What do you think of when you hear the words "Girl Scouts?" Cookies? Cute little green vests filled with badges and accolades? Adorable little girls bouncing around and making the world a better place? While all of those things certainly are associated with Girl Scouts, there is SO much more to this incredible organization.
We've covered unfortunate stories about the Boy Scouts here at PopWrapped in the past, mainly regarding their intolerance and homophobia, but the Girl Scouts have gotten no love. I am here to remedy that.
As a former Girl Scout, this topic is very near and dear to my heart. Most of my best adolescent memories were created around a campfire with my best friends singing songs and making food that, for whatever reason, really only tastes good when cooked over an open, outdoor flame. Below are my reasons why every little girl should at least try Girl Scouts and why it far surpasses its brother group.
Sisterhood: I learned SO MUCH about friendship in the Scouts. So much of what we did was based on team-building, and you really learn the meaning of trust when you're counting on your friends to harness you properly on a zip-line. Even though I am not nearly as close with all of my troop sisters as I once was, I still have contact with most of them, and they actually helped me to compile this list.
Life Skills: When we were camping, our troop leader insisted that we live without electricity (even though it was available). We had to learn how to stuff everything we would need into one pack, how to roll our own sleeping bags, cook our own food, clean the latrines (yes, it IS as foul as it sounds), and basically just fend for ourselves. Now, that is not to say that we were left completely on our own, only being elementary school-aged, our leader was always watching and instructing, but there was an expectation of self-reliance, and we were better for it.
Life Hacks: Did you know that crayons wrapped in wax paper are THE BEST fire starters? No? Well you do now! They can also add a little color to the flame, which is a definite bonus!
Fire Food: EVERYTHING tastes better when it's cooked in a pie iron. No, I'm serious. Pizza? No problem! Monkey bread? Forget about it! If you have a pie iron and some of those handy dandy fire starters I mentioned you will never go hungry.
Fire Games: Telephone is a game where a person starts a phrase, and it gets whispered to each girl around the fire. The goal is for the last girl to repeat the original phrase exactly, but that never happens. So "Stacy has green eyes and a pretty smile" inevitably turns into "Tracy is beast side and a dirty style." Endless entertainment.
Campfire Knowledge: Any Girl Scout worth her salt can make a rousing campfire. This includes the aforementioned fire starters, plenty of kindling and your logs in the teepee formation. Trust me, I'm a Girl Scout, I'd never steer you wrong. There's also only one surefire way to get the acrid campfire smoke to redirect itself away from your face: By chanting "I hate white rabbits" over and over until the wind bends to your will and blows the smoke elsewhere.
Camping: Okay so I know this is kind of broad, but weekend camping trips with my girls were the highlight of every summer. The days were packed with fun activities that usually included some sort of water play, followed by delicious food, and camping out under the stars nestled in between your best friends. Sound heavenly? That's because it totally was.
Digging For Fossils: Did you know you can do this in Ohio? You totally can, and it is as awesome as it sounds. Caesar's Creek Spillway was the ocean floor 450 million years ago during the late Ordovician period. And while you're not going to find a dinosaur, you definitely have a good shot at finding some trilobites, coral and other ancient bottom-feeding creatures. It was an amazing experience.
Spelunking: Strange name aside, spelunking is my absolute favorite thing I ever did as a Girl Scout. Spelunking, also known as caving, had a huge impact on young me. GI Joe crawling through tiny, claustrophobic caverns; sleeping inside a cave with nests of bats dangling above me with nothing to protect me but a sleeping bag; floating on an underground lake in absolute darkness save one spotlight watching alien creatures swim in the depths; every single part of it stayed with me. It was the first time that I really remember being awed by nature.
Knowledge: Our troop leaders always made sure that we learned while we were having fun. Take "Thinking Day," for example. This is an event where all of the local troops are assigned a foreign country. They are then tasked with learning as much as they can about that country, including customs, food, religion, language, art, etc., and creating a booth within that theme. I remember the year my troop had Zimbabwe vividly. Their rich culture and gorgeous art and textiles have stayed with me throughout the years. Though, I must admit, I wasn't too fond of the bean and rice dish we created!
Trips: I've touched on a couple of the field trips we took above (spelunking and digging for fossils), but that was really just the tip of the iceberg. The biggest trip in my Girl Scout history was when we ventured to Savannah, Georgia to visit the Juliette Low House. Low is the founder of the Girl Scouts, and there is an entire district, museum, elementary school, house (and much more) dedicated to her in the charming and succulent town of Savannah. Our troop traveled there in the sixth grade to get to the roots of the Scouts, and it was magical. Not only did we get to visit the Juliette Low House and dress up in Victorian garb and have tea and crumpets, but we got to tour this magical little hamlet. We took haunted carriage rides and were scared to death by the numerous ghost stories surrounding the town. We got to eat authentic Southern cuisine. We got to stop off at Stone Mountain in Atlanta and enjoy some fun on the beach and climb the top of the mountain. That journey left an indelible mark on me.
Compassion, Equality, Inclusion and Tolerance: I'm not going to say that Girl Scouts turned me into the tree-hugging liberal that I am today; but I suppose it could be partially true. We were taught to respect and marvel at nature. We were taught to respect ourselves and others always. We were taught to be kind and compassionate. We were taught that equality MATTERED. Whereas the Boy Scouts choose to focus their energy on hatred, the Girl Scouts choose to focus on spreading love and enriching their world. I mean, it's right there in the Girl Scout Promise:
On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
And we can't overlook the Girl Scout Law. I mean, it IS a law after all:
I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Girl Scout Cookies: Because Thin Mints.
This article has given me such joy. Even just thinking about all of these incredible memories shoots me straight back to easier times when my only concern was which paddle boat I was going to be in, who was going to be my bunk-mate, and which fabulous adventure I would go on next.
This post is dedicated to my beloved band of sisters, Troop 2391. Thank you for the memories!