Girl Scouts was a huge part of my childhood. I joined as a Brownie in second grade and stayed with my troop for 10 years until I was a senior in high school. Having 2 brothers at home and no sisters, my fellow scouts really became my sisters, and Troop 270 became my home away from home.
Decades later, I started a Daisy Girl Scout Troop for my daughter and her classmates during their kindergarten year. The girls are now in second grade, the same age I was when my Girl Scout journey began, and our troop is 22 members strong. Being a troop leader (in addition to being a third-grade teacher) is truly a labor of love, and I find joy in reliving scouts as my own experiences come full circle.
Girl Scouting is an adventure. There are endless opportunities for girls of all ages, backgrounds, and interests– it’s so much more than a sorority where you sell cookies and trade secrets. Read on for reasons why you should consider getting involved.
Girl Scouts is a place without expectations. You can earn dozens of badges or none; sell hundreds of cookies, or not sign up to sell any. Girl Scout troops are communities where girls can truly be girls, away from the pressures and distractions that co-ed groups sometimes involve. The goal is to learn new skills and enjoy new experiences through the togetherness and support that a team provides. At the same time, there are many opportunities for individual growth (earning badges, awards, or selling cookies on your own, for example).
Girl-led activities are both encouraged and inspired. Some of the most popular activities my current troop has taken part in are workshops where we teamed up with older girls. At our last meeting, female high school engineering students led STEM-inspired stations where the Brownies designed paper airplanes, cars, and towers with springs. Another time, 5th graders ran Valentines-themed centers and a sun-safety workshop for our troop. The power of looking up to older girls and women simply can’t be underestimated.
Caregiving and Community
While growing up as a Girl Scout, I counted on my troop leaders as grown-up caregivers I could trust. My best friend’s mother and my ninth-grade geometry teacher were our troop leaders. They maintained rules and expectations, kept us safe when away from home, but also gave us space to be independent and make (age-appropriate) decisions on our own. As the leader of my daughter’s troop, I continue to be guided by their leadership as our troop charts a path of our own.
Our troop’s supportive community– sisterhood for the girls, friendship for the parents– is truly a blessing in these trying times. Even though my daughter and her fellow scouts have been separated by the challenges of distance learning and pods at school, they share a bond that is apparent whenever we are able to come together as a troop.
Legacy and Diversity
Founder Juliette Gordon Low started the Girl Scouts in 1912 before women could legally vote in the United States. Her goal was to create an organization that would foster courage, confidence, and character in girls as they grew up and went out into the world.
109 years later, Girl Scouts is bigger than ever, as an international organization, with 2.5 million current members—more than 1.7 million girls and 750,000 adults. There’s membership in 92 countries and over 50 million alums. When your daughter joins Girl Scouts, she becomes part of a powerful legacy that famous world leaders and role models such as Queen Elizabeth II, Hillary Clinton, Venus Williams, Sally Ride, Condoleeza Rice, Tammy Duckworth, and Taylor Swift were once part of.
The global, inclusive approach to Girl Scouting is apparent in the Girl Scout law (“I will… make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout”) and in the many badges and activities that embrace different cultures, abilities, and beliefs.
Outdoors and STEM
Girl Scouts gets girls outside. Badge activities at all age levels involve camping, hiking, conservation, and outdoor sports. Many experiences involve environmental awareness and a science-based approach to appreciating the world around us. As kindergartners, my troop picked up litter in the block around our school building one day after we learned about the harmful effects of pollution. As second graders, we went canoeing with Loop Nola and explored the Couterie Forest in City Park, learning about native plants and animals along the way.
At every age level, there are STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) experiences for girls. In my current troop, girls have had the opportunity to build and design cars from found materials; create and build board games; learn about animal care and safety. We hope to explore robotics and coding soon.
Cookies and Confidence
Girl Scout cookies are a small part of Girl Scouting, even though they’re the part most of us (and our stomachs) think of. The Girl Scout Cookie Program is a girl-led experience where girls create goals for themselves and the troop and use funds for future troop experiences and charitable causes. My troop used some of our cookie money to sponsor a family in need during the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans (CCANO) holiday gift-giving drive last Christmas, for example. Selling cookies requires girls to speak up– whether it’s asking a neighbor if they want to buy Thin Mints, making change at a cookie stand, or budgeting how to spend cookie funds. It also gives them an early experience with financial literacy and the business world.
Girl Scout juniors, cadettes, seniors, and ambassadors (fourth grade and up) can work individually or together to earn the Bronze, Silver, and/or Gold awards. These prestigious awards focus on improving communities for the better, through positive change. Gold Award Scholarships are offered at many universities around the country.
For younger girls, there are safety and entrepreneurship awards, as well as the bridging patches earned from moving up to each new level. Every badge earned is its own award– whether it’s about bugs, outdoor art, ecology, dancing, or budgeting. My daughter loves to look at her current and old uniforms and recall how she earned each badge, and what she’d like to achieve next.
How to Join or Start a Troop
Girl Scouts Louisiana East (GSLE) is the Council for the New Orleans area. To join Girl Scouts, find a troop, or learn more about starting your own, start here.
Are you a former Girl Scout, current troop leader, or is your daughter currently involved? If so, what’s your favorite thing about Girl Scouting?