I became a Brownie when I was seven years old. I was in second grade and that was the earliest that you could join. That was 59 years ago. Since we needed a leader, my mother stepped up. I was nothing like my mother. She was happy, playful, creative, full of craft ideas, loved camping, the perfect Girl Scout leader. I was shy, anxious, lacked confidence in myself and my abilities. Through my scouting experiences, I became a more confident person and learned to be a leader. I found that I could learn to sew, knit, build fires, I took horseback riding lessons through a Girl Scout program and I discovered that I like to teach and that I could be a good leader of my patrol.

By the time I was in high school, I had opportunities to host foreign Scouts from Denmark, Sweden and Africa, in my home and led them on tours of New York City as an International Aide. I worked in a hospital laboratory staining lab slides and feeding research mice. I attended summer camp in a primitive camping unit where we cooked all our own meals. As a high school senior, I became a leader in my own troop with help from the parents. I became a Certified Camper and took my own troop out into the woods. This helped me to solidify my goal of becoming a teacher.
In college I worked as a Certified Camper to allow a troop with inexperienced leaders go out camping with their girls. Before I ever had my own children, I was a co-leader of a Cadette troop and taught them about the patrol system. I became a trainer for new leaders and an outdoor trainer to teach leaders to be Certified Campers. I worked at Camp Merrie-Wood in Manchester as a counselor in the summer for many years and when my own daughter was old enough, she joined me there as a camper and counselor. I was so proud of her. She also became a Certified Camper and is the best fire builder. She was a Girl Scout from Brownies to Adult, with me as her leader all the way through. When she turned 18 we both became Life Members of Girl Scouts.

As an adult, I was able to take advantage of amazing Girl Scout travel opportunities. I went to a program at Edith Macy Conference Center in New York about camping skills. Later, I was selected, with a Senior Scout, to attend a Girl Scout program in Washington D.C. where we visited the Capital to meet Barbara Kennelly the Representative from Connecticut and to the White House to meet Nancy Reagan, the President’s wife. It was an amazing experience. We were treated like VIP’s.

I was also selected as one of two women to represent the United States at a young women’s international conference at Our Cabana, a Girl Guides World Center in Mexico. I traveled to New York City for orientation and was hosted by a family in New York, just like I had hosted three international scouts when I was in high school. I became friends with amazing women from thirty different countries, toured Mexico City, Cuernavaca and Taxco and visited Teotihuacan to climb the Pyramid of the Moon. I learned so many new songs and games that I brought back to my council and learned about Scouting around the world.
A few years later, I was selected by our Girl Scout Council to represent the Girl Scouts of the Hartford CT area to the National Girl Scout Council, all the way across the country in Portland Oregon. This was such a moving experience. To be in a huge stadium with thousands of women and girls from all over the country and the world, was awe inspiring. After the Council some of us went to see the volcano, Mt. St. Helens, by helicopter.

My Girl Scout trips were highlights in my life and experiences I would never have been able to have on my own.
So what has being a Girl Scout meant to me. I have gained confidence, learned to speak in public, learned that I can make valuable contributions to the lives of others and to the world. I am a leader. I achieved my goal and have had a wonderful career as a Special Education teacher and I have been a leader in many organizations. Thanks to my mother’s and many other women’s willingness to be Girl Scout leaders, my life was changed forever. I have been happy to be able to have that influence and bring opportunities to other young people.

I hope that women will continue to step forward to be Girl Scout leaders and camp counselors, to take advantage of all the training and to help the next generation to grow and thrive as Scouts. Girl Scouts grows leaders.