I was recently asked to speak at the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Gold Award Ceremony. While I was eager to say yes, I had no idea how truly inspiring these Gold Award recipients would be. These young women exemplify motivation, persistence, gumption, and grace. While it saddens me to say that I was not a Girl Scout, I hope that one day I can have a daughter so that she may be a Girl Scout. The organization is that amazing.
There’s a big reason why I think we need more programs like Girl Scouts. It was not until after my college graduation that I realized how truly unprepared I was to take on the world. Perhaps it was my lack of initiation or the heavy emphasis on research and theory from college but there was something crucial missing from my training: how to SURVIVE.
While our schools teach us about the quadratic formula, Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, and the anatomy of a fetal pig (or frog or cat, etc.), we were forgetting something major. Maybe you were lucky enough to have parents take time to educate you further but ultimately, many of us are missing the essentials. These include the following:
- How to establish credit and effectively use a credit card
- How to purchase stock and save funds proactively
- How to rent an apartment and someday purchase a home
- How to cook a meal other than macaroni and cereal
- How to maintain happy and healthy relationships
Are you catching my drift? We’ve been so busy teaching to the test every year, we’ve forgotten how to help kids not only survive, but THRIVE. And this is why I love Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouts teaches young women the most valuable lessons.—these are lessons where you earn a patch but never a grade. These are lessons that we may innately know as adults but sometimes forget to teach to children. We can’t always remember pre-calculus or even algebra for that matter, and so we hire teachers. But investing? Laundry? Friendship? Kids are supposed to watch and observe and if they miss it, too bad. Sometimes we forget that if school isn’t in session and there’s no bell to start class, students don’t need to keep learning. But I think it’s what happens after school hours—like talks at the coffee table or drives in the car—when kids can truly learn the most valuable lessons. We just have to make sure our parents are sharing and our kids are listening.
Because parents are so cramped for time, they don’t always have the time or energy to educate their kids on these life lessons. There will be another time—another moment when it will matter more. That’s what we say as the days turn into weeks and into months and into years. And then it’s graduation time…except the graduate doesn’t know how to iron their graduation gown.
What I love about Girl Scouts is that they don’t wait. You’re never too young to learn…even if you’re a Daisy or a Brownie. They take the precious time to TEACH young women what others think is innate. Children are not born knowing how to prepare effective business plans, rise to leadership roles, or simply connect with others. By taking the time to train these Girl Scouts on the building blocks of a successful life, they are able to truly shine as they reach adulthood. They are not the college students fumbling to find out the answers (like I was), they are the ones exceling and moving one step ahead. They are ready in every sense of the word.
While those Girl Scout cookies are darn delicious (even just the smell of the Trefoil cookie candle they gave me is intoxicating), they are teaching young women invaluable lessons. They are learning how to network, approach and interact with adults, organize money, and set challenging goals. They also get to experience the reward of meeting those goals and thus they are motivated to reach higher. Hence the prestigious Gold Award years later.
When the big day came, I asked a question before my keynote. I was quickly corrected. I said, “How many hours does it take to win the Gold Award?” To which the Marketing Director replied, “Our Girl Scouts don’t win the Gold Award…they EARN it.” I think that says it all.