Thursday, January 20, 2011

Girl Scouts ... Not Just For Girls

I remember walking into a room of incarcerated women who were waiting to meet their daughters for a very non-traditional Girl Scout troop meeting. Hidden behind the crowd of children were two - a brother and sister - there for the first time. The room quickly filled with chatter and hugs as children were reconnecting with their mothers. But one moment stood out above the others. To hear a mother's emotion filled sobs echoed by her children as they embrace for the first time in years shook me to the core. A Girl Scout, a "tagalong" sibling, and an incarcerated mother ... all joined together and working toward hope. That's powerful.

Reaching out into a girl's life affects far more than just the young girl. I'm thinking about her connections in the world ... and they are significant. Imagine being able to inject courage, confidence and character into her relationships. How would that affect her mother? Her brother? Her schoolmates? Her teachers? Her mentors?

We often talk about the change Girl Scouting makes in the life of a girl, but we don't always talk about the change it can make in the lives of those connected to her. But the impact is exponential.

I remember interviewing a Girl Scout volunteer who is a school employee. As she told stories that went from troop to camp to schoolyard, we laughed and cried together ... and I was humbled by the amazing circle of impact I heard just through one voice.

I remember being introduced to a woman who talked about how Girl Scouting was as much for her as it was for her daughter. The same courage, confidence and character that was building in her troop was also building in her, and she was able to free herself from abuse and finally found she indeed did have a wonderful future and life ahead of her.

I remember hearing about an adventure involving a Girl Scout with disabilities and her troop learning to rappel ... again laughing and crying over the trials and triumphs. And I was so thankful for the man (one of our outdoor trainers) who so gently encouraged and empowered the young girl. Yet talk to him or his wife and their dedicated scouting family (even their daughters are leaders now of troops) and you'll find story after empowering story not just about the girls, but about their families and their futures.

I remember reading a thank you card from a volunteer who never realized she'd need to use her first aid training to save her own son. And to the schoolmates of two young girls I know who have literally saved lives? It's almost beyond words. The impact is immeasurable.
Even I, who am on the lowest scale when I observe these moments from the outside, feel that impact and it changes me. Imagine how making a difference can change the rest of the world!
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