Behind every Girl Scout is a dedicated and passionate volunteer showing her the way. This month, we’ve asked two of our amazing troop leaders to share why they love Girl Scouts and how you can influence the next generation.
All of my best stories come from being a Girl Scout leader. I can entertain any audience at parties with tales from my three troops – the adventures of the girl who went to camp with no shoes, the girl who couldn’t wait to ride a horse until she actually had to get on a horse, and the one who never listens to instructions until she is literally inches from falling into a creek. But the most rewarding thing is hearing the girls tell stories.
Our Brownies are bright, peppy second and third graders, for whom everything is new and exciting. “We sold cookies last year, and we get to do it again?! That’s great!”
Meanwhile, our Cadettes are in junior high and they are constantly on the lookout for new experiences and interesting places. “Chinatown this weekend to learn to make dumplings. And then woodworking, and then chemistry day, and then Ronald McDonald House, and then …”
Our Seniors are high school freshmen and sophomores are busy defining their interests and looking for adventures that appeal to their growing sense of independence. Their desire to do service projects is pretty inspiring. When they’re all together, though, the giggling may lead you to believe you’re back with the Brownies.
Last year, I took five of the Cadettes along on a Brownie camping trip – girls from four different schools and three different grade levels. I thought the older girls would be helpful and maybe have some fun leading songs or crafts. At every turn, they astonished me.
From kitchen duty and nature hikes to games and badge work, I watched the Cadettes lead the way for the Brownies. And then they sat around a campfire, which they built, and laughed themselves silly telling stories and sharing memories from their years in Girl Scouts. That is when it occurred to me exactly what it means to be a Girl Scout volunteer.
We give girls the chance to lead, to learn, to make friends, and to know they have an advocate cheering them on along the way. Years from now, these girls are going to find themselves in a position to make a decision, make a change, or make a difference, and they’re going to do it with confidence because they were Girl Scouts and had positive adult role models show them how.
Become a Girl Scout volunteer and mentor young girls. You can lead a troop or share your skills and interests with a troop a few times a year. If you’re like me and you love spreadsheets, you can help out with the Girl Scout Cookie Program. Enjoy being outdoors? Volunteering at a Girl Scout camp may be the perfect option for you. There are flexible opportunities available for everyone. And I promise you’ll have fun along the way and plenty of stories to share.
Alisia (Ally) Eckert has been a Girl Scout troop leader since 2001. She also serves as a regional volunteer for the product team and has been awarded the Leader of the Year, Outstanding Volunteer, Woman of the Century, Honor and Appreciation pins from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Ally works as the senior planned giving officer at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation (formerly Children’s Memorial). She loves to travel, dabbles in photography, and is a rabid ice hockey fan.
Check back on Nov. 11 for part two of our volunteer guest blog series. To learn more about Girl Scouts or sign up as a volunteer, please visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.
Photos courtesy of Ally Eckert