By: Emma B.

Two people can have radically different experiences with the same thing. I think a great example of this is Girl Scouts. Millions of lives are touched by the Girl Scout organization every year. Whether you have gone on to earn a Girl Scout Gold Award or maybe you are simply the greatest Girl Scout Cookie seller in your troop, every girl’s experience with Girl Scouts is different. 

Still, I want to compare the experiences of two different Girl Scouts: myself and my sister Anna. I wanted to see how the same organization can provide two very different yet positive experiences.  

Me (Emma)

I joined Girl Scouts when I was five-years old, joining a troop when I started kindergarten. My troop was localized, structured and a great environment for my younger self. Our troop was also very traditional. We met once a month at our local firehouse to discuss badges, trips, community service and other fun and rewarding activities. I also had additional responsibility because my Mom was our troop leader. This meant, most times, I was helping with much of the planning and helping to organize every meeting. This led to me being incredibly involved in the running of my troop. By the time I was seven, I understood things such as the troop’s budget and how to plan for events. This involvement would come in handy many times. 

I have numerous memories of planning camping trips when I was young. Due to our troop’s tight budget, we’d often have to figure out how many cookies or chocolates we would have to sell in order to do things. I would often interact with my fellow troop members at meetings, school and playdates. We all had a bond as troop members and it was a bond that taught me how to interact with other kids and still provides great memories. 

However, by age 10, my priorities had shifted. I was approaching middle school and my troop’s activities didn’t appeal to me. It was right about this time that I discovered the Lime Green Giraffe. I was already aspiring to be a writer and this was such an exciting opportunity to be a Girl Scout and an LGG magazine staff writer! I began to write articles for LGG but I began to realize that staying in a troop wasn’t for me. 

When I was 12, I left my troop and became a Juliette Girl Scout which is a type of Girl Scout who participates independently from a troop. Being a Juliette Girl Scout taught me that it was okay to be independent. 

My experience in Girl Scouts has been unique and has shaped the person and the writer that I am now. I have continued to enjoy being a Girl Scout, a staff writer for LGG and I am entering my 13th and final year of Girl Scouts. I can’t believe I am a Girl Scout Ambassador!  

My Sister (Anna)

My sister Anna, now being only 10, was just a baby when I was a young Daisy Girl Scout. She was our unofficial troop mascot for many years before she was old enough to become a Girl Scout. Her experience with Girl Scouts has been very interesting and is still teaching her a great deal. 

My sister joined Girl Scouts at the same age as me, starting in Kindergarten, joining a new troop in our community. It was a troop associated with our local school that met every few weeks. It immediately taught my sister how to make friends, some of which are still her friends today. 

After her Kindergarten year, Anna had some scheduling conflicts and so my mom switched my sister to her current troop. This troop is a little smaller and has troop members from a different school. This troop meets every few weeks at a local church. Sometimes they meet more or less often depending on what is going on with school, church and other activities. My sister loves her troop and they have a very fun, relaxed schedule. The troop is a multi-level troop, which means it contains different levels of Girl Scouts. Her troop consists of both Girl Scout Brownies and Girl Scout Juniors. 

My sister’s troop takes part in traditional Girl Scout activities like camping and selling Girl Scout Cookies. They also do fun, casual outings, like meeting up at the park or having a fun Halloween party. The troop members earn badges at home and also at meetings with help from leaders and parents. They volunteer on their own or as a troop. Anna has made lots of friends and has become quite active on social media. Overall, Anna’s experience has been less traditional, but more flexible. She loves it and she always speaks proudly about being a Girl Scout.  

Our troop experiences are radically different from each other. When I was in my Girl Scout troop, everything was heavily regimented and heavily scheduled. Events were rarely random or unplanned. Though we had moments of levity and playtime, those were typically after our usual meetings. 

My sister’s troop, by contrast, has an opposite method of running things. My sister’s troop has a much more relaxed atmosphere and lets my sister and friends do things at their own pace. My sister runs on a less strict schedule, but yet she has had similar experiences to me. She’s gone on camping trips, she’s sold Girl Scout Cookies (far more than I did in fact), and has participated in many volunteer events. 

However, it was upon reflection when I realized something. I was looking to compare and contrast our two experiences and what was “better” about both of them. For example, I left my Girl Scout troop to go independent to focus on writing. I will always love my old troop and its members, but I had different priorities and wanted to do my own thing. My sister has a very flexible troop, with lots of options for approaching activities and badges. Upon this realization, I fully realized that I was approaching my comparison incorrectly. I realized that no two experiences with Girl Scouts are the same.

There is no one exact “right” way to be a Girl Scout. Expecting people to fit into a clear box of what defines a Girl Scout doesn’t work because it takes away what is so good about Girl Scouts. There is every type of activity for a Girl Scout of any interest to enjoy. I think to try and find the objectively “best” experience as a Girl Scout would ruin that. 

Even though my sister and I have Girl Scout experiences that are different, I realized how wonderful that is. We’ve both been shaped by Girl Scouts in different ways and yet our lives would be fundamentally different without it. Fitting people into boxes isn’t a good thing, because there will always be different ways of doing the same thing with our own unique individual approach, and that’s a beautiful thing. 

That’s Girl Scouts and that’s girl power!   

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