While many people only see Girl Scouts as “cute little girls” who go door to door selling cookies, there is so much more happening. We are pioneers for our communities, advocates for all girls, adventure seekers, and so much more, and Girl Scouts wouldn’t have these opportunities without the help of our troop leaders! Troop leaders like you dedicate your time, home, and sometimes sanity, putting your all into helping your troop. Often, I feel that your generous help goes unnoticed. As a Girl Scout alum in her second year of college, and reflecting back on my experiences, I can recognize now just how much my troop leaders influenced my life.
So, here’s an open letter to all Girl Scout troop leaders:
I remember walking into the room and receiving a blue sweatshirt on my first day of being a Girl Scout Daisy. I had just moved to this small town and knew nobody. I quickly joined in with all of the girls and became excited to be a part of a wonderful group. My troop leaders were the first to greet and welcome me with open arms and help me to feel like I was a part of the troop. They treated me as if they had known me forever.
Our troop leaders taught us the Girl Scout Promise and Law and then we all sat down and got to know each other. Throughout my time as a Daisy, I earned my eleven Daisy petals—each representing one part of the Girl Scout Law—and my Financial Literacy leaves. With the help of the troop leaders, they made this possible. They ran the meetings, helped with earning money for the troop, taught us how to accomplish our goals, and be comfortable with who we were.
My Daisy troop leaders taught me how to become a friend to every Girl Scout and allowed me to take my first steps into womanhood. When my time as a Daisy was over, I walked across the bridge and became a Brownie. I received my brown vest and was able to earn badges. My troop leaders helped me learn basic first aid skills, empowered me to teach self-defense with my Taekwondo instructor, and visited different museums. We attended Girl Scout camp, participated in team building exercises, and learned to trust one another. I was able to find myself learning how to become a brave leader at this time. Our troop leaders were our role models! While we were learning all of these different skills and simply had to show up for meetings, they were the powerful force behind it all: Communicating, planning, and encouraging us to take the lead where we could. The leaders spent countless hours driving us around, chaperoning us at overnights, and supervising us while we attended many different events.
In the next step of my Girl Scout journey, I became a Junior. Our bright green uniform showed from miles away! At this time, I began to work toward my Bronze Award. While these 20 hours seemed like an eternity, it helped me get out into our community and my troop leaders taught me how I—a young girl—could make a change in the world. As we became more and more independent, our troop leaders were able to sit back and relax, even if it was only for a little bit.
By earning badges and helping others through that process, I was able to learn essential life skills such as owning a business or simply planting a garden. While we started to take control and make decisions throughout meetings and what we wanted to learn, our troop leaders were always walking with us and watching us grow. Even with all of this growth, it was at this time when my troop began to dwindle and those who truly wanted to be in it continued on.
Moving on to Cadette Girl Scouting and a khaki vest, my next journey, involved earning badges that helped teach skills applicable to real-world jobs. I gained skills such as cooking, public speaking, and screenwriting. At this point, the troop leaders helped immensely in my growth to becoming a woman. I could begin to work toward my Silver Award, which required 50 hours. Troop leaders would continue to allow us to think about what we should do and let us start to make adult, real-world decisions. They let us take control of our project and while they would help guide us when we would get stuck, they would challenge us to work together and think critically. As I became more invested in school, often times Girl Scouts would be pushed to the side. My time as a Girl Scout decreased, but I continued on with my shrinking troop. Even though there were days where I wanted to quit altogether, the troop leaders were always right there and encouraging me to be my best.
My last few years as a Girl Scout gave me the knowledge to know that women are strong and powerful leaders. Badges were often earned with the minimal help of any troop leader and girls were given the freedom to communicate with each other and lead meetings and events. Troop leaders gave us the opportunity to lead younger troops and become role models to them like they were to us. The Gold Award, the highest award for Girl Scouts, requires 80 hours of work, all of which the troop leaders got to watch what they have taught us to be put into context.
At this stage, the girls were 100 percent in charge of brainstorming, fundraising, and planning a way to help the community for many years to come. Troop leaders told me that I could communicate with our town’s businesses and mayor and said that I had earned my way and have grown in strength and leadership and was ready to take on the world.
Troop leaders not only provided a step-by-step approach to learning essential life skills, but they gave me adventure, friendships, role models, and so many different memories. On top of all of this learning, I was able to travel to different states, parks, museums, and places that I probably never would have visited if it weren’t for them. My troop leaders gave me so much more: They gave me the world, whether they realized it or not. They shaped me into the woman I have become today. For that, I just want to say thank you because I know I haven’t said it enough.
Paige Wormer – Paige was a River Valleys Girl Scout starting as a Daisy all the way up to a Senior. She is currently a sophomore at Gustavus Adolphus College majoring in general management and minoring in both Spanish and film and media studies. Paige loves to travel and be outdoors. In her spare time, she likes to practice her flute, take pictures, paint, or do anything that involves being creative. When she graduates from college, she hopes to find a job somewhere in the film industry or designing graphics for a company. Currently, she is a personal care attendant for her younger brother and writes for the Gustavus Odyssey. One day, she hopes to be able to travel the world and live one big adventure.