I can’t say that it’s very often I think about my favorite childhood memories. I mean, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’m just too busy for much reminiscing. But last night, I was leaving the office around 6 p.m. and as I walked to my car, a lawn crew nearby was hard at work trimming the grass. That strong, sweet smell of fresh cut grass instantly took me back to the days when my life revolved around what happened on a small, softball diamond every Tuesday and Thursday night. I remembered what it was like to lace up my cleats, snap on my catcher’s gear and huddle up with my team just before a game.
The same thing happened last week when I was at a nearby elementary school open house. Kids were excitedly dragging their parents around to show them their work hanging on hallway walls and proudly introducing them to their teachers for the new school year. In the midst of all that excitement, I was there speaking with girls and their parents about the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. The little girls’ excitement about Girl Scouts and Girl Scout camp, in particular, took me back to some of my most cherished childhood memories: Girl Scout summer camp. Going away for week with my best friends to ride horses, stay in perma-tents, sing songs, play games, play in the lake, go on hikes, make crafts and meet new friends was a highlight of my young life. I can still remember some of my camp counselors and how I looked up to them. I wanted to grow up and be just like them so badly!
Looking back on the experience as an adult now, I can see that not only was camp an unforgettable and exciting experience it was also one in which I learned real-life skills. I can see now that I was more prepared for future independence because of the Girl Scout experiences I had in my formative years.
During those one-week trips to Girl Scout camp, I learned how to live with people who aren’t my family members and see that my family’s “normal” isn’t everyone’s. I learned that being responsible for myself and cleaning up after myself wasn’t just something my parents came up with – it’s something that’s valued and expected in regular society (and kapers are easier and more fun to do with your friends than all by yourself)! And because thrills are usually accompanied by spills when you put a group of gangly girls out in the woods for a week, I learned a bit about first aid and how to react appropriately when accidents happen. The independence and confidence I gained from spending a week away from home and with friends was priceless and unforgettable.
Hearing a little girl excitedly ask her mom if she can be a Girl Scout makes me remember just how wonderful my experiences were. I can’t help but smile and look forward to one day having a daughter of my own that I can send off to Girl Scout camp!