When I sat down to write about all that Girl Scouts has meant to me, I was surprised at how hard it was to start. It didn’t seem possible to filter through all that I had done and choose just a few important events. Every picture I looked at brought with it a swarm of memories. Every patch that I’d earned had a novel’s worth of stories to tell.

Girl Scouts has given me so much more than just patches and memories. It has given me more than skills, camping trips, and cookies. More than all these things, Girl Scouts has given me confidence in who I am and all that I can accomplish.

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Throughout my years as a Daisy, Brownie, and Junior, Girl Scouts taught me to explore new things. Each meeting we would earn a new patch or go on a field trip and learn something new. Thanks to Girl Scouts, I discovered my interests in music, cooking, and exploring the outdoors. Girl Scouts provided me a place to try new things, learn skills, and discover who I am.

As I grew, my Girl Scout experience grew with me. We started to talk less about what we could do in Girl Scouts and more what we could do as Girl Scouts. Somewhere along the way, my Sisters and I had found a sense of empowerment, and that sense of empowerment changed everything.

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Rather than being told what to do like at school, Girl Scouts gave us the opportunity to take control. We decided as a troop what badges to earn and how to earn them, organized our own service and Take Action projects, and planned our own outings and camping trips. Girl Scouts provided me a place where I could be accountable for my learning and experiences.

I became empowered to speak up about what mattered. Girl Scouts was a place where I knew what I said would be heard and wouldn’t be taken lightly. I found a place where I could express my opinions and ideas and not be dismissed as a kid. Having even one place where I trusted that my voice mattered taught me to keep speaking up and to never back down from what I believed in.

GS friendship circle

It gave me faith that someday my voice would be heard in the rest of the world. Just as important, I learned how to listen to others and to value their opinions and beliefs no matter how greatly they may have differed from my own. In speaking up, I learned the power of acceptance. In listening, I found the importance of being heard.

Even more than giving me a place to be in control or to express myself, Girl Scouts gave me a place to just simply be. After a long week at school, I couldn’t wait to unwind with my Sisters at our Sunday night meetings.

GS Niles Board meeting

Being in an all-female environment I never felt the pressure to “perform” or to be anything other than myself. Our meetings were a place where we could talk about anything from sexism to s’mores and from Take Action Projects to tough times at school. It was at these meetings that I learned to be confident, for it was at Girl Scouts that I always felt accepted for just being me.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Girl Scouts taught me to be a person of integrity, confidence, honesty, and character. Yes, I learned how to sew and babysit, but I also learned how to change oil, pitch a tent, and save a life. Thanks to Girl Scouts, I learned how to change the world in big and small ways and to believe that I could accomplish anything. Because of Girl Scouts, I am a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker and leader) , and thanks to Girl Scouts, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Katie Daehler has been a Girl Scout for the past 13 years and is now a lifetime member. She is a Freshman at Northwestern University, and is working on starting a Daisy troop to continue her Girl Scout experience as a volunteer. 

To learn more about Girl Scouts, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

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