How Girl Scouting Shaped My Life
Today I look back and realize that in Girl Scouts I learned to be a leader; I learned to give back to my community; I learned the value of accepting all people; I learned to help people at all times. My scouting experiences were so poignant that as executive director of The Discovery Center of the Southern Tier, I instigated and welcomed the inclusion of scout programming on all levels of our program plan. That scout focus is growing significantly.
My scout experience began in 1942 when I became a Brownie. How proud I was to wear my uniform, the Brownie pin and beanie, and become a part of a group that included many friends and very happy experiences. I learned quickly the song that includes “something in my pocket that belongs across my face” and made it a priority for that “great big Brownie smile” to shine on my face at all times.
Our Brownie troop focused on good citizenship: we spent time making things for hospitalized children and visiting elderly people. This process of giving back to the community at such an early age became the benchmark of my life and is why my career path has been so meaningful and exciting for me. Most of my employment has been in the arts—including volunteer coordinator and director of education for Roberson Museum and Science Center, executive director of the Tioga County Arts Council and executive director of the Discovery Center of the Southern Tier. I can honestly say that my work is influenced by the values I learned through Girl Scout experiences.
Those values came during my Brownie experience at camp where I learned the values of sharing, working together, having compassion for others, and being a willing hand in the camp agenda. I learned about the environment, about compromise and about being a friend to all and a sister to every other Girl Scout. Learning to be inclusive was a deep camp experience.
When I moved on to Intermediate Girl Scouts my mother became a troop leader. We were busy and it was during WWII. We were sewing for the troops, knitting afghans, preparing boxes to ship, writing . . . all of this preparing me to do good things for others. Also we were focused on a children’s day nursery and we went there to read to children and assist with crafts. The Day Nursery Association was located in a section of town known for its low income level, so we learned about hardships and were able to bring good days to these children. Meanwhile my mother produced a spectacular play for our troop and this only increased my art spirit and my understanding of the need for art in the world.
Scouting, school and church made my life very full. This remains true today. All the values that I learned as a Girl Scout have become parts of my daily life and I do my best to make the world a better place.