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Girl Scouts — future leaders, leading today

The early jitters of Girl Scout Camp faded into the first sunset as we held hands in our first friendship circle and sang “The Friendship Song.”

Camp leaders announced their names like characters in a Tom Sawyer tale. Not the normal names, but adventure names like Star-Fall and Dancing Hawk, True Bear and Blue Bird. We all tried like mad to discover their real names, but the Girl Scout Ambassadors were too smart for our Nancy Drew attempts.

We were taught that morning about leaving no trace behind. A Colorado Native, I hung on to every word as descriptions of rare flowers were pressed into my mind.

Don’t get me wrong; I loved my pocketknife and the safety class, the camp songs, my name carved into a piece of wood and strung around my neck; I even loved sleeping in a tent with girls I barely knew … but the day I found the rare Lady’s Slipper was the day I knew Girl Scouts had an answer to offer me in my quest for self-discovery. That Lady’s Slipper, the rare and beautiful pink flower, standing unnoticed mid-trail, mirrored my own awkward pre-teen stance. I might as well have been given Cinderella’s glass slipper, only a woods variety, and hope that I had something significant to contribute to the world of pre-adolescents.

The world of Girl Scouts opened my eyes to the world outside of home and school, and it expanded my view. That is what I would like to do for Pagosa: expand the view of Girl Scouting.

Did you know that for every 100 girls who join Girl Scouts:

• 71 percent earn A’s and B’s compared to 50 percent of girls nationwide.

•18 percent will develop hobbies used during their adult life.

• 8 percent will enter a vocation that was learned through a badge or patch program.

• 5 percent will earn their church religious reward.

• 4 percent will earn the Gold Award, the highest award for girls.

• 1 percent will use her Girl Scouting skills to save someone’s life.

• 1 percent will use her Girl Scouting skills to save her own life.

Only rarely will even one be brought before a juvenile court.

In this uncertain world, Girl Scouts strives to teach girls how to be safe in any environment. Durango will be offering a regionwide presentation called “Fight Like a Girl!” Who can be a Girl Scout? Any school aged girl, public, private or homeschooled can be a Girl Scout. Girl Scouts include all grade levels from kindergarten to senior high. Most of us are familiar with Daisies K-1, Brownies 2-3, and Juniors 4-5. But did you know there are also Cadettes 6-8, Seniors 9-10 and Ambassadors 11-12? Girl Scouts are approaching 100 years of teaching girls how to become leaders. Consequently, as a result of the many social, cultural, and economic shifts in our world since its founding in 1912, Girl Scouts have adapted their programs to accommodate the need of every girl.

Girl Scouts collect research and data annually, listening intently for what it is the girls are saying. Recently, the format for a girl’s self-discovery has shifted from a leadership model into more of the girl as leader model. The new model, the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, engages girls in discovering themselves, connecting with others, and taking action to make the world a better place.

Girl Scouts is the organization best positioned to offer girls the tools they need to be successful leaders now and throughout their lives. The Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) is the national organization where all membership dues are collected to create new program activities and books and operates national centers. GSUSA also coordinates national and even international events, such as wider opportunities for Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts of the USA owns two Girl Scout national centers, the Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout National Center, named after our founder Juliette Gordon Low, in Savannah, Georgia and the Edith Macy Conference Center near New York City. But Girl Scouts don’t stop there; they are just one of many Girl Scout/Girl Guide organizations around the world. Together, these organizations have nine million girls in about 140 countries that stretch around the globe. They are joined together in an international organization called the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS).

A fresh wind of Girl Scouting is blowing on Pagosa Country. This year all of the Girl Scout troops in Pagosa Country will be selecting a family for a Christmas Home Makeover. Christmas decorations, lighting, electric bill support, a turkey dinner, presents and more will be collected and presented to one special family. Please contact troop leaders Anita Bowles at anitabowles@centurytel.net or Darcy Downing at darcydrose@yahoo.com if you would like to contribute to this project.

Additionally, the Junior Troop will be developing skills as media stars, receiving training about writing and interviewing in any media form. Hopefully you will be reading an article written by Girl Scouts rather than their troop leader after the holidays.

Presently Girl Scouts has joined with the See It! Stop It! Pagosa Parent Leadership Project in a food drive to restock our much-needed food pantries. Please join us as we support community members in this endeavor. Boxes will be located at most schools, the post office, Parelli’s, Alco, Wells Fargo, Ponderosa, Sherman Williams, the North Pagosa Boulevard fire station, and Park City Auto Parts.

If you would like to support Girl Scouts by becoming a troop leader or volunteering, or if you are interested in your daughter or granddaughter, niece or foster child becoming a Girl Scout, contact Karen Rose, membership manager Region 2 at (866) 827-7033.