Yesterday I was working on "Why Join Girl Scouts." I had enumerated the usual list, all worthwhile and good reasons why a girl should become a Girl Scout. Then early this morning I got up and read my e-mail and something struck a chord.
Last week I was fortunate enough to hear Hailey, who earned a gold award, talk to the girls at Beach Scouts about how you make your dreams come true. Hailey is a 1st. Lt. in the Marines and about to earn her wings as a pilot. She is headed for further flight training and won't be as available to share her inspirational message to girls as she has been, but her message is a simple one. Sometimes it is only you, your fears, your doubts, and your hesitations that keep you from realizing your dreams. You can do anything you believe you can if you persist and don't let your own sense of inadequacy for the task get in the way. Hailey is not only very self-confident, but she is able share how she became so accomplished at such a young age, and she can break her success down into achievable pieces so girls understand. As I pondered it, Hailey illustrates confidence, one of the three hallmark values Girl Scouts imbue.
The e-mail this morning was from a camp counselor, Oreo. She also earned a gold award. She was attending the University of Alabama as a prized debater. Skilled in what she did, she is competitive, capable, and driven, while still being humble, approachable, and kind. I watched Oreo a lot last year at camp. She was a good listener. Daily I would see her hiking past where I was working, gently nudging her charges in what should and should not be done, always with a kind word, never raising her voice. The girls adored Oreo. She was a wonderful role model on how Girl Scouts becomes a springboard to teach and learn about leadership.
Since early last year, Oreo has been plagued with health issues. What started as migraines turned into a yearlong experience with the health care delivery system. They think they know what the problem is, and then they don't. They fix one thing and then some other symptom appears, having nothing to do with the diagnosis. A bright, accomplished, high achiever has had to put her own goals on hold while she endures what seems to be endless frustration in trying to address her medical issues so she can get on with her life.
Oreo is an illustration of character and courage. She eloquently describes how she sits in physician waiting rooms, labs, and exam rooms waiting to hear what might be wrong. As someone who is driven, to be sidelined from school, moving along the trail she had laid out is filled with frustration, anxiety, and pain. But she endures; she confronts what some days must be a nightmare for a 20-something with courage, summoning the strength to forge ahead.
Oreo visited us this summer at camp, we were delighted. She got to visit with some of the girls from her camp unit. She was able to visit with her fellow counselors and hear what antics had gone on during a summer that she wound up sitting in medicinal air-conditioned buildings, waiting. Everyone got to talk to her and hear first hand what she has been going through.
Why join Girl Scouts? Because the program provides girls with the life skills to challenge themselves to do things they didn't believe they could do. On the one hand, become a Marine aviator, handling some of the country's most expensive aeronautical equipment, to being able to forge ahead when life's challenges smack you in the face and then smack you in the face again. Both of these young women are excellent illustrations of how building life skills have come to serve them well in times of doubt, crisis, and frustration. The girls I am fortunate enough to work with can do anything. I watch it happen at camp, I watch it occur at council programs, and I'm fortunate enough to see it happen even as they grow up and become fantastic, contributing citizens.