Girl Scouts of Greater New York
It’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t a Girl Scout. Below is my badge sash. The fact that I still have it, and the fact that I have it so close at hand, tells you a lot. The sash is a bit ratty-looking after all these years, and most of the discs I earned for each year of scouting have long ago fallen off. But the memories made and the confidence I gained will remain for a lifetime.
I was a member of Troop 1210, part of the Northwest Georgia Council of Girl Scouts. We chose as our symbol the Cherokee Rose – the state flower of Georgia. Each badge represents not just an accomplishment in completing the requirements, but an exploration, a chance to delve into a subject and see if/how it excited me. I still know what most of these badges were and marvel at how many relate to what became my lifelong passion: sewing and fiber arts. Below is the sewing badge (scissor one) and the needlework badge (embroidery), and if you look closely at the dressmaker badge (mannequin) you’ll see that one is actually pinned onto my sash! I guess even then I was time-pressured.
Girl Scouting has changed a lot over the years. They don’t wear sashes or uniforms with caps. Badges come in a variety of sizes and get affixed to vests. What isn’t different though, is scouting's commitment to give girls opportunities to explore, to experience new things, and to dream – not the 'impossible dream' as the old song goes, but an attainable one.
The proceeds from my first children’s book, "I Don’t Want To Sleep Tonight," were all dedicated to the NYC Girl Scouts, for whom I worked for many years. Girl Scouting does such a great job. It introduces girls to experiences in STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math. If the first step to dreaming of career is to imagine yourself in it, well - we get girls into businesses to spend the day and see if it feels ‘right’ to them. I hosted a bunch of girls from the Bronx at Inside Edition and was thrilled to see so many of them asking insightful questions that indicated they were giving serious thought to a career in the media. We have a Girl Scout Scholars program that gets girls on college campuses like Barnard College – where young ladies see they ‘do’ fit in on campus and thus aspire to become the first in their family to go to college. And yes, we sell cookies and go camping. I will never forget hearing one of our girls from a rough neighborhood talk about how terrified she was by the sound of crickets! The backfire of a truck or crackle of a gun – that she was accustomed to!
I became a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater New York Council of Girl Scouts in 1989, less than two years after I moved to New York City. I cycled off a few years ago, after nearly twenty years of service on the Board – every group needs new blood. After emceeing so many of their fundraising breakfasts and dinners, I knew they needed a new face on the podium. Our Centennial Gala was especially sweet, as these pictures from the talented Kelly Marsh attest. We honored a number of exceptional women for their achievements, including one ‘Future Woman of Distinction,’ a girl scout whose about to enter college. As I always have, I pulled out my trusty badge sash which happily still fits! To my surprise, the girls presented ME with a stunning bouquet of roses – which I promptly dismantled and shared with the scouts who were present that evening. As the old promise said, “…to help other people at all times….” – and isn’t making a little girl smile just something one should do?