By Rachael Kaiser, La Crosse Troop Co-Leader
What better way is there to help shape young girls into strong, confident women than to be a Girl Scout leader?! When most people think of Girl Scouts, they think of cookies, and while that is still a part of the traditional Girl Scout program, it’s so much more than that. Cookies are just one way to help us pay for the invaluable experiences we can provide for girls in Girl Scouting! I have had the pleasure of being a Girl Scout leader for 5 years. I started a troop when my daughter, who is now 11, was 5 and in Kindergarten. She really wanted to be a Boy Scout, after tagging along to her brothers scout meetings, but I assured her that Girl Scouts was JUST as amazing as Boy Scouts (and we could make it even better!)
Over the past 5 years, I have seen amazing changes in the girls I’ve had the pleasure of leading. Girls who were once quiet and stood in the background… now have the courage to stand on stage and be part of a skit. Girls who had a hard time thinking outside of themselves… now realize the impact they can have on the world and the people around them. Girls who cried when their mom dropped them off at meetings… now head to summer camp alone for a week each year.
Girl Scouts is a fun, safe place for them to explore how amazing they are and to try new things, knowing that their fellow Girl Scouts and their leaders will support them if they fall. These girls have gotten the chance to meet city leaders, learn new art techniques from university students, practice CPR and first aid safety at the local hospital, try horseback riding for the first time, and so much more. Girl Scouting gives them the opportunity to try something new, learn important life lessons, and explore their community in a way they might not be able to otherwise. I enjoyed being a leader so much, that I now oversee (with the help of some other amazing women) 7 troops of over 60 girls!
And the girls aren’t the only ones benefiting from Girl Scouts.
I have been rewarded in many ways as well. I have come to know and understand these girls in a way I never would have as a casual observer. I learned to let go of my tendency to do everything for them and realized that they are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. I have gotten outside my own comfort zone by trying new things alongside them. When I walk into school and these girls rush up to me to say hi and tell me something about their day, I feel blessed to be a person with whom they want to share these things. I have also gotten to experience all of these fantastic experiences with my own daughter. The quality time we share together through Girl Scouting is immeasurable, and I hope it is these memories my daughter thinks back when she’s older.
It takes a village to raise a child, and I am so thankful to be a part of each girl’s village…helping to build girls of courage, confidence and character!