Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Not Your Mama's Girls Scouts

For many of us, myself included, it’s easy to forget that an organization like the Girl Scouts still exists. My personal experience with Girl Scouts ended when, as a Brownie, I went to sleep-away camp where my mother was a counselor. When I found out I had to share a tent with other girls I didn’t know, I refused and slept in my mother’s tent. That was the end of my Girl Scout days. (For those of you who don’t know, my nickname at that time of my life WAS "SHY"!)
So a few months ago when I was referred to the Girl Scouts USA organization to help 10 of their girls prepare presentations for an upcoming conference, I was intrigued.  I was informed that these 10 girls had been selected to be recognized as National Young Women of Distinction. They had been selected from thousands of girls across the country who had created Gold Award “Take Action” Projects. According to the GIRL SCOUTS USA website:
To earn her Gold Award, a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador (These are Girl Scouts age 16-19) designs and helms a “Take Action” project that: 

  • She is passionate about—in thought, deed, and action
  • Incorporates organizational, leadership, and networking skills 
  • Fulfills a need within her community (whether local or global) 
  • Creates change that has the potential to be ongoing 
Okay, being my NY jaded self, I had no idea what to expect with these projects: Quilt making for the homeless? But boy was I blown away when I read about what these girls had created: 
  • A traveling mini-van that brings education, food, and hygiene to homeless street children in the Philippines.
  • A martial arts program taught to a girl’s school in India so that they could gain confidence and feel safer dealing with what’s called “Eve-Shaming”: 
  • A heavily researched documentary on Human Trafficking AND another heavily researched documentary on Child Pornography;
  • A public handbook for computer coding; 
  • A comprehensive toolkit for dealing with people with Alzheimer's;
  • A comprehensive toolkit for teaching young kids about the dangers of Bullying; The importance of Honeybees and how to keep them from becoming extinct; Creating green energy by making a wind turbine from recycled materials and
  • A course to teach middle school children about entrepreneurship and public speaking. 
Not only was I blown away by their projects, I was blown away by the girls themselves. I’ve been working with all 10 girls over Skype and I have to say they have all been delightful clients. I recently wrote a post on Coachability highlighting what I thought made people coachable. Every single girl I worked with exemplified all the qualities I mentioned. In each initial one-hour session, I had them give me the nuts and bolts of their projects, I’d ask them detailed questions to get at more emotional engagement; make a ton of suggestions on how to organized the content, add and/or take away detail and within the hour session, each girl was able to take down the notes, assimilate what I was asking and deliver a really impressive first draft. There was zero push back or words like “I can’t” They were comfortable telling me what suggestions of mine they didn’t want to use and great at understanding what I was asking of them. 

The event I’m preparing them for takes place on October 7th at the beautiful Edith Macy Center in Briarcliff Manor NY and is going to be livestreamed. Here’s the link if you’re interested in checking it out. It’s definitely going to be inspiring AND informative. 

I know for most of us, our Girl Scout days are behind us or for you men, were never possible but what I’d like to leave you with is Anne Frank’s words:

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

And as one of my Girls Scouts said very passionately: “So many people TALK about wanting to help empower women but I wanted to DO something” What’s something that you can do to Do Good?

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