The faces of courage

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The theme of the 2007-08 Girl Scout year was courage.  We had a number of contests for girls and troops centered around courage.  We had good results and were pleased with it.  The annual report was done around the theme of courage.  It was well done and illustrated what courage can mean.  We were proud of this accomplishment... and then, there was an accident and I got to see the real faces of courage.

I had my summer planned.  I wanted to spend the entire summer working from one resident camp and then the next.  What could be more perfect than a job where you get to spend the entire summer at camp with the girls?  But sometimes the best laid plans don't come true.  However, sometimes you find some of what you were looking for in a place you did not anticipate.

There was a bad accident.  And because of that accident I spent the summer visiting the hospital.  I visited two girls in the hospital who were courageous.  I don't think they meant to be courageous, that wasn't part of their summer plan. 

One of the girl's summer plan was the same as mine; be at camp with the girls all summer, something she had done many times before.  This girl is incredibly special.  For her high school graduation gift, she asked for a lifetime membership to the Girl Scouts.  This girl has spent most of her summers at Girl Scout camp, both as a camper and then as a staff person.  She has a lot of friends and a very special boyfriend.  She's popular with her sorority sisters and she's herself first and foremost a Girl Scout.  This girl typifies what the Girl Scout programs are about.  She is a leader, she is confident and this summer she has had to have courage every day. 

The other girl is a very active girl, not as old.  At first she was very quiet with me.  She didn't know me or understand why I was around.  My first three visits I didn't think she could talk.  And she hurt; she didn't need to talk to me.  I saw the worry in her mother's face, the concern etched.  Something a mother cannot hide.  As I got to know this girl I found she is very good-tempered.  She loves to laugh, play, have fun and can be quite a joker.  Daily she exhibits courage because what she does is hard and it hurts.  But she exudes a spunk and spirit which is amazing and she's only eleven.  Clearly, this is not what she had in mind for her summer.  She wants to go to Costa Rica and explore the world.  Her mother has explored the world and she has the same sense of adventure, despite the accident.

The mothers of these girls also exhibited courage every time I talked to them.  Both knew this was going to be a hard summer, one they had not envisioned.  They put on their very best face for those who visited them, but what made them remarkable is how grateful they always were for the visitors, gifts and concern for their daughter.  It was clear that each of those special girls also had courageous mothers.  They spent quality time, they encouraged their daughter and they taught them how to be girls of courage, confidence, and character. 

I did not expect to spend part of my summer coming to see the faces of courage the way I did.  It was not my plan.  But I had the opportunity to see what Girl Scouts have to offer through the faces of two girls and their mothers who exhibit courage.  Their summer, like mine, was not what was planned.  But it provided an opportunity for growth, self understanding, and a chance for me to see what courage is like in the face of adversity.

Both girls are now out of the hospital and recovering at home.  They want to thank everyone for all of the thoughts, cards and well wishes they received from their Girl Scout family.

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