June 18, 2007
Girl Scouts

So I confess I didn't know much about the Girl Scouts, but after being sent this WaPo story by my friend Hope, and being assured that they don't have the same abhorrent politics as the Boy Scouts, I could see encouraging Olivia and Audrey to give them a try.

They're cute, they're smart, they're fun. Why would they be labeled geeks?

Part of it is the earnestness intrinsic to scouting, so at odds with the practiced boredom and casual cynicism that defines teen culture today. Being a Girl Scout requires a lack of self-consciousness. An ability to sing songs with lines like "When you make a promiiiiiiise, consider its importaaaaaance" in a round, without smirking. Being a Girl Scout requires a pure mind, even when singing "The Brownie Smile Song" ("I've got something in my pocket. . . . I keep it very close at hand in a most convenient place") .

So in their public, non-Girl Scout lives, senior Scouts are teased for being goody-goodies.

"It's such a relief to come to the singalong and not have to worry about what people are going to say," says Joanna Pollard, 13, a secret Girl Scout from Troop 1184 in Greensboro, N.C. She doesn't like the teasing--that exquisitely delivered eye-roll--she gets when people learn she's still a Scout, but she'd never dream of quitting.

"A lot of people our age just sit around and watch TV," says Joanna. "They don't care about their communities or the environment." Her troop is actively involved in several service projects, most recently cleaning up a community garden.

"People can't believe I'm still a Girl Scout," adds her troop mate Kristen Cossaart, 14. "Because they don't realize it's about so much more than cookies."

Well, I can certainly imagine worse things, and the "geek" label is not one I shy away from, so I come away from this feeling pretty good about such a future for my daughters. What do you think?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 18, 2007 to Society and cultcha

Charles, my own 17-year old daughter Audrey is a Senior Scout, and she is pretty cool in every way a teenager can be cool. I don't doubt that sticking with her troop for all these years has helped her develop some of her best qualities -- loyalty, inclusiveness, public-spiritedness.... When she started out, about 12 years ago, we didn't know much about Girl Scouts and we didn't push her to stay involved. But now I'm glad she did.

Posted by: Jeff N. on June 18, 2007 8:45 AM

I started Girl Scouts in second grade (although these days you can start in kindergarten) and was one of those who stayed in through high school. The opportunities for girls of all ages, but particularly older girls, are just phenomenal. And to this day, I credit my interest in public policy and in volunteering to the lessons Girl Scouting taught me - chief among them that I have a responsibility to make the world a better place.

Posted by: hope on June 18, 2007 9:07 AM

Having been involved with Scouting with both my son and daughter I have come to prefer the less rigid, more tolerant, and somewhat less bureaucratic style of the Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts are way less rigid on uniforms and the girls advance in rank by age instead of earning badges. The one advantage of the Boy Scouts is that the troops are larger and have more adult leaders. The Girl Scout troops are more like the Cub Scout Dens and rise or fall on the efforts of one or two adult leaders. The good ting about the Girl Scouts is that if the troop falls apart the girls can continue on as solo scouts. The Girl Scout San Jacinto Council has an excellent camp system. Camp Misty Meadows is a fine camp for girls who are interested in horse riding and Camp Case Mare teaches all a girl need to now about sailing. My daughter has been a Girl Scout for the last 10 years and is spending her last two weeks as a Mariner at Camp Case Mare. She has learned to sail several types of boats and the girls will sail on two of the larger boats that the Camp owns from Kemah to Galveston, where they will stay overnight and visit Moody Gardens and of course shop on the Strand Before sailing back to Kemah


Posted by: Bill K on June 18, 2007 10:31 AM

I started Brownies in second grade and I stayed until I was a senior somewhere in the middle of high school. I loved scouting. My mom was very much involved in my early years of scouting, but I stayed involved long after she left. Part of it was that my best friend, who never went to the same school I did, was also involved, and it was our opportunity to do things together. Camp Casa Mare was my favorite place in the world from the time I was about 12 'til I was about 16.

When I hit the middle of high school, my best friend and I joined the Sea Explorers, which is a co-ed division of the boy scouts dedicated to sailing. We kicked ass there, too.

I certainly wouldn't push scouting on a girl who isn't interested in it (niether one of my sisters particularly liked scouting), but definitely make the opportunity available for your daughters when they're old enough.

Posted by: 'stina on June 18, 2007 11:56 AM

I was a Girl Scout, and I think it did alot for me in understanding leadership, and community involvement. I didn't go all the way through until high school since we moved, but while there, I became a far more diverse individual, setting a life-long path toward learning. I can sail a boat, cook, know how to use a hammer and screw driver, change a tire, and much, much more. It was much like the "How to Survive..." books, but taught at a much younger age - and with badges!

Posted by: Larissa on June 18, 2007 12:21 PM

I'm a 16 year old senior in high school, and I'm a Girl Scout. I actually joined Girl Scouts as a freshman, and I love it. Once you get to 12th grade, people realize that Girl Scout doesn't necessarily go hand-in-hand with geek. It's worth it to join, for the affordable trips and great deals on outdoor activities, or for the great leadership and volunteer positions to put on college applications.

Posted by: Laura on June 18, 2007 11:57 PM