I love working with women, promoting women-owned businesses, and empowering women in our community. One common thread that I’ve noticed with these women is that many of them are former Girl Scouts, which makes complete sense when considering the skills, resolution, and morals of the organization and how they transfer into a well-rounded and well-supported adulthood! For this week's installment of Wednesdays with Whitney, I talked to my friend Jessie Tobin, who is the Director of Philanthropy at Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa, about some of the amazing qualities the Girl Scouts can instill in a person. I also rounded up some of my clients who were Girl Scouts growing up and asked them about their experiences. Read on for some favorite memories, skills, and (of course) cookies!
One of my favorite memories is earning a hologram bookmark as a prize for being a top cookie seller. It was a great day because it represented all the hard work I had done to learn how to ask family and friends for their support, by phone and in person. I was a shy little girl, so that was a huge growing experience. (I still have that bookmark somewhere!)
My first sewing experience was learning to attach my badges to my sash. Little did I know, a Textiles and Apparel Design major was in my future!
My favorite cookie is Shortbread (Trefoils).
When I was in Girl Scouts, my troop took a trip to a ranch and learned horseback riding, archery, and the value of grooming and cleaning up after animals. While I don’t use these skills daily, they definitely supported my love of being outdoors and kindled passion for horseback riding, a hobby that I’d like to reconnect with as an adult.
Earning my cooking badge taught me so much about safe food prep techniques, measuring, patience, and resilience when something didn’t turn out right that isn’t taught in schools today. I continue to use these skills to cook and bake to this day. Some things turn out better than others, but I continue to learn!
I loved Samoas growing up, but now I think they are called Caramel deLites. Simply indulgent and heavenly!
Sarah Noll Wilson
I'm a proud Girl Scout from Troop #238 Dubuque, Iowa! Growing up, I had terrible home sickness (I suspect this was really anxiety) and my poor mom would take me to the bus to get picked up for summer day camp. I would cry so hard it would make me sick. (Keep in mind, this was just day camp, we weren't even spending the night.) Finally, my mom told me, "I want you to try it. If you come home and didn't enjoy it, you don't have to go the rest of the week". Once I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and arrived at camp, I fell in love. I meet great friends, learned cool skills, and knew that someday I was going to be a counselor. While I didn't end up working at Camp Little Cloud when I was older, I worked as director of a day camp for at-risk kids for two years. Next to my current work, that was the best job I ever had. I might not have had that experience if it weren't for Girl Scout camp and a little push by my mother.
As a Girl Scout, I learned lots of great skills from camping, to helping others, to sales. But perhaps the best lesson I didn't learn until much later in life. My mom was our Girl Scout troop leader, and we were competing in a sock hop lip sync competition at my school. We chose to lip sync "Leader of the Pack." I wanted to be the lead girl so badly, but my mom chose a newer member of our troop. As a kid, all I knew is that I wasn't chosen, and I was upset. But the pain was numbed when we won first place. It wasn't until I was much older when my mom and I were talking about our Girl Scouting days. I had shared with her how bummed I was when I wasn't selected to be the lead in the competition. My mom asked if I knew why she chose the other girl. Of course I didn't, because as a kid you only see the world through your own perspective. Mom told me that this girl (who later became a good friend of mine) had had a really tough life, raised by a single mom who didn't have much money, and my mom thought she could benefit from having the spotlight on her. At the time I hadn't seen those challenges, but as an adult I could. I can confidently say my mom, our Scout leader, made the absolute right decision. I love the fact that lessons from my time in Girl Scouts still persist.
Hands down, my favorite cookie is Samoas (or Carmel deLights). What's not to love about coconut and caramel?
One year when I was in Girl Scouts, I worked so hard to sell cookies so that I could earn this puppet that looked like a rabbit in a hat. And I did it! My mom kept that rabbit for years because I worked so hard to earn it.
My favorite badge to earn was the cooking badge. My love for food and baking started when I was a Brownie, and now I own a bakery! As an adult, I sell cookies and baked goods from my bakery, and help a new generation of Girl Scouts earn their baking badges and business badges.
My favorite cookie has to be the Tagalong! (Now Peanut Butter Patties - chocolate and peanut butter, hands down.)
I loved my time in the Girl Scouts. My mom was one of our troop leaders. I remember being so excited about the meetings and wearing our Girl Scout uniforms: the brown dress, long socks, white shirt, ribbon neck ties, and of course the “sashes!” I think the best skills we learned were how to be a leader and how to be a good salesperson. I would sell boxes of cookies at a local bank. Just by selling cookies, you learned about event planning, how much time it takes to set up and tear down, inventory, and money management. It’s definitely a valuable life skill learned at a very early age! To this day, I still love planning events!
My favorite cookies have shifted over the years. My favorite growing up was Trefoils. Today, I like Lemonades and frozen Thin Mints...and still Trefoils! Yum!
I attended and worked at Girl Scout Camp Tanglefoot from fourth grade through mid-college. I'm still proud of the day I earned my silver award. It was one of the first times in life when I truly took responsibility for my own work getting completed and seeing something through. My time with the Girl Scouts inspired some of my life's best memories, and it proved to be a completely foundational experience for who I am today.
As for cookies, I love Peanut Butter Patties. The blend of soft peanut butter with the crunchy cookie covered in chocolate is everything.
There are so many great memories from my time as a Girl Scout in Honolulu. I got to participate in a lot of different activities, like having a sleepover in a former Hawaiian royal home (which was basically like having a slumber party in a museum - still not sure how they trusted a bunch of young girls to not break anything), camping all over the island, meeting dignitaries from other countries, and having culture days where we learned about the different backgrounds of the girls who represented our troop.
The relationships built through Girl Scouts is the constant thread and the best memory. The laughter and sometimes childhood disagreements around who got the best camping cot, those are the moments that stick out. My former troop leader actually attended my bridal shower. Many, many, years after I was in her troop. She still keeps in contact with all the girls and has talked about having a reunion in Las Vegas (at least we wouldn't have to fight over cots!). I hope it works out. Either way, it's amazing to see how these relationships have stood the test of time.
I was the highest grossing cookie salesperson on my troop and had a badge for it. To this day, my family will joke about my strategic sales plan as a six-year-old. I could literally walk up to anyone and sell them a box of cookies. I even had my territories mapped out! That experience provided me with the strong skill and ability to sell my ideas, and the courage to pitch those ideas to anyone. I didn't realize this was a unique strength until others started commenting on my fierceness to go out and strike up a conversation. To me, it's completely natural. And I honestly think I got that from Girl Scouts!
Samoas are the best cookie! Hands down! Although I learned after moving to Iowa that in the Mid-West they're called Caramel deLights. The cookies are slightly different but both still give that delicious coconut, caramel, chocolate goodness I love.
I wanted to give an extra shout-out to some of my FemCity ladies and special supporters of the Girl Scouts! Left to right, a big thank you to Dr. Rebecca Lake of Shine Chiropractic, Michelle Swanson, and Kelsey Russell of Remax Precision Realty. (Not pictured is Trish of Trixie's Salon.)