More Than a Box of Cookies
By Erin Wong, Senior Girl Scout Troop 78
Erin is also one of two Senior Girl Scout representative to the GSKC Board of Directors
Standing in front of the clean white door, waiting patiently in my excessively-long Cookie Monster blue skort, adorned in the matching vest festooned with various patches, feeling the cold of the overcast day crawl all over my skin, when finally the door opens. With a smile that has pinched my cheeks since the dawn of the morning, the inevitable question blurts from my cold lips: “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”
No matter how often cliched, Girl Scouting is more than just a box of cookies. Of course, every Girl Scout can name the seven kinds of cookies (Thin Mints, Samoas, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Tagalongs, Shortbread, Lemon Coolers, and Double Dutch Chocolate Chip) – it’s ingrained into every scout annually, as young as age six. In fact, the annual selling season is only two months out of the dozen (January and March), but the year-long Girl Scout program encompasses so much more – it’s time everyone knew about all it offers.
Juliette Gordon Low created the Girl Scout program almost 92 year ago, when girls only wore skirts and women were expected to be submissive, passive and domestic. The program consisted of various community service projects as well as proficiency badges to earn, though the subjects were considerably different from today’s. Originally, girls earned their patches and badges based on the how-to’s to gain domestic goddess status, the typical traditional home and family talents. These skills might include how to iron and starch a husband’s shirt, how to scrub the dishes to a glittery glean, and how to shop and cook the perfect meal. However, Juliette’s vision was to empower girls to believe that they could do anything, to go beyond the limiting stereotypes for women.
Fast forward to the 21st century. Now, girls have grown beyond the housewife roles of the past and can earn any and every patch with subjects ranging from Business to Sports to Arts to Science and Technology and even to Car Care.
Also straying from traditional domestic functions, Girl Scouting has become surprisingly more outdoorsy and high adventure. Girl Scouts have rock climbing nights, surfing lessons, sports expos; they ride the rapids on rafting trips, explore trails on horseback and go on high adventure trekking and camping trips – enough to rival the Boy Scouts. As a matter of fact, Girl Scouts of Konocti Council is sponsoring my troop to swim with the fishes as we scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef this summer.
A global community, the Girl Scout organization is part of the international organization of World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). All members are encouraged to visit the four WAGGGS World Centers located around the globe, in London, Switzerland, Mexico and India to commune with their fellow sisters.
Despite all that the Girl Scout program has to offer, many girls decide to pursue other interests by the time they reach junior high school. It’s no longer cool to be associated with this organization at that age and there’s a lot of peer pressure to quit the scouting arena. It’s a shame because the program can and has opened many doors for young girls and women, and has developed them to be better-rounded persons than before their scouting experience.
I, for one, can thank the Girl Scouts for sending me to Los Angeles to be filmed for a television commercial that occasionally still airs today. I can thank the program for developing my leadership, planning and organizational skills. Heck, I’m not as shy as I was before and am willing to open up to sell cookies. In addition, I can thank Girl Scouts for multiple trips locally, from touring San Francisco in style in a limo, to a trip to Monterrey over the summer, and best yet, for sending me to Australia this summer for a four city, two week sojourn.
Beyond all the boxes of cookies, badges, trips and programs, what you get out of Girl Scouts that is most meaningful and will last a life time is the camaraderie and friendships developed along the way. Friendships developed with troop mates, to new friends from outside programs, to camp mates, to younger girls who look up to you and worship your leadership skills, are friendships that will never end.