Parents, keep your children informed
By Amy Watson
My daughter, Grace, is in her second year as a Girl Scouts. She is in first grade, meaning she is at the Daisy level. If you have seen girls wearing blue vests around town selling cookies or out in the park on a Saturday cleaning up litter, then you’ve experienced the palpable energy of a Daisy Girl Scout.
Being new to Girl Scouts, Daisies spend their first two years learning what it means to be a Girl Scout, predominantly through learning the Girl Scout law. Honest, fair, friendly, helpful, considerate, caring, courageous, strong, responsible, and respectful are all characteristics a girl promises to uphold when she lives under Girl Scout law, all with the chief goal of making the world a better place and being a sister to every Girl Scout.
Girl Scout troop leaders are encouraged to let the girls guide the trajectory of their experience. Being ‘girl-led’ is an integral part of what make Girl Scouting so impressionable and impactful for girls. In my Girl Scout troop, I try to foster a sense of power in my girls, teaching them that age is just a number and they can be a force for good.
Before a Girl Scout – or anyone, for that matter – can begin making an impact, they must understand the issues their communities are facing. These can be challenging conversations to have with an elementary school-aged child.
As parents, it is our first instinct to protect our children. I fully understand the inclination to shield your child from the big and seemingly insurmountable circumstances we face in our world every day. Often, when we hear about a young person taking action on a social issue, like Greta Thunberg’s eco-activism or Emma Gonzalez’s fight to end gun violence, and they’re discounted, or even worse, mocked and ridiculed.
I make it a priority to discuss current events, in an age appropriate way, with Grace, not only because I think it’s important to give her a safe space to discuss how she feels, but also because I believe she has the capability to create a better world.
Recently, the entire world stood at attention as news circulated about the wildfires devastating Australia. Grace loves animals and has big plans to be a veterinarian. When we sat down to discuss what was happening, her concern was for the thousands of animals that were displaced or injured in the wake of the widespread burning.
Networking through Girl Scouts, Grace and I reached out to the Australian Scouting Program, Girl Guides, to inquire about the needs and how we could be of assistance. They responded with a long list of ways girls around the globe could assist. Grace decided to create a pattern to sew mittens for the Koalas being treated for burns on their paws. She quickly discovered that hand sewing wasn’t going to be an efficient way to make the quantity of mittens necessary, so she asked me to teach her how to use a sewing machine. This brough down the average time taken to create each mitten down by half.
In the end, Grace spent over 20 hours making 83 pairs of mittens. Getting a 7-year-old to spend 20 minutes focusing on a task is a challenge, let alone hours. She understood the stakes and knew she could help.
In Girl Scouts, we teach the girls “you can change the world,” and sure, that can mean your school or your city, but we also really need to mean the entire world. Girls are looking for a way to make a difference – and not just ‘in their own backyard’.
I see that desire to help in Grace, so concerned about the Koalas, but I also see that in Grace’s Girl Scout troop, who jumped at the chance to help Grace by raising money for her mittens project. I see it in the Australian Girl Guides, who coordinated various efforts to help disaster relief organization in their country.
I see it in every child. As parent, we have a responsibility to protect our children, but we also have an opportunity to help them grow into caring and engaged citizens, who not only believe they have the power to change the world, but the tenacity to take action to make it happen.
Talk to your children about what is happening in our world, answer their questions, and empower their desire to change the circumstances. Let them know that even though they are small, the role they can play to make the future brighter for us all is big.