S'more please: Girls Scouts aren't so dorky

November 19, 2009 — by Sophia Cooper

Senior Sophia Cooper

In first grade, it was the coolest thing ever. Everyone wanted to join and be a part of it, and you were uncool in the elementary schools if you weren't a member. Now, it's laughed upon and considered dorky to participate in.

Oh yes, I'm talking about Girl Scouts.

The coolness factor of being a scout wore off quickly in middle school. In a time when girls are so concerned with what others think of them, being a member of an organization that has brown, green, and tan vests as their uniform isn't exactly an appealing concept.

But what the other girls missed when they quit Girl Scouts is something that they will regret forever. They missed out on building friendships while eating melted marshmallows, attending a NASA conference to brainstorm the future of space programs with delegates from all over the world and having the pride of telling people, "Oh yeah, I learned that in Girl Scouts."

Life-long Friends

Twelve years ago, my Girl Scout troop, Troop #473, bonded over making blueberry muffins in orange peels on Samantha Clark 's back porch. Sleepovers in Jordan Leonard 's backyard were the extent of our camping experiences, until we took it up a notch and went beach camping for a weekend. That was when the real fun began.

We did the usual camping stuff: burning potatoes in soup cans, making brownies from scratch, singing camp songs. But when it was time to head to our tents and crash in our sleeping bags, the sugar high from the brownies kicked in.

Personally, I never knew that third-graders had so much to gossip about. Yet that first night of heart-to-hearts led to many years of Kiss, Kill or Marry in the tents, four-hour conversations on road trips, and high-energy pool parties.

I had the opportunity to be one of 13 girls from the Northern California council to attend the National Girl Scout
Convention in Indianapolis last fall. Throughout my six days with those girls, I formed bonds that with four of them who I know consider four of my best friends. Even though we live all over the Bay Area, the friendship we made from being on our own that week and having a blast remained. Now, we've grown up and moved onto Boston for college, Trinidad for two years, and remained in Marin, Sunnyvale and Saratoga. But we still talk at least once a week and keep each other updated on everything we do.

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities

Girl Scouting isn't just selling cookies in front of Safeway and looking cute in our vests (and yes, we always look cute). Council events provide girls with opportunities to do absolutely everything.

"Girl Scouts Save the Bay" is a program in which girls from all over the Bay Area come together and work to clean various parts of the Bay, including docks, water shed and plant life.

"Lead the Way" is an annual, girl-planned conference for high schoolers, teaching girls the importance of leadership and life skills. Shannon Galvin, a junior, won an essay contest and got a trip to Europe, an opportunity presented to her through Girl Scouts. The Northern California council's robotics team, called the "Space Cookies," is ranked nationally and one of the top all-girl robots teams.

These are all things that aren't available through most organizations. We may be dorks, but Girl Scouting presents us with opportunities and experiences, such as my trip to Indianpolis, that empower us and give us memories to last a lifetime.
Been there, done that

You need to light a campfire? Ask a Girl Scout. You need to fix your car? Ask a Girl Scout. You need someone to plan a weekend event? Ask a Girl Scout.

While the girls who dropped out of scouts were hanging out with friends, we were working on badges and setting up tents. As my years in scouting come to a close, I realize that the past 12 years of meetings and award ceremonies and "On my honor, I will try," were all worth it. I wouldn't trade my Girl Scout vest for the world.

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