Tough cookie to sell

Balance of Girl Scouts, high school

Whenever+someone+says+%E2%80%9CGirl+Scout%E2%80%9D+what+comes+to+mind%3F+For+most+people%2C+it%E2%80%99s+cute+little+girls%2C+with+front+teeth+missing+or+braces%2C+selling+cookies+door-to-door+or+in+front+of+the+grocery+store.+Most+people+don%E2%80%99t+picture+a+high+schooler+who%E2%80%99s+also+juggling+AP+classes+and+extracurriculars.+%0AI%E2%80%99ve+been+a+Girl+Scout+since+I+was+in+second+grade.+My+troop%2C+Troop+1241%2C+used+to+be+much+bigger.+At+one+point%2C+I+remember+there+being+nearly+30+girls+in+our+troop.+Now%2C+we%E2%80%99re+down+to+fewer+than+10.+Most+of+the+girls+still+in+our+troop+have+been+there+since+the+beginning.

photo credit: John Olajimi

Whenever someone says “Girl Scout” what comes to mind? For most people, it’s cute little girls, with front teeth missing or braces, selling cookies door-to-door or in front of the grocery store. Most people don’t picture a high schooler who’s also juggling AP classes and extracurriculars. “I’ve been a Girl Scout since I was in second grade. My troop, Troop 1241, used to be much bigger. At one point, I remember there being nearly 30 girls in our troop. Now, we’re down to fewer than 10. Most of the girls still in our troop have been there since the beginning.”

writer: Hannah Hansen, Editor-in-Chief

Hello, everyone. My name is Hannah Hansen, and I’m a junior. I’m also a Girl Scout, which really surprises a lot of people whenever I mention it.

Whenever someone says “Girl Scout” what comes to mind? For most people, it’s cute little girls, with front teeth missing or braces, selling cookies door-to-door or in front of the grocery store. Most people don’t picture a high schooler who’s also juggling AP classes and extracurriculars. They don’t picture the stress of it, or, even occasionally, the embarrassment.

I’ve been a Girl Scout since I was in second grade. My troop, Troop 1241, used to be much bigger. At one point, I remember there being nearly 30 girls in our troop. Now, we’re down to fewer than 10. Most of the girls still in our troop have been there since the beginning.

I’ve gone through nearly a decade of cookie selling, my Bronze and Silver awards (Bronze award: a community service award that’s shared throughout the entirety of the troop; Silver award: a community service award that’s shared between a small group of Girl Scouts), dozens of camping trips, and probably over a hundred meetings.

As our troop has matured together, our troop leaders, a couple of moms of other girls, have slowly begun to give us more control over the meetings and the activities we plan. At the beginning, they would plan and organize everything, from camping trip meals to booth sales. Now, they’re simply there because Girl Scouts require them to be. We, the girls, decide on how to spend troop funds, when and where to sell cookies, when and where to go camping, what activities we want to do and how our troop functions.

A lot of people, when they find out I’m a Girl Scout, ask me, “Why are you still doing it? What do you even get out of it?” I guess that, when they picture a ‘Girl Scout,’ I’m not what they picture.

The short answer is: I get quite a lot out of it, actually.

Being in the troop has helped me to mature and take on more responsibilities and decision-making as I’ve gotten older. It’s given me a safe environment to try new things–and sometimes fail spectacularly. It’s given me a community of other girls who I can trust and rely on. There’s nothing quite like trying to sell cookies in below freezing weather or having a tornado pass you by while camping or pitching and staying in a tent for the first time in what is definitely a haunted campsite.

“Why are you still doing it? What do you even get out of it?”

I’ve had lots of friends throughout my life, but none of them are quite as close as those who I’ve huddled close to while wearing several layers of clothing, in a fragile tent while roaring wind and pouring rain pelt us from all sides. None of them are quite as close as those who I compete with every January and February, in the middle of cookie season, bribing and flattering every classmate and teacher in the hopes they’ll buy from me and not my friends.

Also, I’m an Ambassador, which is the highest rank a Girl Scout can achieve. This means that by the time I graduate high school, I need to have my Gold project finished. A Gold project is a community service project that Girl Scouts in high school must complete individually. We must create a sustainable, helpful tool or project for our communities, and we must spend at least 80 hours working on it and organize every aspect of it by ourselves. Basically, it’s a huge challenge.

However, since so many Girl Scouts don’t reach the Gold project, there are many scholarships and awards that someone can earn upon completing it. Many colleges and universities offer scholarships, and they also like seeing people in Girl Scouts because it shows them that that person is responsible, mature, trustworthy and a team player.

Now, this isn’t to say that being a Girl Scout in high school is easy. It definitely isn’t at times, and I would be lying if I haven’t wondered before if maybe it would be easier if I just quit. There are times when the meetings are on a busy day where I’m stressed to death with homework or absolutely exhausted. There are times when the meetings run long and I don’t get home until late at night and it’s all I can do to make it to bed. There are times when the activities and events we have planned land on the least convenient weekend or fall through at an important time. There are times where the idealistic picture of being a Girl Scout doesn’t fit my reality.

Being a part of a Girl Scout troop, while also juggling demanding classes, overlapping extracurriculars, and family and social demands, can definitely be stressful at times, but every time I think of how hard it is and how much I hate whatever we’re currently doing, I remember every time I do something new for the first time, like archery, pitching a tent, ax throwing, how proud and excited that makes me feel.

While this whole experience definitely has had its ups and downs, I know, deep down, that I wouldn’t change anything. I know I could never just up and abandon my troop. I know that so many of these unique experiences–the time a snake tried to attack us on a hike, the time a bunch of us got food poisoning while camping, the time we almost got thrown out of an art museum–are invaluable and have taught me so much, about myself, others, and the world.

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