Growing Girls – and Women – in the Greenhouse of Girl Scouts
Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout pretty much describes Rhonda Boston. At 7 years old, she joined her local troop in Clinton Hill, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Now, she leads a large and vibrant Girl Scout community in that very same neighborhood.
“The first thing I did was make a drawstring bag to carry my handbook in,” she tells CircleAround. “I still have that handbook!” She remembers her Girl Scouting adventures fondly: seeing The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, visiting Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, and taking part in community service events. When Boston aged out of the program, however, she didn’t say goodbye to the organization. She came back to lead a Girl Scout troop in the neighborhood she grew up in, and 30 years later, she is still leading new generations of Girl Scouts in Brooklyn. Today, she helps rally new recruits in her community and mentors volunteers who want to stay active in the Girl Scout organization.
“I am always recruiting,” Boston says. “I am always trying to be visible because a lot of people for a while didn't know there were still Girl Scouts in our community. I feel like it takes a village. I like to have that hour a week to be with the girls and let the parents just sit back and relax …. The girls learn a little bit of individuality, create a support system with each other for when parents and adults aren't around. I want to teach them to be able to get along and support each other.”
She ensures the girls in her troops experience life outside of their community. Each year, the girls go on a big overnight trip to fun destinations such as Niagara Falls, Disney World, Atlanta, and Colonial Williamsburg. The girls take pride in wearing their uniforms a few times during these trips to represent their hard work and how far they’ve come.
As a Girl Scout veteran, Boston has also learned to adapt and change as the program evolves. For example, the pandemic prompted her to figure out how to translate an in-person, tight-knit community feeling to an online video conferencing platform. She also learned that there are ways others can make the Girl Scout experience interesting, and that no commitment is ever too small. “You can volunteer every other week instead of every week,” she suggests. “Or join a troop and maybe just once a month do something special with those girls, prepare one thing for one activity with them just to give back.
“It makes you feel so good,” she says, “And so motivated, because years later, you will see some of these girls, and they'll remember you for that little bit that you gave of your time and your talent. You don't have to be special; just be yourself and give of yourself and your time.”
Today, Boston is incredibly grateful to still be part of a worldwide program that helps empower girls and young women. “When I was a girl, I didn't know the importance of being a part of a movement that had been around since 1912,” she tells CircleAround. “As an adult, and getting to celebrate the 85th, the 90th, the 95th, and the 100th anniversaries, to look at these pictures and to think back about the times that Girl Scouts have gone through … I feel so humbled that I am a part of it.”
The Bottom Line
Boston is continuing to be a leader in her community, guiding the way for others to continue their Girl Scout journey long after they age out of being in a troop themselves. To her knowledge, at least 20,000 girls have come through her local troop center. “We can do anything,” she proudly states. “We can get that message out forever. This is long-lasting. I see the future can be everything that we never even thought about. It’s going to be amazing.”
Read more about the trailblazing women who dared to make changes in their communities.