Give Rise to Girl-Led
The girl led component of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience can be the hardest, but it is the most important. Letting girls of all ages take the reigns in their Girl Scout experience, in various age appropriate progressive ways, sounds simple on paper, but there can definitely be challenges beyond the surface.
Our society does not encourage independence among girls and women. It is apparent early on in how girls are treated, taught, and shown in the world around them. This conditioning has long-lasting affects well into adulthood. Fostering a girl-led culture among your troop, and even in your home, can challenge what you know, what you are comfortable with, your own inherited views, and may take plenty of practice. Prioritizing this value and letting girls speak up and lead in their Girl Scout space is not only necessary and empowering, it is revolutionary.
Early on, girls are taught to be “sugar, spice, and everything nice.” Girls learn acceptance and success have a price tag of being selfless. To be likeable, we must make ourselves small and agreeable. Even if not preached at home, the messages are everywhere from toys to fairy tales, to what is modeled in the world around us.
These subtle inequalities make it obvious as to why girls tend to speak up less than boys in classrooms, so many women are less likely to ask for a well-deserved raise in the workforce out of fear of offending their employer, and so on. In the end, without the safe space to practice breaking this cycle, girls are likely to start ignoring their inner voice that tells them what their needs and wants are, for the sake of fitting in. Do this enough, and eventually, the voice goes silent.
Girl Scouting provides so many benefits to girls, but a girl-led experience is the star among stars. Girls need to feel free to take risks. Voicing opinions and making decisions can be risky territory for a girl in our world. Giving girls the platform and taking their ideas and opinions seriously builds self-esteem.
A girl who feels heard and valued will keep that standard throughout her life. Providing this space can be even trickier depending on the girl-led experience in your own life, so start small, and practice. Make it a star priority. Provide extra time as needed. Experiment with different techniques like writing and games, so even the quietest of girls can still be heard and valued. Every bit of the girl-led experience you help provide to girls as they grow will have life changing effects that will help close gaps and last lifetimes.