In my new role leading the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, I’m excited to share with you my first blog post as CEO – kicking off the start of a new monthly blog message – just one way to stay connected with me. You’ll find them right here on the GSWCF website home page every month, as well as in various e-newsletters and on social media. Don’t forget to connect with me:
I love to write and connect with people. I hope you find these messages from me to be a reflection of how I share your passion for empowering girls and my experiences leading this amazing organization. So here goes!
During my first thirty days as CEO, I embarked on two transitions: my journey with the Girl Scouts (my dream job) and the second, being brave enough to send my oldest daughter to sleep away camp for four weeks in July. Many of you have also sent your daughter(s) off to their first, second or third, daytime-only or sleep-away camp experience and can share some lessons with me! I learned a great deal from these experiences and their parallels.
The adventure starts in the preparation. Getting ready to take on this new role and preparing my daughter for camp was an adventure in itself. The incredible team here at Girl Scouts of West Central Florida provided me with great information to get up to speed as much as I could before my first day. I also put a great deal of effort into preparing my daughter for camp. Packing her trunk was a tall order and so was trying to close it once we stuffed it full of her supplies! I also wanted to be sure that she had inspiration each day so I wrote her daily “camp notes and quotes” to provide her a little piece of my love each morning.
Digging deep for my courage. It wasn’t easy to let her go. I knew she would grow from this experience, but this was the first time that she’d be away from home for a significant period of time. Her early letters were a little tough as she was homesick, but letters from her counselors told me that she was having the best time. I had to show her my courage in letting her go so she could find her courage and grow. It was this same courage that has helped me in these first days at the Council and as I began my leadership of this high-impact organization.
Embracing the opportunity for growth. I felt the void of her presence missing in my life each day, but transitioning to this incredible new role kept me upbeat. The staff and volunteers really helped me with stories of camp and sharing of fond memories. Visiting our properties and seeing girls in our council enjoy camp made my heart so happy. I knew my daughter surely was having a similar experience. When I finally picked my daughter up from camp, seeing how she grew and learned more about herself was incredible. Pushing ourselves outside of the boundaries of our comfort zone is where we grow and learn. She caught 17 fish. She won the "little biologist" award for her love of nature. She rode horses every day. She bathed in a cold Wisconsin lake for an entire month! These are experiences that will last her a lifetime. As our Girl Scout camp season just came to a close, I know many of you heard similar stories of personal growth and new friendships. While visiting Camp Scoutcrest, I spent lunch with the girls telling me all about their skiing experiences at camp, the contests they won as a team, and listening to them talk about how they admired their camp counselors.
Celebrating traditions. Visiting Camp Dorothy Thomas brought back many memories of my camp experience there many years ago. Walking into the cabins I once stayed in and thinking about the fun experiences I had there. One of my fondest memories was the camp songs. Those songs quickly came back to me as I started my new role. My daughter sang ALL of the songs she learned her first night back with me. I admire the traditions and values we have upheld for more than a century. Girls in Girl Scouts are part of a 50 million+ network of women who share a foundation of Girl Scout values influenced by these early experiences in life and common thread that ties us together. This is just one of the many ways Girl Scouts grows girls into tremendous leaders. I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes and look forward to sharing more next month:
"I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees." Thoreau