Janet Castrejon went to a Girl Scout recruitment event when her daughter was in kindergarten, with no intention of becoming a troop leader. She had fond memories of her own Girl Scout experience as a girl and wanted the same fun and friendship for her daughter. When she learned that there wasn’t a troop for her age group at her school, she decided to start her own.
“At the time, I didn’t see the big picture of the mission of Girl Scouts,” Janet said. “Since then, however, I have learned more about the Girl Scout organization and seen how, as the girls progress from one stage in Girl Scouts to another, they learn skills, develop confidence, and become leaders.”
Janet expressed that she has seen the benefits that both girls and volunteers have received from Girl Scouts, and that it motivates her to continuously put effort into everything she does. Her daughter, who on Janet’s account used to be quite shy, has grown in confidence with the leadership experience that Girl Scouts provides. She now continuously ventures outside of her comfort zone, taking on responsibilities such as leading workshops for younger girls and pursuing her Gold Award.
“I can’t believe the young women in my troop are the same little Daisies that I started with,” Janet said. “When the girls were Daisies, we had a kaper chart with rotating responsibilities. Each girl had a small role in the meeting, such as coming up with the “Sharing Circle” question or adding new transactions into the troop ledger (a spiral notebook) to determine how much money we had in the troop account. As they’ve grown, their control over the meetings has also grown. Now I just throw all of the information about the badges out on the table. They decide what they want to do and how we will do it. I am now just a facilitator to help put their plans into action.”
When asked about some of her favorite memories with Girl Scouts, Janet said it was hard to just pick one. Among an overnight at the Santa Barbara Zoo and Disneyland, her troop has had a myriad of experiences that they might not have had the opportunity to do otherwise. “I remember going to an event in Santa Barbara where my daughter and I learned about the Chumash Indian culture, and we even got to try a Chumash dessert made from acorns,” she said. “Even for activities that we do on our own as a troop, the Girl Scout name opens doors. When I call a place and say that I would like to bring my Girl Scout troop, people know and respect the organization and welcome us.”
If her girls were to obtain anything from their experience with the program, Janet hopes that it’s their passion for community service. “I try to include at least one idea for a community service activity that girls can do in the service unit newsletter each month,” Janet said. “I think doing community service as a kid becomes a habit which will continue when they are an adult.” Even as Daisies, she remembers the girls’ uncontainable excitement as they collected donations for a food bank outside of a grocery store (so much that the leaders had to keep the girls from jumping in front of customers!).
“Girl Scouts is many things,” Janet said. “For the girls it’s friendship, fun, learning new skills, and developing confidence. Girl Scouts promotes good community values through the Girl Scout Promise and Law. It inspires girls to dream big and helps teach them the skills to make those dreams come true.”
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