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Starting Girl Scouts at a Young Age
As young girls grow, Girl Scouts offers a comfortable place to learn about themselves.
The girls in the group I advise are 16 years old, and I no longer have to worry about them jumping from the top of the playhouse in our meeting room or spinning around until they're too dizzy to stand up. But I can vividly remember when they were five years old and one of my jobs was helping them put the three middle fingers of their right hand up as they proudly recited the Girl Scout Promise. What else did they learn during those early years? Much more than they probably realized.
Girls may join Girl Scouts at any time from kindergarten to the end of high school. And no matter when they get involved, they'll gain something important from the experience. While a couple of girls in my group have been Girl Scouts from the time they were five, one girl just started last year and now she's excited about working on her Girl Scout Gold Award. But most girls get involved during the early elementary school years, and the benefits show up right away.
At Her Own Pace
As Daisy Girl Scouts, these five- and six-year-olds may, for the first time, have a group experience where they learn how to share their feelings and to stand up for themselves. They have opportunities to work on new skills, whether learning to grow a garden or role-playing how to make an emergency phone call. It doesn't matter how many tries it takes to develop a skill, the adults who work with Daisies have been trained to understand that each girl is an individual who learns at her own pace and in her own special way. Being accepted is key to the Daisy experience, allowing girls to feel they belong and to know it is okay if they make mistakes—and that they can and should have fun while they're learning.
As girls go on to the Brownie Girl Scout age-level, they have new opportunities to build on what they've already experienced in Girl Scouting. They're becoming more self-confident, ready to take on new roles, and test out different skills. The friendships they made as Daisy Girl Scouts are deepening, but they're also learning to accept new girls into their troop. They're ready to really put the Girl Scout Promise and Law into action, whether it's appreciating how girls in other countries live or by entertaining at a senior center at holiday time. The girls in my troop have fond memories of the years when they sang old-fashioned love songs and distributed hand-made valentines to celebrate a holiday that otherwise would have gone unnoticed at the nursing home where we made our annual visits.
By the time girls are at the Junior Girl Scout age level—nine or so—they are sophisticated enough to take on leadership roles and begin to think about how they can impact community issues. Through their earlier Girl Scout experiences, they've learned how to respect different viewpoints in discussions. Now, they're working together to organize events and plan trips. And they're getting ready for the exciting STUDIO 2B experiences that await them as teens in Girl Scouting.
Do the early Girl Scout years represent more than singing simple songs and harnessing excess energy? You bet. These years set the stage for lifelong friendships, never-before-tried experiences, and enduring partnerships with adults.