My daughter has been a Girl Scout for more than half her life. Since she’s graduating high school soon, it’s coming to an end. It’s bittersweet, and I figured this was as good a place as any to document that journey.
Katie started in Girl Scouts when she was in the 1st grade. I wasn’t working at the time and there weren’t any active troops in the area so I volunteered to be the troop leader. It is in the family, after all. My grandmother was a lifetime Girl Scout and my mom was my troop leader when I was a girl. I just loved the idea of Katie being a fourth generation Scout so I wanted to give her that opportunity as soon as possible.
When I was girl, Daisies weren’t a thing. But now we had kindergarten and first graders in their little blue smocks and sashes, having fun at meetings, earning their “petals” (the Daisy badges), and hopefully learning life skills. We got to end the year with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge.
Partway through her first year I was finally employed again so could not continue on leading the troop into Brownies. We were lucky to find a wonderful troop with a very experienced leader. Katie was with them for her two years as a Brownie.
When Katie was bridging to Juniors, that leader ended up moving away so we were once again on the hunt for a troop. In an effort to not leave the girls high and dry, her leader arranged for two lovely ladies to come by, introduce themselves, and see if any of our girls wanted to join theirs. It just so happened that, at the same time, one of the moms from her current troop volunteered to take up the reins so we stuck with what we had. That mom was incredibly organized. Until she wasn’t. As someone who has OCD, I recognize it when I see it. Some things were planned down to the smallest detail, while others completely fell through the cracks. That year waffled between being wonderful (going to a hot air balloon festival, for example!) and being a little frustrating. The leader tried her best, but decided not to continue. To be honest, we were not heartbroken about it. I wanted Katie to have a more stable troop environment so was interested in finding another for her.
The mom of one of her good friends in the troop felt the same and happened to know someone who knew someone who had an existing troop. Lo and behold, it was the same women who had come to visit the previous year! It was kismet. And so it was then, in Katie’s second year as a Junior, that she joined the troop that would become her family and take her all the way to where she is today.
I remember the first time Katie went to an activity to essentially meet the new troop. It was at the recreation center at her elementary school and was fairy-themed, so instantly won her heart. That friend from her other troop joined as well, and I think it was a relief for her to be with someone that she knew.
The second event we went to was in a park for a picnic. The girls got to go geocaching, which was all the rage at the time. They had a blast. And I got to get to know the troop leader and her husband a little more. They’ve since become some of our very best friends.
Aside from being amazing people, the volunteers of this troop were amazing leaders. Very experienced – they’d already had the troop for a few years before we joined. They had meetings and cookie sales down to a science. We ended up being a multi-level troop, so at one point had over 50 girls, ranging from Daisies on up to Ambassadors. It was a lot, but they had assistant leaders for each age group, making it a little easier.
Katie has experienced so much as a Scout. They’ve gone camping multiple times, had a sleepover at the zoo, learned sales and business skills during cookie season, earned badges and patches, and learned about Scouting in other countries with Thinking Day. She’s enjoyed archery, canoeing, photography, astronomy, and so much more.
This summer they’re having an end-of-year celebration and she’ll be bridging out of Scouts. She made it all the way to the end – something not a lot of girls choose to do. I know I’m going to be an emotional wreck. I am just so happy that she made that decision way back in the 1st grade to give Scouting a try, and I was available to lead her first ever troop. It’s been such a big part of her life.
She may decide to continue as a volunteer once she graduates, but our troop is significantly smaller now. Our original leaders have moved on since their kids have graduated. (Although one stuck it out to this year since her daughter was volunteering. And she wanted to see Katie and a few other girls through to the end, for which I am so grateful.) After this year most of the troop will be no more, other than the leader of the Cadettes who will continue on as long as her daughter wants to keep Scouting.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m so grateful to Scouting. I know Katie is, too. And if she ever has a daughter, I hope the tradition continues.