My daughters Sophia and Maeve are 4th generation girl scouts. I made it up to Cadettes, my mother was a Brownie, and my grandmother earned the top award at the time--she was born in 1917, so that's Girl Scouting: The Early Years right there. And I'm no expert, but I have 7 years experience as a girl and 4 years (starting #5) as a leader. No, wait--I had another year as a leader when I taught in the city schools. Thirteen years experience and 3rd generation and I think I have something to say about Girl Scouting and what I think the whole point is.
So what is Girl Scouting for? Just my humble opinion, but GS is for girls. It is to provide a source of information and experiences for girls that they would not find at home, school, or on the playground.
Girl Scouting is for watching Kerri (not her real name or anyone else in this entry) make a table with her arm and bow, bring an arrow up and firing and hitting the target the first time. Seeing that look on her face, not enjoyment or happiness, but satisfaction.
Girl Scouting is for Hannah to try soy for the first time in a curry she made herself in a church basement kitchen. And declare, "it's not really that bad."
Girl Scouting is for experimenting in a safe, but not sterile, environment. It is for sleeping out of doors for the first time in your life next to a girl whose family camps 4 times a year around the country and you're both scared and then tomorrow, you'll both have to clean the ET and later, after hopefully washing your hands, you'll learn how to make sausage gravy over a fire because that's what your troop decided it wanted for breakfast.
Girl Scouting is for riding home from a camping trip and hearing the leaders in front rehash the weekend and vent about the frustrating camp supervisor who made you pick up each and every hole punch circle on the ground. The wet ground. About learning what is right and what is correct and sometimes how they aren't the same thing.
Girl Scouting is for doing things with adult women who aren't your mom, who know things that might be interesting, who are authority figures but don't give you grades or make you clean your room.
Girl Scouting is for Bree negotiating with her mother about which camping trip she'll try on her own and which one her mother will go on with her.
Girl Scouting is for Antoinette, Paula, and Jamie to visit the country for the first time ever. For free.
Girl Scouting is for making soup. And collecting items for the food pantry. And singing songs. And getting along with girls you don't always spend time with. Or frankly, even like very much.
Girl Scouting is for learning leadership skills and arguing your case. And being a graceful loser. It's for voting and consensus building and remaining positive.
Girl Scouting is for planning events with two adults sitting a a table behind you shrugging and saying, "what do you want to do? How will we do it?"
Girl Scouting is for learning how to tie a clove hitch even though you don't yet understand why, and then being handed the clothesline at camp and the orders to find a place and hang it. You don't use a clove hitch but it stays up anyway. And Mrs. Wissinger sighs and says "maybe we'll work on the knots again later."
Girl Scouting is for three or four chaperones on a camping trip to sit up late at the pavilion waiting for girls to go to sleep, and enjoying each other's company.
Girl Scouting is for playing new games and going to interesting field trips and eating picnic lunches. Girl Scouting is learning how to use a compass and a knife and how to lay a fire. In the rain. Girl Scouting is for asking questions and having them answered. For learning to control yourself in conversations with a large group. For learning how to clean up after yourself. For learning how to have fun without anyone's feelings getting hurt. For learning how to fix your mistakes when that doesn't work out the way you meant, or maybe it was the way you meant but you know you shouldn't have.
That is what Girl Scouting is for.