I believe in the power of the Girl Scout movement. Like a linchpin, the Girl Scouts connects girls to an array of resources that will shape them into our future leaders, entrepreneurs, and scientists. We are so much more than just a box of cookies.
I have experienced firsthand the benefits girls receive when they become Girl Scouts. As a Girl Scout Daisy in kindergarten, I didn’t know what awaited me as I grew older through the program. When I finished seventh grade, I thought I was through wearing the vest and selling cookies. After all, I had camped, I had earned badges, and I had traveled.
When I told my grandmother of my plans to quit, she was not angry nor was she disappointed. She merely suggested that I register as an Independent Girl Member (IGM), so I could become involved in other ways. The best decision I ever made as a twelve-year old was to remain a Girl Scout Cadette.
From a young age, Girl Scouting instills values in girls like honesty, fairness, responsibility, courage, respect, and so much more. I learned how to be assertive yet respectful and learned I have a voice that needs to be used for those who cannot speak for themselves. The organization has also taught me how to be a leader, not a dictator or autocrat, but a leader who is open to everyone’s ideas and who puts other’s needs before their own. The most humbling thing for me is being able to say, “I made a difference in someone’s life today.”
What has been the most meaningful experience throughout my thirteen years as a Girl Scout has been being able to be a role model for younger girls. Serving on the planning team for our council’s annual meeting for several years has allowed me to set an example for the younger girls. I want them to know that there are meaningful leadership opportunities for them when they grow older, beyond selling cookies.
By earning the Gold Award, the highest award possible for a Girl Scout, I have demonstrated how girls can make a difference in their community. When people hear the words “Girl Scout,” their minds should not automatically jump to Samoas or Tagalongs, instead, a picture of a young woman standing up and speaking in front of a crowd of 400 should emerge.
Yes, I do participate in the largest bake sale in the United States and let me clear, the cookie sale benefits girls, their troops and helps fund their community service projects. But this is not what defines me as a Girl Scout Ambassador. I have dared to go beyond the stereotype of a cute Girl Scout Daisy going door-to-door selling Thin Mints. When people look at me in uniform, I want them to see a strong, confident, and accomplished leader who will make the world a better place.
Kaylin Smith is a Gold Award Girl Scout who has been involved in Girl Scouting for more than 13 years. Today, she is a student at Arizona State University pursuing a degree in chemical engineering. For more information about Girl Scouting in your community, visit www.girlscoutsaz.org.