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Girl Scouts are Learning to Lead


Girls are Learning to Lead

CNN | I got so excited when my daughter touched a Madagascar hissing roach.

I wouldn't be so proud except she had been insisting for weeks that she wouldn't, couldn't, shouldn't have to earn the bug badge on her Girl Scout Brownie troop's agenda this year. Insects are gross. Yes, of course, bees are good for flowers, but no thanks on the badge she'd get for learning about bugs and other insects, said the 7-year-old, over and over.

My daughter is learning finance and business principles as she takes on more tasks for the annual cookie sales that fund her troop's activities, and now she's learning them in a 21st century way with mobile app capacity.

Along with Girl Scout troops around the country, hers is preparing to launch 2016 cookie sales this month. But here I was watching my daughter insist there's something she couldn't do: touch any insects on an upcoming troop trip.

That's why I had guessed she would sit out the presentation by a Fernbank Museum insect expert, who had booked a private room on a recent Sunday to show us three female roaches and answer all our 12-member troop's questions.

Except my child surprised me, getting in line to touch the roach, asking questions about what insects eat and how they communicate -- and seeing that women can be insect experts (entomologists). Already she's stepping out of her comfort zone, because that's what the parent volunteers and the girls in her troop do. (Bugs are a type of insect, but not all insects are bugs, I learn.)

Girls are receiving messages from everywhere -- beauty magazines, reality television, social media, the toy industry and their friends -- about what girls can and "should" do. Those messages aren't always healthy, positive or empowering.

They certainly don't involve touching a roach.

Countering those messages are Girl Scout troop leaders, telling my daughter's troop through their twice monthly meetings chock-full of activities and camping trips that she is capable of more. Even more than her parents could imagine for her.

"There's a moral compass that comes with being a Girl Scout," says Sheryl Guyon, troop leader of West Seattle Troop 40766. "It teaches a girl to be self-confident and take care of herself, and it gives her a good group of friends" ... Read the full story!