When someone hears the words “Girl Scout” the first thing that comes to mind nine times out of ten is “cookies.” When someone hears the words “Boy Scout” the first thing that comes to mind is “Eagle Scout.” I would bet that most people do not even know that the Boy Scouts sell popcorn. I have been a Girl Scout for thirteen years, and I love being one. What I do not love is the stigma associated with it and the lack of knowledge people have about our accomplishments.
When I was in middle school and even into high school I had to keep Girl Scouts on the down low. Girl Scouts was not cool. That was what everyone did in second grade when we worked on crafts and had fun sleepovers. No one was interested in the research I was doing for my different badges and accomplishments I was seeking.
I learned how to ski and how to avoid frost bite. I learned about theatre and different Broadway shows. I learned how to balance a checkbook and keep a budget. I learned how to stay fit and active. I learned how to cook and not be afraid to try new flavors. I learned about entrepreneurship and how to build business. I learned how to plan for my future and figure out what I wanted to do. But outside of my Thursday night meetings, I told no one what I learned.
Because Girl Scouts wasn’t cool. It wasn’t seen for the amazing program that it is. One that inspires young girls, teaches them to look for their dreams, and how to achieve them. Girl Scouts does build courage, confidence and character, but did not build enough in me to overcome the stigma then.
Somewhere around high school people stopped caring and actually thought it was somewhat cool that I was in Girl Scouts. It wasn’t like I walked around publicizing it, but when we reviewed resumes made in English class no one joked about it. I was excited because I could finally start sharing the amazing opportunities Girl Scouts had given me. That was only halfway true.
I remember being in a recent interview and someone asked me what I was most proud of on my resume and I responded with “My Girl Scout Gold Award.” If I could read their mind I know they were thinking, “I wonder how many boxes of cookies you have to sell for that” but they responded with “and what do you have to do for that?”
I explained my project, Mision Posible, which brought two truckloads full of clothing collected from local area churches to the impoverished Hispanic community in Siler City, North Carolina. Seeing the people come to the distribution day and pick out the clothing warmed my heart. Especially Maria, who had tears in her eyes as she tried a beautiful purple dress over her tattered clothing.
The problem is, no one knows what the Gold Award is. If I had been a boy and asked the same interview question and answered with “my Eagle Scout” people would immediately know what I was referring to and hold the respect that comes along with the prestige of the position. There are amazing girls who are working hard every day, building houses for bats, implementing domestic violence education in schools, starting mobile libraries and more who are not given the attention for their accomplishments they deserve.
Next time someone says “Girl Scouts,” think more about the amazing work of the organization and less about the tasty treats they are known for. Cookie season is only a few short months. Don’t forget to remember us by the ten other months we work to make the world a better place.