It’s funny how some perceptions don’t change around the world. Just before I was about to leave my dorm room one Saturday morning, I bumped into a friend. He, of course, asked me what I was up to and where I was going. My response: “I’m going to help out with the Girl Scout group we have on campus.” I got a scoff in response, and then a question: “does it not get to you that people laugh at you for doing Girl Scouts?”
In one way or another I have pretty much always been involved with Girl Scouts (or Girl Guiding – the British version). My commitment has spanned troops in 3 different countries over 12 years. Many people join Girl Scouts as young girls, but year after year less members remain. I have stayed involved because I just never got to a point where I thought I had accomplished everything I could in the organisation. As years pass I receive more judgmental looks, but I gain more reasons why I am still a Girl Scout.
To answer my friend’s question, yes it sometimes gets to me that people laugh at me and judge me for being part of an organisation like Girl Scouts, but I certainly am used to it. The perceptions in the UK are very similar to here in the US. The preconceived ideas usually come out in questions like “so don’t you just knit and bake stuff?” Well yes, I have knitted (a teddy bear to give to young children in hospitals), and yes I have baked (for a bake sale to raise money for our troop). But I have also done so much more. I've learned how to build a shelter out of just sticks and leaves and I spoke at the current British government political party conference about the importance of healthy relationships. I've run a 10k to raise money for the elderly in my area and I've played mini-golf along the sea-front in Spain. I've camped in below freezing conditions and been trekking in Switzerland. After 12 years I have done so much more than just knitting and baking.
And now, I get to help young girls have all of the same opportunities that I had. It’s given me the chance to develop into the person I am today, to make friends, and just generally have a lot of fun.
It’s often easy to judge people from what they are a part of, or simply judge them based on what they like. But it’s important to realize that often those preconceptions aren't really that true.