Of course it’s always important to remember to take a step back and really think about your actions before acting on them and your words before you say them. Kaitlyn Kropp knows what it’s like to need a minute to cool down. “I have mood swings and so sometimes I’d feel overwhelmed and just kind of lose it,” she says. “It was hard on me, and I know it was hard for other people, too. I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, though, and I wanted to not have those problems. I didn’t like that my feelings of sadness or fear could take over like that.”
So, like a true leader, this 17-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador set out to problem solve and help herself and other kids facing similar problems. And it turns out many teens are living with these types of issues. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, three out of every fifty teens aged 13-18 are grappling with severe anxiety disorder.
“We used to have something called a ‘processing room’ at school, where kids could go and talk through their feelings with a teacher or a counselor, or write them down. But that’s not what everyone needs—in fact, if you’re freaking out, having to talk or to write something that makes sense can add even more pressure. That was the case with me, and I knew a few other kids who felt the same,” Kaitlyn says. “All I really wanted was an enclosed space where I could be by myself and chill for a few minutes so I could calm down and get back to my school work without having a bad incident.”
Last week, I participated in what will surely be remembered as one of the highlights of my summer–camping with the Girl Scouts! In it’s tenth year, Camp CEO is a premier leadership camp for teen girls and high-level professionals held at Camp Butternut Springs in Valparaiso, Indiana.
I was invited to attend as one of the 25 female “CEOs” along with 40 high-achieving Girl Scouts selected from the Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana council who applied and wrote essays to participate. I had not been camping since my days as a leader with my daughter’s troop 20 years ago, and it was incredible fun to be hiking, swimming, and singing songs around the campfire once again.
In addition to these traditional camp activities, what made Camp CEO so special was the opportunity to mentor the girls one-on-one and share stories, life experiences, advice and inspiration. I was fortunate to be paired with Trinity, an impressively smart and sweet girl from Chicago who aspires to be a doctor.
I really enjoyed spending time with my mentee as well as all the girls at camp and I was continually amazed by the thoughtful questions the girls asked. They were truly focused on learning and absorbing as much as possible from their time with the adult mentors. Women were present from a wide variety of professions such as science, technology, law, government, finance, communications, entrepreneurs, and more.
I was asked to lead a workshop on networking and social etiquette in politics, which challenged me to step out of my box a bit to design a seminar. But I had a ball doing it, and the girls really seemed to enjoy discussing the role of women in elected office particularly in light of the history being made this year in our U. S. presidential race.
One activity that seemed to really resonate with adults and girls alike was the “Dreaming Your Future” tradition. A couple of times each day, everyone would gather around the fireplace or campfire, and listen as three or four of the CEOs took center stage and shared their own life story and pathway to leadership.
As usual, the girls had intriguing questions to ask. I found it so interesting that every woman’s story showcased the fact that most of us are not doing what we thought our careers would be when we were in high school or college–in most cases our journey has taken twists and turns to lead us to a place we never dreamed possible. I know that I never planned on becoming a Village President when I was majoring in foods-nutrition/dietetics during my college days!
Camp CEO was an all-around wonderful experience. I’m grateful that we have organizations such as Girl Scouts to provide opportunities like this, which bond women and girls together to inspire the next generation of leaders. But the inspiration works both ways, because I came home uplifted by Trinity and all the other young women I now know who give me hope for a bright future for us all.
This post was written by Angie Underwood, village president of Long Grove. To learn more about Angie, please visit her blog, LifeinLongGrove.com.
The #GirlPower was strong at the Bank of America ‘Bring Your Daughter, Niece and Mentee to Work Day!’ Employees at the Bank of America financial center in downtown Chicago invited Nancy Wright, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, and three special guests — Girl Scouts Cadette Susan Tatelli, Anya Konieczka and Areesha Majeed — to speak about the importance of women in leadership.
During her remarks, Wright discussed the growing number of women in leadership positions and connected this confidence in girls to the main character in the popular animated movie Zootopia and contestants on the reality singing show The Voice. She stressed the importance of trying again, and than failing at something can be a great stepping stone.
“To fail simply means it is your ‘First Attempt In Learning,'” explained Wright. “Remember, oftentimes, when you fail it makes you step back, rethink your approach and try again with even more passion, heart and power. And this is what makes all the difference moving forward.”
Meanwhile, the Girl Scout panelists spoke to their experiences in Girl Scouting and their contributions to their communities through service projects and leadership roles.
“I want everyone who has lost their confidence by losing their hair to find it again,” she said.
In the future, Anya hopes to continue her love of coding, and eventually code for a robot that will help find the cure for cancer.
Susan, a 13-year-old Girl Scout Senior, made headlines with her Silver Award project, which focused on the self-administration of epinephrine. She wants to help those who are still learning about their allergies and those who are not fully aware of what to do during a life-threatening reaction. Susan, who was recently appointed to Food Allergy and Reaction Education (FARE)’s Teen Advisory Group, wants to continue to help raise awareness about food allergies through her Gold Award.