Volunteer Highlights

Kimberly O'Neal website
Kimberly O'Neal

Can you tell us about your experience with Girl Scouts of Central & Southern NJ?

I was a Girl Scout as a child, and happily, both of my daughters expressed interest in joining Girl Scouts. My older daughter was placed right away in a troop, and I enjoyed volunteering to help them. There were no open Daisy troops for my younger daughter, so she joined a group of Juliette Girl Scouts who were doing fantastic things together. Several of the mothers trained to become leaders, and we eventually formed traditional troops. That’s how I became the leader of my younger daughter’s Girl Scout Troop.

I love the Girl Scout Cookie Program and the essential skills it teaches the girls, so I became my older daughter’s Troop Cookie Manager. I was also helping the independent Girl Scout parents with their sales, which caught the attention of my Service Unit’s (SU) retiring SU Cookie Manager. So now I have been the SU Cookie Manager for the LET's Service Unit for several years, and along the way, became the SU Data Manager. Our Service Unit Team has many incredible volunteers, and they inspired me to start coordinating events for the girls within our Service Unit. It’s been an awesome experience over the years. My older daughter is now an Ambassador Girl Scout, and my younger one is in her final year as a Cadette Girl Scout.

Why do you choose to invest your time in Girl Scouts?

The girls are all so amazing. I adore working with them and seeing them grow and evolve into confident, well-rounded young ladies. Girl Scouts allows them to learn a variety of skills in everything from business and first-aid, to engineering and outdoor camping. I love providing the girls with opportunities to try new things and especially for them to teach each other. It’s wonderful to see them develop self-esteem, be persistent, overcome fears and obstacles, and work hard toward the goals that they have set. 

I particularly love that Girl Scouts places a strong emphasis on developing outdoor camping skills. My girls have become avid campers. They love hiking through nature, can hit a bullseye with an arrow, climb the rock wall in record time, boldly leap onto the zip line, and canoe their way through canals and lakes like Camp Inawendiwin’s. They can build their own fires, cook entire meals on them, and clean up their campsite. I cannot think of a better way to spend my time (or my weekends) than to be a part of their continuous learning process.

What impact does volunteering with Girl Scouts have on your life?

I really enjoy volunteering with the girls, their parents, and giving back to my community. In particular, I love volunteering with veterans of our U.S. military. I encourage our Girl Scouts to be part of several local patriotic and memorial ceremonies and give them opportunities to meet people who have made sacrifices in service to our country. I hope that they are seeing that there are many ways to give to others, through Girl Scouts and beyond.

I first got involved as a Girl Scout volunteer because I wanted to help my daughters and their troops as my mother did for me. In the process, volunteering with Girl Scouts has given so much back to me. We have met so many remarkable people who all share the goal of fostering courage, confidence, and character in our girls. The girls and I have had fun adventures and learned many things together, as well as from one another. In seeing how brave and capable the girls can be, it reminds me that I can also be brave and capable. There is much satisfaction in seeing the girls complete the tasks of Girl Scouting, and of course, in their smiles and hugs.

Can you share your most memorable Girl Scout story with us?

There are so many memorable moments from our years of Girl Scouting. It is very tough to choose just one. Our girls have sold mountains of Girl Scout Cookies, volunteered in various ways in the community, earned Girl Awards, been to exciting places, and gone camping together dozens of times.

One moment that stands out was a camping trip at Oak Spring several years ago, when my older daughter’s troop were Junior Girl Scouts. We were camping, and an unexpectedly strong storm began blowing in. The older Boy Scouts who were camping in the site next to ours packed up and headed home, encouraging us to do the same. Our girls were not interested in leaving. They had faith that they would remain safe and were committed to camping for the entire weekend. The winds were gusty, and there was torrential rain, but they stayed. It was a tremendous source of feminine pride and accomplishment that they completed their camping trip.

I look forward to having more empowering experiences like that with my girls.