I have been involved in scouting since I was six years old and now I am a lifelong member. Although I am now grateful for my long and rich history
1) Girl Scouts empowers women and upholds feminist ideals.
Earlier this year, Girl Scouts proved it is in fact #forEVERYgirl. The Girl Scouts of Western Washington refused a hundred thousand dollar donation because it came with a stipulation; none of the money could be used to support transgender girl scouts. The Girl Scouts of Western Washington declined the entire donation which was “almost a third of [their] entire financial assistance program for this year” and created an Indiegogo campaign seeking to raise the hundred thousand dollars they would lose. (I may or may not have teared up while watching the video posted on the Indiegogo page). Within just two days the campaign raised 250,000 dollars; two and a half times their original goal. I believe that this incident proved that the entire girl scouting community holds strong convictions that every girl belongs in scouting and the strength of feminism among the entire Girl Scout community.
2) Girl Scouts encourages diversity and global awareness
As a scout, the highlight of every year was attending World Thinking Day, an event which seeks to educate all Girl Scouts about all the different countries around the world where girl scouts are from. Before the event, every troop has to research the country which encourages global awareness and understanding among young women. At the event, each troop represents their assigned country through wearing traditional dress, serving traditional food, or playing games that represent that country in some way. World Thinking Day remains a really valued event within the community, proving that diversity is important to the local Girl Scouting Community. During and before the event, learning about different cultures and lifestyles through research, food tasting and clothing was always really exciting for me. I think the positive experiences I had before and during World Thinking Day helped inform my interest in global issues today. (In fact, I am pursuing a global studies certificate today).
3) Girl Scouts taught me about social issues.
Prerequisites for many awards are Journeys, which fall under the following themes; “It’s Your Planet- Love It!”, “It’s Your World- Change It!” and “It’s Your Story-Tell It!”. Journeys are programs that focus on how each individual girl scout can make positive change within each subject matter. “It’s Your Planet- Love It!” mostly focuses on agricultural and sustainability issues- covering topics like organic foods, local farming, and pollution. “It’s Your World- Change It!” focuses on leadership and advocacy, with an emphasis on strong women in history, problem solving, and community involvement. “It’s Your Story- Tell It!” has a focus on self-awareness and discovery through critical perspectives on media representation and healthy living. All of the Journeys encourage women at different stages in scouting or life to develop healthy, informed perspectives on important social and environmental issues in order to become better global citizens.
4) Girl Scouts encouraged leadership.
Almost all of my leadership experience before college was acquired through Girl Scouts. I was able to be a member of an award review board, lead younger peers in Journeys, and complete solo service projects through the Gold and Silver Awards. Not only were multiple leadership opportunities extended to me, I was taught about how to lead well through Journeys and other badge experiences. By encouraging leadership early on in my life, Girl Scouts helped strengthen my self-confidence and encouraged me to lead by taking on new challenges every day.
5) Girl Scouts taught me about values.
Every recitation of the Girl Scout Promise allowed me to take pause and reflect on my actions to evaluate whether or not I was acting morally. Girl Scouts increased my awareness of how my actions affected those around me -- even beyond my scope of acquaintances. Most importantly, Girl Scouts taught me to value community service. I truly believe being involved in service opportunities from a young age shaped my sense of empathy and self. I am sure those positive experiences are exactly why I continue to be involved in service projects on campus.
6) Girl Scouts gave me abundant opportunities to try new things.
Through Girl Scouts, I was able to travel, zip-line through the rainforest, meet local government officials, tour ice cream factories, and go to amusement parks. These are experiences allowed me to learn and discover so much about my community and the world. I think my personal love of new discovery and vehement disdain of routine partially comes from the constant novelty facilitated by Girl Scouts.
7) Girl Scouts forced me to meet new people.
Girl Scouts allowed me to interact with peers from different schools or age groups with whom I would have never had contact with if not for Girl Scouts. On service projects, I was introduced to a number of community members coming from different racial, ethnic, and/or socioeconomic backgrounds which encouraged me to be more tolerant. As an adult, I do not have as much fear when meeting unfamiliar people.
8) Girl Scouts gave me a lifelong community membership.
I am a proud member of a community full of strong, powerful women. Over the years, I have met so many leaders and girl scouts who have formed me as an individual and inspired me to achieve in so many ways. I feel as though Kari, a girl scout who supported the Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s Indiegogo campaign, summed up my feelings toward Girl Scouts best when she said, “Girl Scouts does not just build girls' courage, confidence and character, but also girls of compassion, tolerance, diversity, acceptance, sisterhood… all things you must have if you truly want to be a leader.”
So, if you are considering leaving Girl Scouts don’t do it, even if Girl Scouts doesn’t seem like the coolest thing to be at the moment. You won’t regret it. Staying a Girl Scout was one of the best decisions I have ever made.