An Open Letter from a Volunteer

When I was asked to speak at the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, the first thing I asked was “Why ME?” I’m just an average Girl Scout leader in a relatively small Service Unit, but I figured, why not?
I became a Girl Scout leader for the same reasons as many of you. I wanted to share this experience with my daughter when she was in Kindergarten, and, well, pretty much there was only 1 other person willing to become a leader of a new troop. So, 12 years later, I’d like to thank my co-leader, Judy, who has shared this awesome adventure with me.

After 12 years of troop meetings, badges, trips and service projects, there are so many stories I could discuss. But what I decided to share with you is all the things I learned as a Girl Scout Leader:

  • Attention span of Daisies = 10 minutes, so plan accordingly.
  • When 1 Brownie asks to use the bathroom, be prepared for most of them to ask to go.
  • Given enough practice, every girl can learn to roll her own sleeping bag.
  • At 20 degrees Fahrenheit, a leader can lace up about 3 pairs of ice skates before losing all feeling in her fingers.
  • Enjoy the 30+ minute attention span of Juniors, because when the girls become Cadettes, the attention span goes back to 10 minutes.
  • Girls in your troop will quickly feel like an extension of your own family (sports, concerts, plays). Leaders are everyday heroes - getting up on a Saturday morning to go to an event when they would like just a little more sleep, giving a ride home from school or community functions if a parent cannot be there on time, standing in all sorts of weather to supervise a cookie booth sale, taking their girls camping, even though it is not quite their cup of tea.
  • Leaders take on the role of teachers - not only of skills and information, but also when it comes to managing interpersonal relationships.
  • In order to be good teachers, leaders must also be students - learning skills to teach their scouts… from camping skills to geocaching, to robotics or jewelry making. You name it, we’ve probably learned it! (Although I do have to say that I have no idea how leaders did all this before Google or Pinterest!)
  • Camaraderie of fellow leaders is important - I have been blessed with amazing leaders in my Service Unit who step in to help at a moment’s notice.
  • It all goes SO fast.

Seems like not long ago we were kneeling to place the first pins on our Daisies and loading our cars with booster seats to travel to an event. This year, our girls are learning to drive and next year will be eligible to vote!  So, I’ve learned to enjoy every level as it comes!

So, I’d say that no volunteer is “average”.  Rather, we are all extraordinary for making a difference in the lives of our girls. On behalf of all at GSNENY, I’d like to thank you for all the time and energy you have put into being a Girl Scout Volunteer. Just like Juliet Gordon Low could never have imagined that her first troop of 18 Girl Scouts would lead to all that we have today, you may never know the impact you’ve had on your girls’ lives.

I’d like to share with you my own special Girl Scout recipe:

  1. Take the endless energy of a Daisy and mix with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a Brownie.
  2. Add the principles of the Girl Scout Law and Girl Scout Promise and blend well.
  3. Season with the amazing experiences of badges and trips.
  4. Whip together with the blossoming self-awareness of a Junior.
  5. Toss the mixture with the lessons of citizenship and service to others.
  6. Gently stir in the middle school Cadette, with kindness and understanding of the challenges she faces… let sit until all that settles.
  7. Pour in the leadership opportunities of a Senior.
  8. Sprinkle with the growing maturity of an Ambassador.
  9. And garnish with bronze, silver and gold whenever possible.
  10. Then, serve to the world.

Thank you for all you do to help prepare our girls to “Make the World a Better Place.”

*This letter was adapted from Karen Manning's speech at the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on June 19, 2019.
Thank you Karen for allowing us to share your inspiring words!