I was 7 years old when I joined Girl Scouts, and while most of my time as a Brownie is a blur of badges, camping trips, and cookies, the memory that sticks out the most is the time we sang Christmas carols at a nursing home, and one of the residents cried and held my hand the entire time we sang. That moment inspired me to become a troop leader for my own 5-year-old who joined this year, and the Girl Scouts' response to the coronavirus pandemic is a huge reason why I'm even prouder to carry on that work.
The Girl Scout Law is memorized pretty quickly by troops, and goes like this: "I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout."
As panic about the coronavirus pandemic spread, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta CEO Amy S. Dosik sent an email to Girl Scout members invoking that law. "Girl Scouts can be a force for good by confronting misinformation about Asian-Americans, who increasingly have been the targets of racist attacks and discrimination," Dosik wrote. You know — be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, make the world a better place.
That part of the Girl Scout Law sticks out the most to me — along with the Girl Scout mantra of leaving things better than you found them — when I read the rest of Dosik's email, which ends with a paragraph on Girl Scouts being "a force for good." Dosik writes, "The 1947 Girl Scout Handbook explains: 'A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency.'" She shares an example of Girl Scouts during World War II planting victory gardens and collecting scrap metal. And during the coronavirus pandemic? The world is asking for similar gusto and consideration. One troop leader tells me about her own sixth grade Girl Scout who recently had to defend a friend of Chinese descent after she was teased by other students at school. "She firmly set the teasing students in their places and got them to shut up," the troop leader tells me.
Because these girls are so much more than cookie-slingers and craft-makers and s'mores-eaters. They are a force for good, a reckoning for this world. In my Daisy troop full of 5- and 6-year-olds, you'd be amazed at how they understand their role in the world: to do good, to leave things better than they found them, and to be honest and fair.
Dosik also mentions the law and promise when encouraging members to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on proper hygiene, and to stay home if they're not feeling well. It all ties into respecting others and making the world a better place — with or without Thin Mints. And if the rest of society could jump into this pandemic like a Girl Scout, we'd all be better off. The Girl Scout motto is to be prepared, but that doesn't just include a stockpile of toilet paper.
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