Girl Scouts :: It’s Not All Cookies and Crafts

I was a Girl Scout for a few years growing up, and although I remember my scouting time fondly, I wouldn’t have said it made a huge impression on me overall. I had some fun, made some stuff, earned some badges, and went camping a few times. It was fun to hang out with my friends, but when I stopped attending I thought that was the end of my life as a scout.

Until I had two girls.

I am now a proud Girl Scout mom and the leader of two troops. In my adult role I have such a good time with my girls and their friends. I have been able to see firsthand how much they are (slowly) growing into amazing young women. This new lens has really brought some focus to what I want for my girls in life and how I can encourage that. There are so many amazing benefits to being a Girl Scout:

Girls grow confident and secure

A lot of what we learn in our meetings centers around being kind to others and being kind to ourselves. Girls have the opportunity to lead meetings, decide which badges to earn, and develop skills to their interests. They are also given support to teach the other scouts what they have learned. We have practiced being good sports and speaking up for ourselves, and we’ve participated in great community events.

We sell cookies

Cookies and Girl Scouts go hand in hand. From Thin Mints to Shortbread, there is something for every sweet tooth. But did you know these cookie sales do more than fundraise for fun activities? I have seen my third grade troop go from trying to remember how to count by fives (boxes are $5 each in our area) to offering customers choices and making perfect change. They grow financial skills as they manage our cookie booth. But we also donate a third of our profits to a local charity each year. The girls decide how and where to donate the money. When you buy a box of cookies, it is so much more than a box of deliciousness.

They gain new experiences

My daughter is afraid of dogs, especially if she is not the one to initiate a greeting. However, because we have gone on so many hikes, when she sees a dog she now moves to the other side of a path or comes to me for comfort instead of screaming, yelling, or cowering. We push our scouts just a LITTLE out of their comfort zone to have exposure to new experiences. There is another girl in my troop who would use our whole meeting time telling us about her day… month… and year. Now she is an active listener; she still loves to share but does so in a way that invites others to join the conversation. Finally, a third girl in my troop would stick close to her mom each meeting, nervous of the “newness” of it all.  We went on a hike this past weekend where she led the group, much farther ahead than her mom!

They make new friends

Transitioning to the next grade has been easier for the girls as they get to know so many more peers. They may have never been in class together in school, but they become friends and lead meetings together. They also have gained problem-solving skills, and they’re able to better navigate social situations and diffuse disagreements. Learning new things about new people can be intimidating, but because of the large number of experiences, these girls are ready for new social situations.

I make new friends!

One thing I did not realize I would gain from being an adult Girl Scout was the friends I would make. I lead my third grade troop with two other amazing women. We come from different paths and may not have connected if it had not been for this experience. But now I can call these two my closest of friends. They have been there for me when I was down on myself. We band together to help each other. We split the work of leading, and we gain the rewards of our friendship. I am not sure I would have emotionally made it through the pandemic without them, and I am so grateful for Deb and Christine — my mom tribe that I didn’t know I needed (or wanted).

It is Girl Scout cookie season from December to March, so when you see a cookie booth, send us a smile, purchase a box of cookies, and keep in mind how much these girls are learning. They are growing into the next generation of strong, confident leaders. And I can speak for many when I say their leaders are SO proud of them.

Michelle is a lifelong New Englander who lives in Stoneham and works in Charlestown. She is a preschool and toddler teacher at a small private preschool and holds a master's degree in early childhood education, which has come in useful at both work and home. She has a supportive stay-at-home-dad for a husband and is a mom of five children. She has three boys in middle and high school, plus two girls in elementary school. Michelle teaches infant and toddler classes for early ed teachers, runs workshops for parents through Boston Naps, and runs her own business, The Parenting Survival Expert, offering parenting tips and support. In her spare time, she can be found reading a murder mystery novel, sipping far too much coffee, and dreaming of a home in the mountains.