Big Scout Project

Learning to Lead: Guest Blogger Kelly Henkins (Part I)

Now, in the season of gratitude that always precedes each new year, I’m grateful to share a guest blog post from Kelly Henkins. She’s a music journalist and blogger who stumbled into my music earlier this year – but she’s also a lifelong scout. Kelly was kind enough to share this beautiful and personal perspective on scouting’s impact on her life. She and I have never met, and I hope we can do something about that in 2013. Look for a follow up post (Part II) from Kelly early next year. Learn more about how you can follow Kelly at the bottom of this post…


Guest blogger Kelly Henkins

Guest blogger Kelly Henkins

Hi, my name is Kelly and I’m a Girl Scout. I love what the traditional program aspects stand for, while constantly growing with our changing world. I feel the concept in some form should be a part of every girl’s life. Although that’s not why I initially became a Girl Scout Leader, it is why I am a Lifetime Member.

Funny how you don’t see some things about your childhood until you’re much older, looking at it through someone else’s eyes. At least, that’s how it was for me. I didn’t recognize it at the time but I had a pretty screwed up childhood.  I mean, the only real babysitter I can remember was a local police officer. If he noticed my mother in a local bar on a Friday night, he figured I was home alone. He’d come to the house and we’d put my Flipper puzzle together over and over until my dad (my folks were divorced by then) could make the hour-long drive to take over. We’re talking the 1960s. Back when people minded their own business and just watched out for one another.

Fast-forward about six years. Dad is remarried, has custody of me and my stepmom is doing everything she can to turn my life around. I remember going to a couple of Brownie Girl Scout meetings where we carved potato stamps for printing with paint.

But my clearest Girl Scout memory as a child was being a Junior Girl Scout. I don’t recall cookies. What I do remember was a Bridging Ceremony. Poor as we were, I somehow had a uniform to wear to ceremony and I was so proud. Not because of the uniform but because I had one like the other girls. I belonged.

My fondest memory of that time is camping with my middle sister, Kitty. She was an over-the-road truck driver and was scheduled to be home the weekend we were to camp at Lyons Park in Lyons, CO. You could say, and I’m sure she’ll agree, that I set her up so there was no way she could get out of it without embarrassing me. (Thanks Sis!) It was during camp I learned about swishy bags, the buddy system, buddy braids and making sand candles. We moved not long after that, and I never heard about Girl Scout troops in my new area.

Move the calendar ahead five more years. I’m seventeen and living with my birth mother again. I am becoming the person my stepmom tried so hard to prevent. Suffice it to say, I would not have been a good role model for young girls. But somewhere amongst that mess in my life I met a wonderful man. Bob saw the woman in me I wanted to be. We’ve been married almost thirty years.

When we were blessed with a five-year-old little girl to raise, I knew my life was on the right track. So when she came home from school with a flyer about Brownies, I was ready to jump in and lend a hand. I quickly found out, lending a hand meant being the full on Troop Leader. As is usually the case, no one else had time. So I made a call to Kitty. She had been a Scout Leader for her daughter’s troop in Naples, Italy. If anyone could tell me what I was in for, she could. I’ll never forget how profound her words were…

“You are not just a Leader on meeting nights. There will be council meetings, leader trainings, product sales, camping trips, field trips. It takes a lot of time.”

What she didn’t tell me was how much I would learn about myself on this journey… both as a role model for the girls and through the eyes of their parents who knew the other side of me.


Part II of Kelly’s story coming in early 2013. And until then, Kelly Henkins has two blogs worth following. For you crafters out there, you’ll enjoy Kelly’s Creative Dreams, and for you Texas music fans, be sure to check out The Country Angel.

This is the last post for 2012, scouts. I hope your holidays are filled with peace, family, health, and good food. And may we all do at least one thing this holiday season to support those less fortunate than ourselves in our own cities and towns. Consider a donation to your local food bank or shelter. It’s going to get a lot colder out there before it gets warm again. See you in 2013.


11 thoughts on “Learning to Lead: Guest Blogger Kelly Henkins (Part I)

  1. What a very moving story. You demonstrated how scouting gave you some core values that have stuck with you all your life…Along with those great memories.
    ~JD Faver

  2. Hi Ladies, Wonderful post, Kelly. I love the influence Scouting had on your life. Truly one of the wonderful things it can do for a girl. And you turned out just fine!

    I never had the pleasure of being in Girl Scouts. We lived in the country and I was in 4-H. When I grew up and married, I had only sons, so I was involved in Boy Scouts (ah the cute little outfits we Den Moms used to wear LOL)

    But my granddaughter and niece love their Girl Scout experiences. I only wished I lived near enough to them to be more a part of it.

    Looking forward to reading more of your story.

  3. It sounds like your childhood was far more colorful than mine, but I do have fond memories of Girl Scouts. I was a Bluebird/Campfire Girl in elementary school, but made the switch to Girl Scouts in high school so that I would have people to go backpacking with. Now I prefer to pitch my tent close to the car (or better yet drive a motorhome), but I still love to hike and enjoy nature.

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