If you never were a Girl Scout (or Girl Guide in Canada) your only experiences with the organization probably begin and end with cookies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, they are really good cookies! But for those of us who were Girl Scouts in our youth and/or have daughters that are in scouts, we know there’s so much more to it than those tasty cookies. A recent survey from the Girls Scouts of America states that “approximately one in every two adult women in the U.S. has at some point been a member of Girl Scouts”. Since we are a network of women, I was curious about our member’s involvement in Girl Scouts/Girl Guides.
We polled One2One Network members and found that roughly half of those who responded had been a Girl Scout (or Girl Guide), a bit more than the national average. Of those who responded “yes” to being in scouts, about 48% were involved for 3-4 years (the national average showed 4 years from the Girl Scout survey). Also more than half of those who were in scouts are still involved in some kind of community service and around 75% finished college (which was higher than the national average of 38%).
We also had several members who completed a more in depth interview about their scouting experiences. We asked them:
- Do you have any particularly outstanding memories from your time in scouts?
- What was your favorite thing about being in scouts?
- Do you feel your quality of life is better because of being involved in scouting?
- Do you still keep in touch with anyone from your troop?
- If you have children, are they involved in scouts (girl or boy)? If they’re too young to be involved yet, is it something you would like to see them be involved in?
The outstanding memories centered mainly around camping experiences and troop activities. Lisa C. said, “One event that sticks with me was a Lip Sync Contest at the local mall. We all got dressed up and sang “My Boyfriend’s Back” in front of the local community. We had dance steps and everything. It was fun to preform at the age, when you didn’t really care what others thought yet.” And Amanda M. said, “I remember feeling proud in my uniform and that I remembered the promise!”
According to the Girl Scouts survey, alumnae “fondly recall their experiences in Girl Scouting. Fun, friendships, and crafts are the most frequently cited positive aspects of Girl Scouting.” Our respondents answers to “favorite thing about being in scouts” echoed that answer as well as adding “camping experiences” to the list. Lisa H. said, “My favorite part about being in Scouts was the camping trips! My family never went camping, so it was a great experience for me.” Sara M. recalls, “I liked it when we sang together — we all loved “Who Stole the Cookies…” song & game.”
On the “Do you feel your quality of life is better because of being involved in scouting?” question, the overwhelming majority of respondents answered, “Yes.” Again, referencing the national survey, Girl Scout alumnae say,
They’ve received concrete benefits from Girl Scouts, such as being exposed to nature and having a safe place to try new things
Actively recognize the influence of Girl Scouting on their lives. Three quarters of alumnae report that the Girl Scout experience has had a positive impact on their lives in general.
Some notable answers to that question on our interviews:
Anne P. “Absolutely. Through the badges that were skill- or career-oriented, it showed me I could be something else besides nurse or teacher. I have a business degree, and I think cookie sales helped me learn learning goal setting and marketing.”
Cori F. “…I use things I learned as a scout. My students think it’s strange when I start talk about using nature instead of a GPS but it’s a skill that I learned on a weekend trip that I’ll never forget.”
Lisa C. “Girl Scouts helped me build empathy and be more accepting of people. Learning that no matter how different people are, we all have our greatness and quality that is needed, that alone is a priceless lesson in life and learned young so it carried with me in life and passed on to my children.”
Jessica J. “Absolutely. When I was younger I resented my mom for putting me through scouts because it didn’t feel like the “cool” thing to do. But now I cannot express how much I appreciate the experience. It has given me knowledge, understanding and appreciation. It has also helped me to get great jobs throughout the years.”
Over 60% of our interviewees still keep in touch with at least one person from their Girl Scout days. A little under half of them have children currently participating in scouts (Girl and/or Boy Scouts) and the same number either don’t have children yet or their children are still too young but they would like to see them involved in the future.
Where you involved in Girl Scouts/Girl Guides as a child? We’d love to hear your answers to any or all of our interview questions in the comments!
photo credits: ‘cookie booth’ (Malia Carden), ‘scouts in uniform’ from RDECOM on Flickr, ‘scouts on parade’ from Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr