By Linda Zakrzewski
I made a conscious decision to wait at least a week before I offered my opinion on the Boy Scouts decision to invite girls to join their ranks. I wanted my response to be written without haste and emotion. First of all, let it be clear that this is a Boy Scout thing. It is not a Girl Scout thing. Girl Scouts is committed to its program to give the girls an autonomous atmosphere in which to nurture members to grow with courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place. We are not and have never been threatened or have felt that we are in competition with Boy Scouts.
I am a committed member of both organizations. I have been an adult member of Boy Scouts since my son was a Tiger Scout. I am the proud mother of an Eagle Scout. I have held many roles in Boy Scouts and continue to volunteer (even though I mentally quit everything Boy Scouts last week – hence why I waited).
I have been a Girl Scout for 31 years and an adult volunteer for the past 20 years. I am a proud mother of a Gold Girl Scout. I have held many roles in Girl Scouts including, but not limited to, leader, service unit manager, camp director and council trainer. I lead two troops of middle school students at Buffalo’s School 81. I also have a high school troop of School 81 alumni. There is nothing more rewarding than sharing a campfire, a hike, a s’more or a song with my students.
The reason that I am so committed to Girl Scouts is that I am a mother and an educator. It is my life mission to teach girls to be powerful. I have seen too many of my female students fall short of their potential because they lack the tools to reach their full potential. There is absolutely no better way to help these girls obtain true power than the Girl Scout program. I am convinced of this. Their testaments throughout the years affirm this belief. The successes that I see each and every time I work with the Girl Scouts confirms this belief.
That being said, each and every day at least one of my male students asks me if either they can join Girl Scouts or if I could please do Boy Scouts. Only a couple of my male students are in Scouts, but they want it. They beg for it. They see what I offer the girls and they want to be a part of it. They want to go on cool trips and they want to go to camp, too. This is, I’m sure, the same for some girls. Some are begging to join Boy Scouts. You see, there are some very good Girl Scout troops and there are some not so good. There are some very good Boy Scout troops and there are some not so good.
So my dear Girl Scout and Boy Scout volunteer friends: you are doing a wonderful job. Keep it up – step it up. Kids will be drawn to the program that best serves their needs. Give them that program. Use the community resources out there to help deliver the program. Use the council resources and opportunities. Both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts offer fantastic programs. The volunteers deliver the program. So it is your job to offer the very best you have to give. Everything else will take care of itself as long as we are serving our youth. Isn’t that what we signed up for?
Linda Zakrzewski is Girl Scout troop leader for Troops 30074, 30134, 30795 and 31500, and Clarence service unit manager.