I am a Girl Scout. I haven’t been an active Girl Scout in years… I became “other directed.” Still, I think of being a Girl Scout the way my Uncle Brian thought of being a Marine. You never “stop” – it is always part of who you are – there are no ex-Marines. For me there is no being an ex-Girl Scout. Now believe me, I know plenty of ex-Girl Scouts. Some women I know roll their eyes at the mention of being a Girl Scout because their experience was so bad – too many puff ball crafts and not enough serious training and experience.
My Scouting experience was GREAT. It was rich and fulfilling – so much so that even though I tried other activities in high school, like Civil Air Patrol and Rainbow Girls, I never found enough time to devote to those activities because I enjoyed and loved my Girl Scout experience so much. At 16 in 1969, I went on a Girl Scout Wider Opportunity to San Diego. One of the many things we did was take a launch to a helicopter carrier in the San Diego harbor. As we went out to the helicopter carrier, the USS Hornet was coming in to port from having picked up the Apollo 11 astronauts after returning from the Moon. This is an experience I will never forget, it is as fresh as the day it happened, and one that I would not have had if I had not been a Girl Scout.
By the time I was 18, I had built an entire campsite out of sticks, fallen tree branches and twine, performed several dozen search and rescue drills, certified as a first aid trainer, CPR trainer, waterfront trainer, and camp counselor. I had organized volunteer efforts for several local charities, represented my state at national conferences, presented my experiences to younger women in their troops, served as patrol leader at my troop level and troop leader at national wider opportunities, and achieved the Girl Scouts’ highest award, First Class Scout – now known as the Gold Award. Like I said, my Scouting experience was rich and full.
Wednesday’s tragedy at the Iowa Boy Scout Camp was painful to watch because of the precious lives that were lost. And yet, I cannot tell you how proud I was of those young men, some as young as 13, who cared for their injured, performed first aid on themselves and others, attempted rescue of those trapped in the fallen buildings, and performed as only Scouts can…
Are they heroes? Well, to hear them talk, no… they were doing what they were trained to do. Those young men knew what to do and did it. That, my friends is what being a Scout is all about. So are they heroes? To me, yes they are. Why? Because they had the courage and the gumption to continue as Boy Scouts in spite of all the other things that are available to do (both good and bad) for kids these days.
Scouting may not be the most glamorous activity kids have available to them today, but it is the most useful.
I extend my deepest sympathy to the families of the young men who were killed in this tragedy. I honor the young men for being Good Scouts. Continue that and you will be Good Humans.