Girls, Volunteers

Growing mentors the Girl Scout Way

Can you recall someone who made you believe in yourself? Who took the time to really get to know your skills and values and then helped you accomplish a goal? Ask most successful adults how they got where they are today and they’ll tell stories of skill and determination, but almost always there will be someone who supported them and encouraged them to reach for that goal. This is mentoring at its best and it is what you as Girl Scout volunteers do every day for girls.

Sometimes as adults we forget that girls can be mentors too and that finding them opportunities to teach and guide the younger Girl Scouts is an essential part of building great leaders. How does a girl grow into a leader? The same way she gets to Carnegie Hall: practice. Where does she get a chance to practice? Girl Scouts. The Teen Mentoring Awards found in the CadetteSenior, and Ambassador Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting are all about practicing and honing your leadership skills in a safe and low pressure environment through teaching and guiding younger girls.

One of the great assets of the Teen Mentoring program is its insistence on meeting the girls where they are, with opportunities that interest them and take their readiness to lead into account. A great example is the Junior Counselor and CIT programs at camp. The camp staff recently revitalized and restructured the CIT program for 2014 summer camp to better coach the girls to become leaders at camp and not just attendees. One particular camper who trained to be a Junior Counselor found that she was not ready for the duties and expectations of that position. Rather than give up on the girl or send her home with a poor camp experience, the counselors met with her one on one and discussed what interested her, where her particular strengths lay, and what she was ready for as a leader. Through that process the girl concluded she was better suited for a CIT II position and with some coaching, she became a great asset, volunteering to lead songs and games and thoroughly enjoying her camp experience. By evaluating her as an individual and not just trying to fit her into the expectations of one program, the camp staff gained an invested leader for the younger campers and the girl learned that she can succeed at something and provide guidance to those younger than her. Camp prides itself on growing its campers into counselors and it is through success stories like this one that this metamorphosis happens. Girls who are mentored grow up to be great mentors and they do so by practicing those skills from a young age.

Think you have some troop members who are ready to start their mentoring journey? Watch this amazing video about the impact Girl Scouting had on some of its alumnae and then look in your 2014-2015 program event guide to find out how your troop can get started earning their Teen Mentoring Awards.