For Colleen McDaniel, editor in chief of Cruise Critic—a Tripadvisor-owned website for cruise enthusiasts—Girl Scouts was where she first developed deep friendships with other girls and discovered the power of those connections.
“Today, I know that personally and professionally, [women] need to advocate for one other and support each other,” she explains. “But Girl Scouts is where I first learned about the importance of having female allies.”
Colleen, who grew up in Wisconsin, was part of some very craft-oriented Brownie and Junior troops, where she made Christmas decorations that retain their place of pride in her parents’ home, even today.
“In my troop, there were special friendships that started early. Over the years we fell into different cliques, but we always had that Girl Scout connection,” she explains.
She found similar kinship at Girl Scout camp, where the focus was on swimming. There, she met girls from all over the state.
“It was the first time I went somewhere and didn’t know anybody,” she explained, adding that none of her troopmates chose the same camp. “I met new people and was forced to learn how to form friendships and bond.”
Upon arrival at camp, the campers took swim evaluation tests to determine their levels. The results were disappointing for Colleen and it’s a memory that still sticks with her.
“I realized I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. I didn’t make the excelled group,” she explains. “But the other girls helped to lift me up and it helped me a lot. I wasn’t taking on that disappointment by myself.”
“And having girls at different levels helped me become a better, more confident swimmer,” she recalls.
It was a lesson that lasted for Colleen
“As a little girl you’re not using the words ‘allies’ or ‘advocacy,’ but that’s what it is,” she says.
Today, Colleen says she looks for ways to lift other women up in her career, participating in mentorship programs at both Cruise Critic and Tripadvisor.
“I think that it’s a responsibility to help the next generation in the work force and the kids who are just coming out of high school,” she explains. “I want to help women grow, and I mentor where I can. I look for opportunities to help people figure out how to navigate this crazy world.”