By Colorado Girl Scout Alumna Rae Ann (Eversole) Dougherty
Girl Scout memories. We all have them, especially as we celebrate the 100th year of Girl Scouts. For me it has been a flood … many are the traditional things that are unique specifically to Girl Scouts, including S’mores; camp with sit-upons, dunk bags and campfires (including collecting the ashes for the next campfire); SWAPs; investiture; Friendship Circle; Brownie Ring; Flying Up with bridging ceremonies; favorite songs; World Centers; Girl Scout “sisters,” etc. They just flood in! They have become a part of who we are. How wonderful traditions are to create who we are.
As kids we meet adults all of the time. Some we remember, others we do not. One day when I was a Girl Scout Junior, I met an “old lady” who was the aunt of my classmates, Cathy and Grace Lawrence. I was told that she was a part of the history of Girl Scouts. This is a vague recollection in the back of my memory, but it is clearly there. It turns out this was confirmed when I received my copy of “Girl Scouts, A Celebration of 100 Trailblazing Years”. The lady I met was Daisy Gordon Lawrence, the niece and namesake of Juliette Gordon Low, Girl Scouts’ founder! What an honor. It is special memory. I have since met and become dear friends of so many who have been key to the history of Girl Scouts, including Gill Clay, the granddaughter of Lord & Lady Baden-Powell. (The picture in the slideshow above that has me holding a picture with another woman is a photo of me and Gill Clay. The picture we are holding is her grandmother, Lady Baden-Powell. We are at Our Cabaña.)
I grew up in a small town, so Girl Scouts was the center of many activities that occurred. For me there are several specific memories (and life lessons) that have stayed with me.
- Service: It seemed that everything in town we did as Girl Scouts was somehow linked to service. From making and delivering clothes for the disabled to planning a Meet the Candidates Night as I hunt and peck (in the B&W photo above). Because of this strong foundation I still search how I can serve.
- Leadership: I accepted every opportunity there was to try new things and develop my leadership skills, starting with being a patrol leader in our Girl Scout Junior troop to leading our troop to earn the Eight Indispensables in Girl Scout Seniors. I became a role model early, and I was the only Girl Scout Senior in our Memorial Day parade (shown in one of the color photos above). I also rose to the leadership level of everything I was involved with in school – sports, clubs, National Honor Society, as well as advocating in front of the school board. Today’s leadership is because of yesterday’s opportunities.
- Networking: Well we did not call it ”networking” then, but I developed the ability in Girl Scouts to go up and meet someone I did not know and strike up a conversation with them. I built on this skill throughout my Girl Scout years. As a result I had many wonderful chances to meet new folks, through council events, inter-council exchanges and ultimately Wider Ops. My Green Cleaning Products LLC business would not be what it is today without this ability.
- Change and Growth: Girl Scouting has a solid foundation. I have been able to gain a new and deeper appreciation for that as I read biographies of our founders through the years. Girl Scouting works hard to stay relevant. This requires change. Through my early years I had to get used to changes from new Girl Scout uniforms/programs to new schools in new states as my family moved. The result of change is my realization that I had chances to do things my peers did not, and I was able to develop skills that others did not. I attribute this growth, and ability to embrace change, as a direct result from what I did in Girl Scouts.
- Supporting Each Other as Sisters: This feeling of sisterhood continues today. What is so exciting is that I have found so many wonderful friends, as a girl and as an adult, that have the same set of values as I do because of the Girl Scout Promise and Law. For example, I reconnected with Eloise Golden just a year ago, and because of our solid Girl Scout foundation it feels as if we have shared 40+ years together. It’s magical!
- Look Wider … Look Wider Still: Discover, Connect and Take Action is what our current program is based on, and it is founded on one of our founder’s greatest challenges to us. I started by stretching into the next badge, then the next Girl Scout activity or life event, and even became one of the few exchange students to ever be sent by my high school. (I went to Bogotá, Columbia.) In Girl Scouting, I took a group of girls to Sangam, the World Center in India.
There is no question who I am today is because of my Girl Scout experience over the last 40-50 years! It is because I received so many wonderful and unique opportunities, as well as skill development, that I began to “give back” in the only way I knew, which was to volunteer for Girl Scouts. It has been very rewarding, especially as I watch girls grow to reach their potential. I know that I have touched tens of thousands of girls from all over the world through the years. I used to wonder how many of the girls I have worked with through the years remember me. I realized it is more than I ever imagined when one member of my Girl Scout Cadette troop invited me many years later to her wedding, proudly going around telling EVERYONE that I was her “Girl Scout leader!” Another recently told me that “without Rae Ann’s assistance and guidance, I would not be where I am today (an accomplished and professional African-American practicing physician and mother).”
One of my favorite quotes of Juliette Gordon Low’s is, “The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers!” I was made by many before me, and I am committed to help as many as I can in the future. For these reasons I will continue to serve Girl Scouts, perhaps until the sesquicentennial (150th) celebration!
Have a Girl Scout memory you want to share? We would love to hear from you! Share your Girl Scout memories here for future inclusion on Girl Scouts of Colorado’s blog.