Monday, November 14, 2011
The picture here at the top of the screen is my staff tie from the second year that I worked at Tohi. (The "W" pin stands for Wolf, which was my camp name. And those of you who know me, know that this name does fit quite well, in many different ways. Leaders don't go by their real names at camp, this creates a bit of separation between the girls and the leaders, who are often not much older than the girls...) On it I have my Brownie pin, my WAGGS pin, my GSUSA pin and my 10-year pin, clockwise from upper left. They all mean something special to me.
Brownies were a wonderful three years. My best friend's mom was my leader. We did so many fun things and learned so much and explored so much as well. We went camping, learned to cook and to cook over a stove. We sewed our own vests (with much help and patience from my mom and some other moms). We sang songs, learned about other cultures and the culture of Girl Scouts. We made friends and learned how to navigate in a social setting outside of family or school. I will always remember my Brownie years with fondness.
WAGGS is the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. This is the greater body that GSUSA (Girl Scouts of the USA) belong to. This pin ties me to girls and women all over the world. I don't know if Daisy ever envisioned the Girl Scout movement would ever become as big and far-flung as it has, but I suspect that she is more than pleased that it has.
My 10-year pin is a major accomplishment. This isn't just any 10-year pin. You can only get this one if you've been a girl member for 10 years. It doesn't matter how many years you spend as an adult volunteer, if you didn't spend 10 years as a girl member, you won't get this pin. The only other things I've stuck with for that long is school in general, photography and my current job. I'm still not 100% sure why I've been here 11 years now, but I am.
Oh, that little bar on the tail, that's my CIT pin. I earned that as a Councilor In Training back when I was still in high school.
So, that's what is on my staff tie, but why am I thankful for it? I'm thankful for all the ups and downs I went through as a girl member. There were a few years I thought about quitting, but I kept going back "just to check it out" and I couldn't leave. Mostly that was in 5th through 7th or 8th grades, when I still wasn't sure how my square peg fit into this round hole called Pennsylvania. But then I started getting leadership opportunities. Most of them given to me by the other girls in my troop! These are girls who wouldn't always give me the time of day at school, but at Girl Scouts, thought I was good enough, smart enough and talented enough to lead them. How could I turn that down? So, I'm thankful for the leadership opportunities that I was given. I learned a lot through the years. I'm thankful for having a safe place to be me, to figure out who I am and how I fit into the larger world. I had a place where all of us were equal and nothing was impossible. I was surrounded by wise and caring women who made each of us feel special and, yes, would take us to task if we were not being the brightest or best behaved that we could be. I had strong examples to follow outside of my family. So, yes, there are many reasons why I'm thankful for all the time, energy, effort, blood, sweat and tears that that strip of cloth and handful of pins represent.
I'm thankful for where and how I got that tie as well. I earned every sweat stain and dirt splotch on that thing. Being a camp counselor is hard. But it is so worth it in the long run. At least for me it was. The rewards at the end of a long, hard week with home-sick campers and rain and a burnt cookout on Wednesday night were worth it. The hugs, the smiles, the laughs and the "I'll never forget you!"s are priceless. Every girl that came through my units taught me something, hopefully they learned as much from me as I learned from them. It may sound cliche, but it's true.
Anyhow, tomorrow night is our third meeting. We'll actually have a couple of new girls coming and I'm so excited about that. I really think this troop is about to get going in a big way and we're going to be off on some grand adventures and learning lots and lots together. I'm so excited and thankful for the opportunity to have these girls in my life and for the leaders that made such an impression in my life.
I will never forget you Nancy Thompson, Rita Bush, Lynn Snyder and Janet Watson just to name a few. Thank you so very much for all you taught me, now I can pass on that wisdom and power to a new generation.
Peace to all and may you have something, or someone who you can learn from.