Currently, I’m mulling an assignment for another publication about women and leadership. I have been in the workforce since 1971 and it is easy for me to remember women who provided leadership on many levels.
As I reflected on this topic, I realized that I experienced many examples of leadership earlier than 1971, when I was a Girl Scout. To set this in time context, Girl Scout cookies sold for fifty cents a box during my Scouting years.
The Girl Scout movement celebrates its 100th anniversary this year with a variety of local and national events. In June, 200,000 Scouts, leaders, and alumnae are expected in Washington, D.C. for several events celebrating Girl Scouting.
I was a Brownie Scout and a Junior Girl Scout in Troop 204 of the former Indiana Lakeland Council. My sash, which I still have hanging in my office, has multiple pins and patches that represent badges and awards I achieved during that time with the support and direction of local and county leaders. Some of the badges and pins I don’t recognize, but I remember sewing, cooking, roller-skating, bird watching, swimming, camping, and first aid.
What came back to me readily was the memory of the women who gave so much time for the girls in my troop. We met on Tuesday afternoons every week during the school year at the Town Hall. I often wore my uniform to elementary school, and after school a group of us walked the seven blocks to Scouts from school. We often had activities on Saturday afternoons and of course had Day Camps and other outdoor outings in the summer. Our leaders were Mrs. Kreider and Mrs. McVay. In those ancient days, every meeting followed a formula. We were expected to behave like ladies as well as help others and contribute. This meant I wasn’t supposed to punch Mrs. Kreider’s daughter in the face as I did in the fourth grade. I was reprimanded, particularly by Mrs. McVay, the assistant leader, who also was my mother.
The world was very different then and as Scouts, we focused on skill sets that today would be considered very old-fashioned. However traditional, self-reliance was a great lesson to learn early.
The lessons of Scouting ring true still for me. From the very beginning, we were encouraged to speak up for ourselves and treat others with kindness and respect. We also learned from excellent examples that volunteering to better our communities betters the world. My mom often repeated the idiom “above and beyond the call of duty” about Scouting and other community activities.
I did not have a daughter, so I never again worked with Girl Scouts. However, I am proud to be the mother of an adult son who achieved his Eagle Scout award in 2007 from the Buffalo Trace Council, Troop 305.
Congratulations, Girl Scouts, on achieving this milestone of your century anniversary.
Published March 2012 in the “Good Morning” column of the Evansville Courier and Press.