My daughter is a Girl Scout in the Hudson Valley, New York. She has just bridged to juniors, and is proud to be part of a group of girls whose mission is to build(s) girls of courage, confidence, and character, (who) make the world a better place.
Last week, I was invited to teach yoga and meditation by my dear friend Katy, founder of Promises for Families organization, to her group of girl scouts at Camp Texlake, in Spicewood, TX. Promises works in partnership with agencies that provide services for families and children of the incarcerated. By fostering creative ability through movement, music, art and nature, Promises empowers children to grow and develop in an emotional, healthy manner to help overcome the grieving they are facing during these traumatic situations.
I arrived in Texas with my kids on Monday to a dry day of 102 degrees. We were greeted by the smiling faces of thirteen girls involved in an artistic project, their counselors, African drummer Arthur Thompson, and dancer Tonya Ball. Not only would these girls get to work with Arthur, Tonya and myself, they also had an amazing schedule of activities scheduled with the other girl scout troops at the camp. It looked like it would be a fun week.
But the schedule…changed…throughout the course of the week.
Girl Scouting helps girls develop their full individual potential; relate to others with increasing understanding, skill, and respect; develop values to guide their actions and provide the foundation for sound decision-making; and contribute to the improvement of society through their abilities, leadership skills, and cooperation with others.
We had communal meals together in a cafeteria with other troops. Our seats were in the back of the cafeteria, and we had a hard time hearing the announcements, opening grace, songs, and table chants.
We didn’t know the songs, chants or what was going to be said for opening grace. All the other girls did. Nor were we given the lyrics to practice so we could participate, despite our requests for them. So, we made up our own and incorporated a little table drumming.
As the days progressed, the collaborative girl scouts event times were adjusted. Our troop wasn’t notified of those changes until a little too late. There was a camp-wide cookout to be held, and it was close to 105 that day. We were given to option to eat indoors or outdoors due to the heat. We requested indoors. For some reason, our request was not heard. That night, we missed dinner. We ordered pizza instead.
Embracing individuality as a core value: Diversity has been a core value of Girl Scouts since its founding in 1912. At a time of segregation and before laws promoting civil rights were passed, our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, ensured that African-American, American Indian and Hispanic girls were able to become Girl Scouts.
There was a pool at the camp. Granted, there are a lot of kids in the pool at once. The lifeguards would do “buddy checks” throughout the swim time to make sure everyone was safe. Our troop didn’t have the “buddy markers” or were aware of the proper procedure. My daughter, Aliyah, was about to ask her counselor about the procedure. She was pulled aside by a lifeguard who firmly instructor her to find her buddy. When Aliyah said that she needed to find her counselor and started to walk away, the lifeguard said,
“Don’t ignore me.”
“But I’m getting my counselor,” said Aliyah.
“Oh…you are with that other group,” stated the lifeguard.
As a core value, diversity is a critical component of our volunteer, employee and governance systems
We did participate in the “capers” – cleaning of the facilities. We did not miss our opportunity to conduct the flag ceremony. Our girls really shined.
But, there were a lot of things our girls missed.
I have only one answer. A misunderstanding of the core value of Girl Scouts – Diversity.
Since my children have been born, I have tried to explain this to them. This past week may have been a mixed blessing. They experienced what it is like to be excluded for no apparent reason other than a misunderstanding from others.
On this day we celebrate our independence. Celebrate our independence, and embrace everyone who brought it to us.