More Than Selling Cookies – Girl Scouts Teaches Life Lessons

Our kids weren’t big joiners in the States.

I admit, they didn’t seem passionate about any one thing to push us into signing them up for a long-term commitment. We enjoyed having our nights and weekends free to have our own adventures.

When our former neighbors joined Girl Scouts, that piqued our girls interest. With our imminent move, we promised to explore troops when got settled. Since we joined a few months ago, it has helped us talk with our girls on some pretty serious topics.

Safety at home and with strangers

Throughout the daycare years, we talked about strangers and personal safety. We performed fire safety drills and talked about when to call 9-1-1.

The Girl Scout assignment for earning the safety badge pumped it up a bit.

Our girls provided diagrams of escape routes on each level of the house. They memorized phone numbers (eek, do any of us do that anymore?), checked maps for the nearest police station and pointed out exit areas in multiple stores or buildings while we were out in town.

Troop leaders encouraged discussions about the different ways people could try to lure kids away from their parents, even using other kids to gain trust. We talked about fighting back and finding safety with trusted adults should they ever find themselves in that situation.

Matt likes nothing more than being prepared, so this badge was important for him to ensure the girls were able to talk through any questions and develop action plans in emergencies.

Community service and Empathy

Our church in Maryland provided so many opportunities to serve our community that when it came time to join the efforts of the Girl Scouts, we didn’t need much convincing to participate.

They always liked being a part of community service. The main difference is they are serving with their peers. The girls learn how much their efforts, even though they’re children, can impact their community.

A recent service project included grounds clean-up at the Kinderfeld American Cemetery in Frankfurt. Until 1981, Americans who suffered the loss of a child under the age of two, and could not afford to send the remains to the States for burial, were allowed to bury their children at the site.

This cemetery includes the names of 448 children, some include the names of stillborn babies, and 176 gravestones. Each year different groups – from the Scouts to military members – make time to care for the grounds and put out bird feeders.

Upon returning from the chilly day, we talked about the loss of children and why some babies don’t get to meet their families. We had age-appropriate conversations about the pain families must feel leaving Germany with their babies buried here. And how much those families appreciate the efforts made to keep the grounds beautiful.

Car Accident Kills Girl Scouts

Brownie troop leaders sent messages to parents that they planned to have the girls sign sympathy cards for a troop in Wisconsin. The troop suffered the loss of three children and a parent volunteer after they were struck by driver during roadside clean-up project.

Broaching the subject seemed complex at first. However, kids are very perceptive and empathetic. We had a long conversation that covered:

  • the importance of being aware of their surroundings at all times
  • the dangers of drugs and other substance abuse
  • the effects substance abuse can have on the user and those they unintentionally harm
  • the unfairness and sorrow of everyone impacted by the accident

It’s scary to talk about such topics with kids who haven’t even hit double digits in their ages. But as parents, it’s our responsibility to be their sounding board when various questions arise, even with uncomfortable topics.

Girl Scouts have offered ways to help our kids understand complex topics as well as providing an atmosphere for them to be themselves.

Fun is crucial

It’s not all seriousness and work. Numerous opportunities for fun and friendship also encourage our girls to attend functions and meetings.

They look forward to seeing their friends and learning more about their roles in helping others.

Hands-on opportunities to engage their brains with activities and STEM-based projects are favorites with our girls.

They are at the perfect age for absorbing these skills and lessons so they can use them in their brilliant futures. Girl Scouts offers ways for parents maintain good communication with their kids about serious topics. As they grow, those opportunities may not be as plentiful.