adult volunteer, I have literally traveled the world in the name of Scouting. Two years ago, I was afforded the opportunity to travel to Chicago to represent our area in Girl’s World Forum. The forum had women from over 90 countries in attendance. My own roommate was from Ireland! I have been presented with opportunities to travel to Germany, Hong Kong, Rwanda, Mexico and more. I was offered these chances because I am a member of the GLO pool- Global Leadership Opportunities. This is a Girl Scout sponsored thing, but you have to be an adult Girl Scout member to be in it. It gives me the chance to represent our country in the name of Girl Scouting, all over!
I love everything that Girl Scouts stands for. I learned how to start a fire, change the oil in my car and I even learned how to climb a mountain, all because of Girl Scouts. I can proudly say that I am a debt free adult because I learned how to make and stick to a budget while my former Girl Scout troop planned a massive overseas trip. Every time someone asks me if we just sell cookies, I laugh a little, but it’s because I know how important the Girl Scout program is. The Girl Scout leadership experience, instills courage, confidence and character. We do strive to, “make the world a better place,” but in the process, we learn invaluable skills and life lessons, and we always manage to make amazing friends along the way.
I can’t imagine my life not being a Girl Scout volunteer. It just doesn’t seem right to me. In the end, what truly makes it worth my time is when the girl who was standing in the corner, upset, decides to join in on the activity, and later on tells you, “thank you!”