By Zerline Hughes
My girl isn’t as heavily involved or invested in as many things as the boy. Sometimes I feel badly about that. He’s been playing the saxophone for about three or four years, he’s nearing a black belt in karate after six years studying the martial art, and this summer, he celebrates four years being a “Little” in the Big Brother program.
In comparison, the girl is finicky and fickle. Or maybe choosy, is the better-sounding word. She’s dabbled in the guitar and violin, but shows no great interest. She’s amazing at swimming, but I had to fight with her this winter to get her back into D.C. Junior Wave training after a six-month hiatus. She’s a fantastic artist, but I struggle finding an affordable (aka free) program that she can truly dedicate herself to.
The one thing she loves, sticks to and makes sure I’m aware of regularly, is her Girl Scout meetings and events. Just last fall, she bridged from Brownie status to Junior Girl Scout status. The girl breathes green and white, and is a hard-core advocate for Troop 6601 located in our Northeast D.C. neighborhood. I’m so impressed at her dedication and buy in to it – literally. We hock, I mean, sell those Girl Scout cookies for two months together like nobody’s business. In fact, for three years, she’s been top seller of her troop. Many of you reading this have fallen victim to our social media advertising and marketing practices. This year it was buy five boxes, get one free. (Thanks, by the way for your support!) I go online every so often to purchase new Girl Scout gear. Most recently it was t-shirts and nail press ons. And for the third consecutive year, she’ll receive a partial scholarship to attend Girl Scout summer overnight camp. I’ll need to finance the remaining balance for this year’s Ponytails program – horseback riding – she can’t wait.
I’m thankful for two things: that Troop 6601 meets about 200 steps away from our house at a local church. No driving outside of our ward, quadrant or the District, like we do every other activity and for school. I despite doing that, but in our case, there are no other acceptable options for the time being. She can actually walk to and from meetings just like the good ole’ days of community living.
Secondly, I’m thankful for the dedicated troop leaders. They actually don’t live in our community, but commute from the outskirts themselves, to mentor and inspire our girls. I’m so appreciative. So as the nation celebrates Girl Scout Leader Appreciation Day today, during National Volunteer Month, I want to send a BIG thank you to our troop leaders, Ms. Cunningham and the two Ms. Claytons (mother and daughter). Thanks to them, my girl has gone camping, rollerskating, volunteered at senior homes in our community, sold about 400-600 boxes of cookies, learned marketing, leadership and experienced good, old-fashioned kid fun. In my appreciation for these three, I tried to mastermind a moment where they could be honored in our community. As an active member of my Eastland Gardens Civic Association, I was able to get Troop 6601 on the agenda to make a presentation and invite new members. I was going to use that time to honor the three leaders with surprise recognition and gifts on behalf of my girl, myself, and the rest of the troop. Unfortunately, they couldn’t make it, so I want this pubic message to serve as my thanks to saving my girl from sitting on the couch on Saturday mornings, not having to depend on online relationships to be social, and getting her further away from the probability of spending time in prison.
According to a May 2013, Girl Scouts Research Institute newsletter, “extracurricular or out-of-school-time (OST) programs play a key role in promoting positive development among youth. Studies have shown that involvement in OST programs in areas such as the arts, music, sports, community service, and other enrichment activities have been linked to positive outcomes for youth, such as higher levels of academic success, and a decrease in negative outcomes, including lower school dropout rates and a reduction in risk behaviors (e.g. alcohol, crime, drugs).”
And for those that do get sidelined, did you know that the Girl Scouts had a program in juvenile detention centers? The organization’s website reports: “females represented more than one in four arrests in 2010, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. Of those, 14.5 percent were under the age of 18.” As a result, Girl Scouting in Detention Centers (GSDC) was established in the 1990s to serve young women in secure detention, in residential treatment, on probation, at alternative high schools, and in community troops after their release. So, a big thanks goes to our troop’s leaders for their volunteerism, and also to the Girl Scout organization as a whole.
Here’s to a successful future of commitment and loyalty for my young lady.