I’m so happy to be hosting guest blogger Stacy Lieder for today’s post. This is seriously cool story. I suspect Stacy’s got a lot of good stories up her sleeve, and I’ll do my best to pry them out of her. Enjoy! — Jean
Second grade. That was my introduction to the world of scouting. I had wanted to be a Girl Scout Brownie in first grade, but there were no troops available in my area. When second grade rolled around, having heard the tales of wonder spun by my older sisters, I really wanted to join. Again, there was no room, but SuperMom stepped up to become a troop leader, again, as she had done for each of my two older sisters. And that started me on an adventure that not only shaped my life growing up, but continues to do so today.
Girl Scouts, with their myriad opportunities and activities, are constantly exposed to new things, and through these things we learn a very valuable lesson: we are not going to be good at everything we try to do. In this era of specialization and perfectionism — when people tend to do ONLY those things they can do well, and avoid trying things that might cause them to “fail” — this is an incredibly valuable lesson.
Since there are always going to be things in life we have to do that we aren’t very good at doing, learning this early makes for much happier, well-adjusted children and adults. After all, how we deal with “failure” is AT LEAST as important as how we deal with success.
It’s funny, but some of my fondest memories of scouting come from times when things didn’t quite go as expected…or went completely wrong. Like when we had to contend with a severe storm and tornadoes at our Neighborhood camping weekend . Or when we evacuated Cadette Event because of flooding.
But one of my most vivid memories comes from a trip to the Seamen’s Mission at the Port of Houston.
For several years, my troop made care packages at Christmastime for the many merchant sailors for whom Houston was a port of call during the holidays. These care-packages were simple: shoe boxes, wrapped in bright wrapping paper, and packed with soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, cards, combs, socks and other personal necessities that might be needed, and might bring comfort, far from home.
One year, my mother took me and three other troop members with her to make the delivery. We visited the mission, and we took a boat tour of the Port of Houston. When we reached our maroon 1983 Delta 88 Royale in the parking lot late in the afternoon, we discovered that Mom had inadvertently locked her keys in the car.
In today’s modern world, she’d likely have taken out her cell phone and called for roadside assistance, someone (probably male) would drive up and use a slim jim to open then car. And what lesson would we young, impressionable girls have learned? That we are incapable of dealing with the unexepected, and need someone to come rescue us when we are in need? Well, my mom was NOT going to let us be helpless girls, waiting for prince charming to come along and save us.
Instead of looking for a pay phone, and calling my dad (who was at work, over an hour away), Mom said this to us: “Alright girls, look around the parking lot and find some coathangers. We’re going to learn how to get into a car when you lock your keys in.”
So that’s what we did. We found a couple of hangers, and she had us bend them so we had a hook. The she put each of us at a window, and had each of us try to thread the hook through the weather-stripping, grab the door lock, and unlock the door. And it wasn’t good enough for just one of us to succeed; the exercise wasn’t over until each one of us had successfully unlocked a door. And we all did.
I look back very fondly on that episode. Mom didn’t just take what could have been a disaster and turn it into a fun activity, as well as a teachable moment: Mom showed us that we could, and can, take care of ourselves; Mom showed us how to remain cool in times of crisis; but most of all, Mom showed us that we don’t have to sit around and wait to be rescued.
To me, that is the essence of the Girl Scout experience, and the embodiment of the Girl Scout Mission: to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
Experiences like this are why I stayed in Girl Scouts through high school graduation, why I was a Girl Scout camp counselor in college, and why I am an adult volunteer today. My mother, and so many other amazing women who have guided me over the years, have lived the Girl Scout mission, and I am thankful for their legacy every day.
Jean here again… Didn’t I tell you that was a great story?!? Go mom, go. And I love the message Stacy offers in the second paragraph.
If you have a scout story (boy or girl) you’d be willing to share, you’ve got a platform right here. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks — Jean