When I was a little girl, my mom worked full-time and she didn’t always have time to attend my extracurricular activities, which is why it meant that much more to me that she was my Girl Scout troop leader. We gathered once a week at our town firehouse and recited the Girl Scout promise, sang songs, ate snacks, did crafts and earned badges. When you become a parent you find yourself either longing to give your child some of the same experiences that you had or longing to give them those that you didn’t. My husband was in Cub Scouts as a boy and he attributes his MacGyver-like skills to scouting. He can look at a car part or a household appliance that’s broken and at the very least attempt to fashion a way for it to work again.
Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson Troop #767: Top from left to right: Jordyn, Sara, Alexia, Ariana, Morgan, Alyssa, Dalila, Hannah, Angelina. Bottom row from left to right: Evyonna, Brin, Juliana, Sierra, Adryana, Addison, Maya, Lillian
It’s amazing how even those who’ve never been in scouting have some sense of what it means to be a scout. Being called a Girl Scout or Boy Scout is often said with the meaning of being someone who always does the right thing; it’s an association that comes for good reason. The ideals taught by the Scouts to be honest, fair, helpful to others, courageous, respectful and conscientious often follow children right into adulthood. In addition to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, there was a great article in Hudson Valley Parent about the Baden-Powell Service Association that provides an alternative to traditional scouting for those parents looking for a co-ed group.
This week we signed my son up for Cub Scouts in the Hudson Valley Council of Boy Scouts of America and my daughter just started her second year as a Brownie in Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson troop #767. I wanted to talk to other parents to learn their experiences with scouting so I spoke to my husband’s co-worker, my daughter’s troop leader and the girls in her troop to find out just what they loved about the scouts.
Jayden tries on his uniform for his first year as a Cub Scout.
My husband’s co-worker Mark has been heavily involved in Cub Scouts for the past eight years, since his oldest son was in 1st grade. He has two sons Mathew (13) and Anthony (10) in Cub Scouts and a daughter Angelina (10) in Girl Scouts. He had some great things to say:
Learning New Skills And Making Friends
“I love that they get to meet and make friends, learn life skills, learn outdoor skills like camping, hiking, biking, tubing, survival skills like how to start fires with or without an accelerant, first aid, and earn badges and belt-loops, which is the Cub Scout version of badges.”
“I always tell my kids that the real benefits of scouting will come 10-20 years down the road when you apply for a job and the person you are interviewing with sees you were a scout and they also did scouting. It forms this instant connection. Especially if you reach the level of Eagle Scouts. It shows you have good leadership qualities.”
The girls in my daughter’s troop wrote letters to the service men and women in our armed forces, addressing them as, “Dear Hero” and asking them things like, “How can you be so brave?” They are truly learning what it means to serve our country and community.
Integrity And Community Service
Mark went on to talk about the impact scouts have on their community. “They do a multitude of community service projects from working at the local library to serving at soup kitchens, to gathering donations of pet food for the SPCA,” he said. “Not only is this work good for the kids, but it also shows the community that kids are willing to do positive things whether they are in uniform or not.”
“My son was at a swimming event in New Paltz and a lady in front of him dropped a $50 bill. He wasn’t in uniform at the time, but he immediately picked it up and gave it back to her. That’s the type of honesty cultivated in the scouts,” he explained.
“It’s not just for one year. When you’re a scout; you’re always a scout.”
When I spoke to my daughter’s troop leader Jenny about why she wanted to become a troop leader, she said it was because she wanted to give her daughter Sara the same experiences she had as a girl and when there wasn’t a troop for her age group she decided to get involved.
The girls from troop #767 were interviewed by Mike Sakell on Thunder 107 last year about why they liked being a Girl Scout.
What It Means To Lead
Even though taking on a leadership role in Girl Scouts is tantamount to having a part-time job, Jenny has found it beneficial not only for her family, but also for all the girls she leads.
“They learn respect, responsibility, awareness, kindness, and self-defense,” said Jenny. “I also love the sisterhood that’s formed. If one girl is upset and having a bad day, the whole troop gathers around her for a group hug.”
Field Trips And Opening Doors
The kids go on different outings during the year from trips to a horse ranch to a Dojo to learn Karate. “The recognition of the organization opens up doors when I meet with local business owners,” said Jenny. “It certainly helps to plan outings for the girls when people know the name Girl Scouts and want to help and I find many who were Girl Scouts or leaders themselves.”
Even the shy Girl Scouts came out of their shells to help sell cookies at the mall last year. Some of them held signs or sang songs, while others took money and gave out boxes of cookies. You could see their confidence growing throughout the day and they sold every last box, all 252 of them. It was a great team effort!
When I asked the girls in Hannah’s troop Girl Scouts Heart of The Hudson troop #767 what they loved most about Girl Scouts some said it was the trips, and some said it was earning badges. I’ve certainly seen first-hand how scouting has benefited my child. Last year, while selling cookies at the mall all the girls (even the shy ones) came out of their shells to speak to customers, take money, and give out cookies. When my daughter decided that she was going to dance and sing and work in marketing I thought, “Yup, that’s my girl.” As a former marketing and fundraising professional for non-profits, I know just how hard it is to approach strangers and ask for donations or to sell things like tickets. I see real world skills being taught to these girls right now at the ages of five-years-old and up. It’s amazing to see their fearlessness, their helpfulness, and just how their positive attitudes affect other people. Those are skills they’ll have for life.
Were you a scout as a child and if so, did you want your kids to have the same experiences?