Flashback: I am 10 years old, dressed in a crisp white shirt, brown sash, brown skort, brown socks and a beanie cap. To my left is Cheryl Wescott. To my right is Martina Jarina. Both are in my 4th grade class. We are standing in a circle, right arms crossed over left, clasping the hands of the girls beside us. We are standing in our leader’s (Mrs. Wescott’s) living room in a little town called West Buxton, Maine, 20 minutes from the nearest city or mall. We begin to sing:
Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold
A circle is round; it has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend
I have a hand, you have another, put them together and we have each other.
Cheryl starts “the squeeze” with her right hand, and, like an electrical current, the squeeze travels from girl to girl. When it returns to Cheryl’s left hand, we raise our arms over our heads and “turn out.” The circle is complete.
We then go pick up our cross stitch, embroidery project (mine is brown gingham with yellow embroidery thread) and start making “x”‘s on cloth. It will eventually be a pillow for my Mom, for a Mother’s Day present. We chat and talk about cookie sales (the boxes are stacked in the corner of the Westcott’s’ kitchen) and an upcoming project to pick up roadside trash. It is warm and safe and a place to learn new skills.
Speed up to the present: I am a troop leader. This weekend my troop of seven, sixth grade girls, some of their moms and I will descend on the Mall of America for a huge 100 year celebration (http://www.gsrv100.org/). We plan to see a concert, learn Zumba and self-defense, sign an anti-bullying pledge and visit different stations to perform activities which will earn a badge or two. Hundreds of other Girl Scouts from all over the Midwest will be doing the exact same things. A sisterhood of future leaders will be in the same place, at the same time.
Tonight I will attend a giant Girl Scout Alumnae reception at the Mall of America. I will meet, greet and network with women executives and leaders from Carlson, Best Buy, Clear Channel Outdoor, Wells Fargo, Xcel Energy, Andersen Corporation, 3M, Microsoft, KARE 11 and more. I most likely will not run across any of my former troop mates, since my troop was from Maine, but it won’t matter. We will all have one thing in common: we were former Girl Scouts.
So the next time a Girl Scout rings your doorbell and asks you to buy a box of cookies, realize the skills of entrepreneurship extend far beyond making a $3.50 sale. She is learning self-confidence, communication, financial, persuasive, safety awareness and leadership skills that will carry her far in to the future and will help her succeed as a leader in the business or non-profit world.
Make new friends, indeed