We have so much to celebrate as Girl Scouts. Not only do we continue to take the lead, we also make the world a better place! This week – National Volunteer Week– is a chance for us to celebrate the dedicated individuals who work so tirelessly for Girl Scouts. Indeed, our dedicated adult volunteers continue to be the pulse of our movement!
Since 1912, Girl Scouts has empowered girls of all ages—guiding them toward the path of leadership and self-fulfillment. Today, the program serves nearly two million girls worldwide, and nearly 60 million American women are Girl Scout alumnae.
Recently, we caught up with some of the volunteers who help make the magic happen here at the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains and asked them what it means to be a Girl Scout.
For longtime volunteer Patricia Decker, it was fond childhood memories of spending time with a Girl Scout leader she thought of as “the nicest woman in the world, second to my Mom,” that inspired her to give back. Today, Decker is in her seventh year as a troop leader, and she prides herself in creating memories that she hopes her Brownies and Juniors will carry with them well into adulthood.
Why Girl Scouts? “Well, that’s easy,” says Decker. “Girl Scouts teaches girls that they can do anything. We don’t believe in gender roles or gendered professions. And the Girl Scout Law is chock full of goodness. If only everyone would live by our Law!”
Not only does she meet inspiring girls through volunteering with the organization, Decker credits the Girl Scouts with providing her the opportunity of meeting amazing adult female friends as well. “I know that I can call these women and ask for help with just about anything, and they will be there for me,” she says. “While television and social media repeatedly portrays female friendships as being competitive, we don’t act like that in Girl Scouts. We help each other and genuinely want to see the other succeed. “
For Brandy Hardiman, Girl Scouts has been a lifelong passion – from joining as a girl in first grade, earning her Gold Award, and now as a troop leader.
As a high school student working toward her Gold Award, Hardiman taught a group of local first graders about the importance of recycling. As she watched those younger girls make new discoveries and delighted in their newfound knowledge, Brandy felt her heart burst with pride. Now a leader of two Girl Scout troops, that feeling hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s proven quite contagious.
“The enthusiasm the girls have for Girl Scouts and the things we do makes my heart happy,” Hardiman says, noting that her troop members often recruit other friends because the enjoy Girl Scouting so much. “We have a strong, supportive network and have become another family.”
Nancy Dickinson’s relationship with Girl Scouts spans over three decades and includes experiences as a girl member, a camp counselor, and most recently, a leader and facilitator. For Dickinson, being a lifelong Girl Scout means “belonging to a movement which empowers girls and the adults who work with them to try new experiences they might never have thought they could do, encourage each other along the way, and learn to live by the Girl Scout Law.”
While attending college in northern Michigan, Dickinson had the time of her life working as a Girl Scout camp counselor, and made many cherished memories. “At the end of each camp session, each camper made a small boat from tree bark and natural decorations, added a small birthday-sized candle, and floated it down the river,” she recalls. “Every time I hear the song, ‘Barges,’ all those memories come flooding back.”
Many years later, as a troop leader, Dickinson accompanied a group of council girls on a trip to England where they attended Poacher—a weeklong camporee for Girl Scouts, Girl Guides, and Boy Scouts from around the world. “It was a very special experience where I made many lasting friendships.”
With a lifetime of Girl Scout memories under her belt, Dickinson said the lessons she’s learned have served her well in adulthood. “The people you meet, learn to work with, and learn from are very important,” she says. “Some of my very best friends I have met through Girl Scouting, and they are special to me because I know they have the same values I do, and we have been there for each other through good times and bad.”
We salute our dedicated volunteers and continue to learn from their collective wisdom. Has Girl Scouts made a difference in YOUR life? Tell us—we’d love to hear all about it!