I Was a Girl Scout for 13 Years. It Saved My Life.
For most people, a box of Girl Scout cookies is just a nostalgic sweet treat. But for me, it’s a representation of 13 long years of being a Girl Scout — an experience I carry with me every day of my life. I joined a troop when I was just in Kindergarten and stayed with the organization long enough to earn my Girl Scout Gold Award — the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive. The life skills I learned through these experiences have helped me become the adult that I am today. Here are five life skills I learned from my years as a Girl Scout.
1The Importance of Giving Back
When I was a young Girl Scout, I did basic activities like selling cookies and going camping. But, as I grew up with my troop, I became more involved in volunteer work. Through the organization, I volunteered at domestic violence shelters, animal rescues, helped rebuild homes, and did art projects with adults who lived with disabilities. I enjoyed helping others and learning about perspectives and experiences different from my own. While I was raised in a stable household with many opportunities to succeed, those I helped were often from marginalized communities. Working with them taught me empathy and inspired me to apply my power of doing good in my adult life. Today, I am a case manager where I provide housing support for individuals who formerly experienced homelessness.
2To Stay True to Myself
Being so dedicated to the Girl Scouts as a child sometimes felt like it wasn’t the “cool” thing to do. But I never gave up on my goals as a Girl Scout, despite feeling like my peers didn’t always quite understand my passions. I was able to stay true to myself and stayed with the organization until the end of my Girl Scout journey. I loved every second of it, even when I had to stand outside in the rain selling cookies. In my life now, I’m always true to who I am. I’m the only me out there after all. I’m not shy to state my opinion, stand up for what’s right, and not be afraid to wear bright colors.
3The Importance of Friendship
As a troop, we did many volunteering projects together, budgeted to go on trips as a unit, and even toured colleges. I was able to see my friends and fellow troop members at meetings every Sunday. We discussed future events we wanted to participate in, made cards for troops overseas, and promoted Girl Scouts for young ones. Through the smiles shared and our teamwork, I made lifelong friends. Having such strong, lasting friendships has served me well into my adulthood. I’ve been able to lean on and maintain those relationships and always have someone to listen to me and be there for others who need an ear. Through the difficult times and unexpected moments, having the support of my friends has been such an important asset.
4To Be a Planner
The most memorable part of being a Girl Scout was when a few of my fellow troop members and I went to Italy. Through a process of budgeting, researching places to visit, hotels/hostels, and restaurants, we were able to make the trip overseas. We visited Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Venice. We enjoyed pasta by moonlight and sometimes gelato three times a day. The trip taught me how to budget, adapt to different cultures, navigate train schedules, and to be flexible when things don’t go the way I plan. I loved that trip and am so grateful I was able to experience it with my Girl Scout family.
5The Importance of Community
The most important thing I learned from my Gold Award project was the importance of community. For my project, I assisted children with terminal diseases by creating “surgery dolls” to give to them before they went in for surgery. Their doctor would write on the doll where the surgery would happen, so when the children woke up, they could feel as though they went through the surgery with their doll. This helped provide the kids with a sense of comfort and safety.
Through the experience of spearheading this project, I realized that none of us can make it alone and that it’s okay not to know everything right away. It’s okay if you don’t have all the resources yet. We are better together.
The Bottom Line
I graduated high school 15 years ago and am still completely grateful for all I learned. Without the experience of helping others with the support of the Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The acceptance of knowing that most people don’t have the same advantages as me has been extremely eye-opening. I have come to learn that we can’t make it alone and that we’re all connected. By remaining humble and kind, the world can change with our influence. We all deserve a smile and sometimes, a Thin Mint.