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The Paradox of Girl Scouts

What a beautiful autumn across our council; from the fruit trees in the southwest portion of our Council showing the first signs of fall to the quaking aspen in their full golden regalia in the northern Idaho panhandle, it has been a crisp and colorful October thus far. As I drive to visit so many Girl Scouts engaged in fall activities, I thought of how paradoxical Girl Scouts can contrary which is odd for a very traditional program  The fall is the most clarion time showing this contrariness when winter, early morning frosts, and colder temperatures are telling Mother Nature to slow down. 

But for Girl Scouts, we are full speed ahead!

Indeed, the fall is by far our busiest time as Girls return to school and parents look for new adventures for their children to partake in.  Last fall for our Council was like a killing frost.  With online schools and much of society working from home, it was simply hard to connect and we suffered greater than 70% losses in new Girl recruitment.  We credit all the diehard families who looked us up last year to start an adventure—2021 was a roller coaster year but finished on a thrilling ride with an over-the-top cookie season and sold-out summer camp experience.  This year, while the pandemic continues to throttle life in so many ways, it has still been a much more normal recruiting season for us. 

Indeed, even with many back-to-school events canceled, my incredible team of recruiters sewed new seeds of Girl Scout growth in libraries in parks and community centers.  West Plains outside of Spokane is one such example where volunteers like Elisa Rodriguez helped my team find so many new Girl Scouts around every nook and corner and introduced them to the adventure that awaits.  My own troop doubled in size. Spring growth is right in front of us despite leaves falling everywhere.  Albert Camus' poetic quote is entirely apropos for us: “A second spring when every leaf a flower.”  Our flowers are growing even as temperatures plummet and yes, Girl Scouts continue to be a Council where Girls grow strong.

This week our burgeoning Girl Scout Pathfinder program also reminds me of the paradox of Girl Scouts. 

The community financially supports us to build Girl Scout Pathfinder troops as we provide staff to run these new troops in schools where families are looking for opportunities for their Girls. 

Traditionally, our program can be very dependent on volunteers to make the program run so when we can provide the assist internally it opens up the opportunity for many more Girls.  Our ambitious Girl Scout Pathfinding program does so much for many and we have expanded to 10 schools now in Spokane where a few years ago we were in but a few.  This fall, for the first time ever, we hope to grow a Girl Scout Pathfinding program in Tricities.  We call it Girl Scout Pathfinding because we hope to give a new path of courage, confidence and character to Girls in communities challenged by stark socioeconomics and thus not able to offer traditional Girl Scouting.

I was able to meet with two Girl Scout Pathfinder troops this week and chat with the Girls on their hopes and interests.  They were remarkable with so much optimism and excitement for the new school year, both Daisies and Brownies. One Girl looked at me in the eyes and happily said: “I have never been a Girl Scout.”  I looked back and said: “You are now!”  She smiled with a smile as big as the Columbia River.  It reminded me of the paradox of Girl Scouts.  Our youngest Girls give me so much hope for the future. 

I have been so happy all week, and not just because the kaleidoscope of fall colors makes our world such a beautiful place.  No, just as we provide a path forward for our Girls....they pathfind for me.    Yes, the paradox of Girl Scouts.  Growth in autumn and new opportunity for our youngest Girls. 

A beautiful thing.  There is only one Council of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.  We are a Council where Girls grow strong all year long.