As a parent of two and Girl Scout troop leader of eleven, back-to-school time is a busy season in my household. Long summer days are coming to an end, but kids everywhere are beaming with a new kind of excitement ahead of the incoming school year. For me, a dedicated volunteer with our daughter’s BIPOC Mentored Girl Scout troop, I share in her excitement. The start of a new school year brings with it a new world of possibilities for our kiddos to learn, grow, and find their unique voices.
But caregivers may wonder, with so many offerings available outside of school, what makes Girl Scouts different?
It’s common knowledge that a variety of out-of-school-time programs provide kids with extended learning and growth opportunities, plus supervision and safety after school. Everything from dance troupes to basketball teams give our children important venues for learning and practicing life skills like confidence, teamwork, and leadership. Research also shows that out-of-school-time programs often support better academic outcomes and improved social skills in kids.
My husband and I, like all parents, want our kids to be socially and emotionally well-rounded, and find activities that challenge them to learn and grow. For our daughters, getting involved with their Girl Scout troops has provided a venue to help them do just that—in addition to providing meaningful volunteer experiences for us. Girl Scouts has helped our quiet kids come out of their shells and make new friends, while gaining the courage and confidence to achieve in all aspects of life—whether inside or outside of a classroom.
The impact of Girl Scouts programming has also been demonstrated in numerous studies, with research showing that these kids are more likely to have positive values and a strong sense of self, in addition to being more likely to seek challenges, develop healthy relationships, and exhibit community problem solving skills. Girl Scouts are statistically more likely to attain excellent grades, pursue future careers in STEM, and generally feel hopeful about their futures. And at a time when rates of anxiety and depression among youth are on the rise, that sense of hope and self-worth these kids are developing is meaningful to us, both as parents and as mentors.
The need for affirming spaces is especially important for kids of color, which is one of the many reasons being a BIPOC troop leader brings me so much pride. Being intentional and proactive about providing my children with spaces that help enhance their social and emotional wellbeing has become a top priority. Girl Scouts gives them that safe space where they can develop as leaders, take healthy risks, and build confidence in themselves alongside other kids who share similar experiences.
Moreover, it provides a place where each of our Girl Scouts can feel affirmed and celebrated for who they are—fully. From the racially mixed girl who isn’t sure where she fits in at school to the nonbinary child who doesn’t know how they’ll be received by new peers, each and every single one of our kids deserves that safe and welcoming space. And while we’re thrilled our girls are getting great exposure to subjects like STEM, entrepreneurship, and outdoor leadership, we’re especially proud of the life skills they’re learning and putting into practice right now—like respecting themselves and being a sister to all.
If you’re considering getting involved with Girl Scouting, for your child and maybe even as a volunteer, don’t wait. As these two parents and troop leaders can attest, our kids are growing up fast. The experiences and opportunities we can equip them with now make a difference and will stay with them throughout their lives.
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by Khadra Mohamed, Girl Scout Troop Leader & ConnectZ Program Coordinator As a youth mentor working on behalf of Somali girls, back-to-school time is a favorite season of mine. Long summer days are coming to an end and our kids are swapping days at Valleyfair and nights playing pickup basketball for school, sports teams, and…