By: Carleen Lattin, Troop Leader and National Council Delegate in Elmira
Girls have always encountered various stereotypes and misconceptions subtly. Just last night as I was with my Girl Scout Daisies, we were going over the “Courageous and Strong” petal, I asked girls what they thought of when I asked about the word strong. They talked about animals, men, things like that. I asked if girls/women could be strong and I got a mixed response but one emphatically said “No.”
Girls today still feel today that they are not strong, nor could be strong and in Girl Scouts we show them that yes, you are and can be strong. That being strong is not always about physical strength. I shared my brief story to them of my days working at Wal-Mart unloading a truck with dairy products, the pallet was taller than me and very heavy. The driver, who was from the south, automatically assumed that I couldn’t and wouldn’t help pull the pallets off the truck. He blatantly even said to me. I had done that before, so it was no before, so his jaw dropped wen I helped unload the truck with no problem. In that situation, I showed physical strength. There have been other situations of other types of strength I have displayed but we talked about how other ways the girls have been strong.
In other situations, we will continue to tie in being strong into other activities into other petals and other projects. In general however, the Girl Scout program build these skills and values without the girls even realizing it. This is the power that girls learn every time we meet.
The other things I have encountered in girls and adults is that speaking up won’t do any good. Some girls think that if they don’t speak up, that they will not be heard. I had a Girl Scout Cadette who always had good ideas but always felt that she was not heard. I made it a point to make sure that we took into consideration some of her ideas and we actually did use them.
As far as the adults are concerned, for example, we would have not had the discussion of outdoor programming brought to the discussion of GSUSA if we did not speak up. Girls are learning that if they do not speak up, then nothing can be changed. How do we know if things need to be changed if we don’t know that things need to be changed or want to be changed? These are how Take Action projects come into action.
Girl Scouts is a great platform to make sure that we empower the girls to take anything negative and turn it into a positive. I see it daily, every time I meet with my troops. Every time I go to an event. We instill this in our girls as young as Girl Scout Daisies. Nurture it every time and the girls learn to be strong and caring young ladies. I have seen the shiest girls blossom, time after time after time. I have seen them speak up. Whether it is on behalf of their friends or school or whether it is on behalf of their communities. If we teach the girls to never remain silent, the world is in for a big change.
I love my Girl Scouts!