As I enter my 50th year as a registered Girl Scout, I can definitely say Girl Scouts has benefited not only me, but also my family. My experiences as a girl member were minimal at best, but I did make some wonderful friends with whom I am still in contact. It has been as an adult that I have benefited the most.
My husband was a career Army officer and that meant we were constantly moving around the world. In each new location for his entire Army career, I was involved with the local Girl Scout council, either as a leader, Service Unit Chairman, or trainer. I would actually contact my husband's new post before we arrived to arrange to have a Girl Scout troop. After ten years, we had a daughter who became a Daisy Girl Scout and continued all the way through Seniors, earning the Girl Scout Gold Award. Her father was a registered Girl Scout and would accompany us on all of our camping trips and field trips, both in the United States and abroad. Girl Scouts was a family affair for us. We would even plan our vacations so that we could attend Scouting events or work on badges with our daughter.
It was my training as an elementary school teacher which made it an easy transition into troop leadership. I easily put as much time into our troop plans as I had done for my classroom lesson plans. It became a creative outlet for me. Even more important, working with Girl Scouts gave me an opportunity to make friends in our new living environment. Since finding leaders is hard, a woman who volunteers to take a troop is welcomed into the group and I found many lasting friends from these ladies.
I have been fortunate to attend trainings at Our Chalet, stay at Olave House, and attend an international event at Our Cabana. My husband and daughter were also able to visit the world centers in London and Adelboden. The three of us were at Olave Centre before it was officially open and had a chance to see what it was going to be upon completition. I still correspond with some of the women I met in Adelboden.
We lived in Belgium for six years and I enjoyed the opportunities open to Girl Scouts Overseas. My Brownie Girl Scouts had many combined meetings with the British Brownies and Guides. We learned about WAGGGS up close and personal. It was, however, living in Morocco which was the most challenging. I had girls from seven countries in my Brownie Girl Scout troop. We used American materials, but having a flag ceremony required some adaptations to include flags for all of the girls represented.
When we moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, I became involved in the Girl Scout Council of the Pacific, leading a Daisy and a Cadette Girl Scout troop, serving as Service Unit Chairman, and a council trainer. It was here that I was awarded the Thanks Badge, and what an honor and surprise that was.
As an adult volunteer I've marched in Veterans Day parades, attended theatrical productions, attended events at Macy, visited the Juliette Lowe House in Savannah, gone whitewater rafting and ice skating, had a living room filled with cookies from floor to ceiling, visited many unusual places, learned much Girl Scout history and many traditions, and participated in international events. My daughter and I enjoyed sharing Girl Scouting together and having my husband along made it a wonderful family experience. I definitely benefited from the Girl Scout organization on all levels and have received more from it than I could possibly ever give. I'm definitely a better person because of my Girl Scout experiences and the love I have for the organization.
-- Nancy Karrick