Can you tell us about your experience with Girl Scouts of Central & Southern NJ?
I am currently a second year Daisy co-leader with ECO Woods Troop
61468. My friend Jody, with whom I'd already shared a successful
volunteer experience serving as co-presidents of the West Deptford
Junior Women's Club, and I began our troop last year for our
daughters, who are both now in the first grade.
I was a Daisy Girl Scout myself in 1984, in one of the very first Daisy troops in what was at the time the Hessian Woods unit of Holly Shores Girl Scout Council (I believe the pre-1996 predecessor of GSCSNJ), and remained a Girl Scout through my teen years, having earned my Silver Award in 1993. My mother was my leader, and she founded what is currently ECO Woods Camporee, still running over 35 years later.
I've already gotten to know many amazing volunteers through my affiliation with GSCSNJ and have learned quite a bit from their experiences in order to help make our troop as successful as possible. In fact, I was on that same ECO Woods Camporee Committee last spring, and though it was Covid-Cancelled, it was a wonderful collaboration as so many individuals worked to create an incredible event for our kids - and we have our fingers crossed that the event can be safely held in Spring 2021.
Why do you choose to invest your time in Girl Scouts?
As a youth, I participated in many worthwhile extra-curricular and gained so much from each, but the opportunities that were made available to me through the Girl Scouting movement were some that I could never have experienced otherwise. It was important for me to be able to share those advantages with my own children. As a co-leader, I could draw upon my experiences in event planning from my full-time job to develop an exciting, varied calendar for our girls to keep their levels of enthusiasm high, create new memories, and instill that same sense of sisterhood, citizenship, and leadership that I enjoyed with Girl Scouting in the 80s and 90s.
What impact does volunteering with Girl Scouts have on your life?
Volunteering with Girl Scouts creates an almost unconscious internal cue that relates almost any experience back to the Girl Scout Promise & Law. We try to focus all of our troop activities back to the Law so that our Kindergarten and First Grade girls have an age-appropriate understanding that everything they do is referential - with the added benefit that it works for the grown-ups, too: when faced with a challenging individual at work, I have a quiet voice reminding me that a Girl Scout is considerate and caring. When I'm traveling, I'm prompted to use my resources wisely, or when I'm going about my day, I am always aware that I am responsible for what I say and do and should help people at all times.
How have you stayed connected to Girl Scouts during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Jody and I felt strongly that our kids should retain their Girl
Scouting connection during Quarantine without losing equitable
opportunities to achieve their goals. We did several Zoom meetings,
and when we found our Daisies were relatively fatigued with additional
virtual learning, we created our own Scout from Home kits and
porch-dropped items that families could use to earn badges. We also
left them surprises like personalized cookies, for no other reason
than to know that their Daisy Family is still thinking of them.
Additionally, we continued with our weekly e-newsletters and shared
webinars and workshops available from ours and other councils
nationwide, as well as Facebook groups, fun Pinterest pages, Fun Patch
programs, and other digital resources for those families that were
amendable to the opportunities. We also were determined to ensure that
those families who could not participate to that same level at home
would still be able to achieve the same goals with us in person this
year; we are comparatively lucky in GSCSNJ in that in-person
activities are permitted outside, and we diverted our original Year
Two plans outdoors with an intention to keep them away from computers
as much as possible if they were Girl Scouting in person - while still
supporting them 100% if their family's dynamic was best aligned with
virtual Girl Scouting. We use the hashtag #61468Proud - and we are
every single day.
We feel good about the end result, as our troop actually grew during the pandemic!
Can you share your most memorable Girl Scout story with us?
So many of my childhood "firsts" happened as a Girl Scout:
my first time on a horse or in ice skates, my first experience at a
movie theater and in a lean-to, my first time at Disney on Ice or in a
kayak - it was all under a troop flag. When I was a teenager, I was a
Girl Scout Ambassador for Australian Girl Guides at Camp Sacajawea,
and spent time with them during camp activities and exchanged pins and
As an adult, with only a little over a year under my belt, seeing my kids start to grow and engage has been the most rewarding; girls who were (and still can be) introverted and anxious have come alive at our meetings and events, and it's an incredible privilege to be present for their emotional and intellectual development. (Feeding them usually creates the most excitement, and we look forward to when we are able to share in new cuisine adventures again!)
Being able to volunteer for the same Camporee at which I attended was an amazing example of my experiences coming full circle, as well, but my favorite thing overall is simply how our troop refers to itself: we laid the foundation early that we were a Daisy Family, and their peers were their Girl Scout Sisters. The girls reference each other as scouts at home and sisters at school. Their parents and grandparents do so, as well, and we all text and email each other with the greeting, "Hello, Daisy Fam!" To see that bond of sisterhood grow, and see it strengthened at home amongst their own support systems has been incredibly motivating for us and empowering for our girls. My daughter doesn't think twice about having sisters in other states she hasn't met yet, proven by some of the pen pal programs we've already participated in, and we're so proud to live the Sister to Every Girl Scout element of the Girl Scout Law every day.
Anything else you would like to share?
I literally exist because of Girl Scouting and am (at least) the
third of four generations of scouts. My parents were both scout
leaders in the 1970s, having met aboard the USS Lexington in
Pensacola, Florida, at a Skipper's (Exploring Leaders) conference; I
was born several years later. My five brothers and sisters, as well as
a passel of nieces and nephews, were scouts, and one of my brothers
also met his wife through scouting. In addition to Girl Scouts, I was
also a Sea Explorer (currently called Sea Scout) in the BSA in my
youth and earned my Quartermaster Award in 1997 (the GSA equivalent to
the Gold Award and Exploring's equivalent to the Eagle Award). I am
currently a Merit Badge Counselor for several citizenship- and health
and safety-based merit badges through the Boy Scouts' Garden State
Council, and was chosen as my Service Unit's Rookie of the Year in the
spring of 2020. I spearheaded Girl Scout Wellness Day at the
RiverWinds Community Center in the mid-2000s and subsequently was a
keynote speaker at Girl Scouts of the South Jersey Pines (the post
Holly Shores/pre-Central & Southern NJ Council precursor)
"Celebrate the Diversity" fundraising event in Atlantic
City in 2005, whereby I was able to share my experiences in scouting
growing up. My son is currently a Wolf in Cub Scout Pack #296 in West
Deptford, for which both my father and my oldest sister served as
Cubmaster in the 1960s and 1990s, respectively.
A family tradition that I'm happy to continue!