Last night we had our Girl Scout troop’s last Court of Awards and Bridging Ceremony. Four young ladies were “inducted” to the vast group of Adult Girl Scouts. (We have one girl who has another year of Girl Scouts, but council rules dictate that a troop needs to have more than one girl, so she will become “Independent” for the next year.)
Preparing for last night was difficult for me, for various reasons. This particular group is not big on ceremony and we have run things very informally. (In fact, inscribed in the card they gave me last night was this: “We are grateful. As a leader you reminded us there must be Laughter, Excitement, Acceptance, Determination, Encouragement and Ridiculousness.”) Although I recognize that the initial letters influenced the word choices, the Ridiculousness seems terribly appropriate. This informalness made many of the traditional ceremonies seem stuffy and forced, or on the other hand over-the-top sentimental and just plain mushy. My other issue, of course, is my own sentimentality. Not only have I grown very attached to this goofy crew whom I have gotten to spend the past 6 to 8 years with (not counting my own daughter of course), this also marks the end of a 13 year run as I hang up my leader hat, at least for a little while.
Over the past week, I have gone through countless photos, choosing which ones to include in a slide show commemorating the girls’ Girl Scout careers and it has been fun watching them grow up all over again. They have pushed and challenged me and I have learned as much from them as they have from me. We have had adventures, such as zip lining and white water rafting (3 times) and some frightening moments, such as watching them fall out of the raft, into the raging river, relying on others to help them out of the water, knowing that I had to make sure the rest of the girls in the raft stayed safe (and that I had to stay there as well to avoid total panic). There have been challenges, such as starting cooking fires in the rain, hiking back to camp through downpours (knowing that there was a tornado watch in the area) and the inevitable issues that come with having several strong personalities in one group. In recent years, our biggest challenge has been scheduling. This is a very accomplished group with very diverse interests who are always busy. Despite this, I had well over 200 slides of photos (with more than one photo on most slides) documenting our adventures.
I have known for some time that last night would be tough for me. I am very proud of these girls and the smart, accomplished young women they have become. As is true with all girls I know who have graduated from the program, they will go on “to make the world a better place.” But, I will miss them. Even the way I had a tough time getting them focused on a task or even getting a word in sometimes. Over the years, they have at times been difficult, but they have made me smile, and even laugh out loud – A LOT!
I will also miss helping them plan events and watching as they figure things out, such as how to set up a tent or adapting when an essential item is left off the camp shopping list, or even which direction to walk in the city to get to our destination. I think it is likely that I will be a troop leader again. In fact, my daughter is counting on it in the event she someday has daughters. For now, I will remain active in the area, supporting other leaders and maybe planning the occasional multi-troop event. Oh, and taking pictures. I love taking pictures.