Column: Girl Scouts empowers girls — and it has value for adults, too


PUNGO — In 1929, there were only 117 female pilots in the U.S. Amelia Earhart invited them all to join together to provide support for one another. They named their group The Ninety-Nines to represent its 99 charter members.  

Now, of course, there are thousands of women who fly airplanes – not to mention thousands more in various aviation careers.  On Saturday, April 29th, the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast gathered at the Military Aviation Museum for “Girl Fest,” to explore these careers, celebrate the end of a successful cookie season and enjoy a concert by rising country music star SaraBeth. Her songs include “Girl Scout Cookie Monster.”  

Booths were staffed by representatives of organizations such as the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, Civil Air Patrol and GEICO – who showed the girls how to change a tire. Girls had the chance to meet people from the Young Eagles Program and The Ninety-Nines local chapter.

The pilot from Sentara Lifeflight’s helicopter “Nightingale” graciously spent time explaining how helicopters work to the girls in my troop so they could complete an aviation badge step, and an Air Force aviation mechanic explained her job to them for another step.

A highlight of the day was the singing of the national anthem by SaraBeth while the American flag was dropped in from the sky by skydivers. All were women. One serves as a U.S. Marine.  

It is events like these that confirm my commitment in all that Girl Scouts stand for. You may have heard our mission statement – “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” You may know that Girl Scouts started in 1912, a time when women did not have a lot of career choices. 

You may think Girl Scouts are just girls who sell cookies and go camping. If so, you should know that we are so much more than that. We are 2.6 million strong throughout 92 countries, and we are empowering girls to truly change the world. 

I’ve been a Girl Scout all my life, from kindergarten through high school, when I earned my Gold Award, the highest achievement within Girl Scouting. My mom was my troop leader for all but a few of those years, so I sometimes say I was born to be a leader. I am a troop leader now because I want my daughter to have this foundational experience as a Girl Scout. 

Outside Girl Scouts, I often heard the message of “not enough” in all parts of my life. That girls are not smart enough, not strong enough, not talented enough, not pretty enough – just not enough. In Girl Scouts, the opposite is true.

In Girl Scouts, girls discover who they are, what they care about, what their talents are. They connect by working with others to learn and grow. They take action to make our world a better place. 

In Girl Scouts, a girl can explore any career path she wants, help the helpless, go on trips across the globe, run her very own business with the cookie program and – literally – climb mountains. In Girl Scouts, every girl is “enough,” and she learns that she is so much more.  

I spend a lot of time and money as a Girl Scout leader. I get only about four hours of sleep a night, and many of my weekends are spent doing activities with my troop. Like so many other people, I do it gladly because it matters.

How could I not want to be a part of this? How could I turn down the opportunity to help my own daughter see that the world is her oyster, and she is not now – nor will she ever be – limited by her gender? Who wouldn’t want to help as many girls as possible reach for the stars, learn to be confident and courageous, kind and honest? 

The examples our troop encountered at the Military Aviation Museum are a reminder of our values of strength, determination and courage for the trailblazers in a field that once was not available to women. We’re doing our part to make a better world through Girl Scouts.

And the cookies are pretty good, too.  

Sandelier is a mom of two and an auditor and certified public accountant who lives in Red Mill and works in the Ghent section of Norfolk.

© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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