Meet James Aguilar, leader of Brownie Troop 65417 in Simi Valley. Originally from Bakersfield, California, James has been a heavy equipment operator for the past 15 years. He is a single father and enjoys the company of his three kids, Adam, Jaden, and Isabella. No stranger to a big family (he is just one out of 11 siblings), he recently adopted a new kind of family: eleven girls in 2nd and 3rd grade that call him their Girl Scout troop leader.
James decided to take on this role after his nine-year-old daughter, Isabella, had been on a waiting list to be placed into a troop for a prolonged period of time. While on a disability leave from work and doing physical therapy on his back, he took advantage of the extra time on his hands and accepted the invitation to become his daughter’s troop leader.
There is no doubt in his mind that the commitment of his time and energy was worth it.
In terms of his daughter’s growth, he says she has benefited greatly. “She has learned to be an equal friend to all the other girls, and to encourage the shy ones to come out of their shells.”
James has taken his troop on all sorts of adventures including ice skating, fishing, camping, archery, and visits to fire stations. He even coached them in the Brownie Olympics, a sports day that includes troop parades, opening and closing ceremonies, and awards for the participants. The girls, decked out in matching T-shirts, named themselves the “Unicorn Squad” for the games.
Dedicated to using his involvement to empower young females, James says “We inspire and encourage all our girls to lead. To use their gifts and accomplishments to inspire their fellow Girl Scouts.”
To James, Girl Scouts means “giving my daughter and all the other girls a head start in both the camping world and in making the world a better place.” If he could have his troop members and Girl Scouts everywhere take one key life lesson from the program, it would be to “take the lead in your life.”
With his background in mechanics and construction, he plans on teaching his troop life skills that will allow them to be independent, including basic vehicle maintenance, welding, and plumbing. He says, “[the troop leaders] want our girls to have a full range of experiences to give them an edge for the rest of their lives. Girl Scouts rule!”
James has not only given the girls in his troop some great memories, but he’s also gained quite a few himself. “I’ve learned that I have a soft heart for the girls in our troop. Despite all of the different backgrounds, I have found a spirit within myself to be there for our girls.”
When asked why volunteering was worth his time, James said “The smiles of accomplishment on our girls’ faces. The memories they make as a troop. Others should volunteer because the need is great, and the rewards are too! It’s all for the girls. They are an amazing group and all of the time, work, and effort put in by myself and our co-leaders is worth every minute.”
Ninety-five percent of volunteers say they make girls’ lives better at Girl Scouts (and that makes them happy). Make a difference in a girl’s life today by helping them to discover a world of new experiences, learn new skills, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Become a Girl Scout volunteer.
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