I’ll admit it- I was a little hurt when I recently wrote a blog post for Global Conversations, a new collaborative project put together by Girl Guiding UK and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, only to have it edited without my knowledge or consent. It turned out okay in the final version, but it’s not the same post I originally wrote. So, in the spirit of having my say, here is the post I intended to write. I hope you like it!
Be a Sister to Every Girl Scout
On learning respect in WAGGGS
When I was twelve years old, my mixed age Girl Scout troop went winter camping. We slept in the lodge at Timbercrest, our council’s camp in Western New York, but we spent most of our time outside playing in the snow. One morning, I had the opportunity to help teach cross country skiing to the younger members of my troop. I wasn’t the most confident instructor at the beginning, but by the end of the trail I felt proud not only of my abilities as a skier, but of my abilities as a teacher as well. I was surprised by how easy it was for me to figure out what the younger girls were doing wrong and how to tell them to fix it.
After a long morning of teaching, I was ready for something different. My fellow Cadette Girl Scouts and I decided to go sledding. As we started getting ready, the Brownies and Juniors noticed that we were going out and wanted to come along. This was not what we had envisioned. Being twelve, we wanted to hang out with our friends without having to include the “little” kids, and we weren’t afraid to say so. Our troop leader could have let us fight it out or simply ordered us to include everyone, but instead she drew us aside and talked to us about the Girl Scout Law. Two of the tenets of the Girl Scout Law, she reminded us, are to “respect myself and others” and to “be a sister to every Girl Scout.” We were appropriately ashamed, and we let the younger girls join our sledding. When all was said and done, though, we were forced to truly think about Girl Scouts that day and what the Law meant to us.
Ten years later, I am still learning valuable lessons from Girl Scouting. I am currently working a four-month volunteer term at Sangam, the WAGGGS World Centre in India. Here, I see the Guiding Law in practice every day. To think that the original Law stipulated that “a Guide is a friend to all and a sister to every other Guide” is sometimes a bit overwhelming! Do I really have to be a friend to all? Even the rickshaw driver who tried to rip me off yesterday? Even the little girl I watched pull up her skirts and poop right in public on the side of a city road? The Guiding law says I do. Do I have to be a sister to every Girl Scout? Even my roommate who kept me awake the other night because she was chatting online with some friends in Brazil? Yes. Being a Girl Scout means respecting each other enough to put away our gripes and celebrate our differences.
What I respect most, though, is this organization to which I belong. I am proud that WAGGGS aims “to enable girls and young women to develop their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world”. I am proud that GSUSA “builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.” Responsible citizens who make the world a better place, in my estimation, are people who respect one another.