Six years ago, I thought my journey as a Brownie Troop leader had come to an end. I had worked with an amazing group of 12 little girls who’d become young women right before my eyes as we played, adventured, crafted, laughed, learned and gave back together, all the way from Daisies through Juniors. Our troop had made the decision to move on to other things as Middle School was looming, and extracurricular activities were now taking center stage for most. To be honest, although relieved that meeting planning, badges, permission slips and snacks were now going to be behind me, I felt sad and wondered if I had done enough to help reinforce the important messages of positive self-esteem, confidence and leadership that I had wanted for those girls.
Because the world works in amazing ways, I was soon approached by Leslie Dixon, Founder of the Birds & Bees Connection, a group that I work for as an Educator in other mother/daughter classes. Leslie shared that they had been asked by the Girl Scouts of Orange County to develop a workshop especially for Brownies and their moms to focus on the concepts included in the My Best Self Badge such as: staying healthy, understanding / managing feelings and finding “health helpers.” I can’t remember exactly what I said in response but I’m sure it involved dancing around my kitchen in celebration. Baby, I was back!
In the late summer of 2018, our first My Best Self Badge Workshops for Brownies began throughout Orange County, and they took off quickly! Seven days per week, we would meet in people’s houses, at schools, churches, community rooms, libraries, the Girl Scout Houses or anywhere that would accommodate the lively, energetic and curious groups of girls and mothers who gathered to learn from one another about being and doing their best. Now, a year later, MBS has been in over 15 Orange County cities and over 300 girls have completed the class, earning their My Best Self Badges.
One of my favorite parts of each session is when the girls work with their moms to create a list of things that they consider special about themselves, but others can’t see or are not visible on the outside. I see girls proudly announcing, “I’m dyslexic” or “I have a nut allergy” or “I speak three languages” or “I’m on an all-boy robotics team, and I’m really good!” We all smile and cheer together, and often I see instant connections form between troop members and moms who are now beaming with pride.
For me personally, having the opportunity to work with young girls and moms has been extremely rewarding because I know (as a mom) how school politics, social pressure, social media and stress negatively affect girls today. As parents, we try to be mindful, open to communicate and sensitive to our daughters’ experiences because we remember what it can be like…. ugh! Sometimes, though, we just don’t know what to say.
Because the My Best Self Badge Workshop for Brownies brings moms and girls together, it sends girls a clear message that moms are there for the girls. Just by showing up, moms are in a sense saying: “I got this. We’ll figure it out together.” The My Best Self Badge Workshop for Brownies lets girls show what they already know about feelings, taking care of themselves and how to be a good friend, yet has also helped shine a light on what we need to do more of: celebrating and respecting individual differences and helping girls to feel empowered.
As I am gearing up for another school year full of My Best Self Badge Workshops for Brownies, I’m eager to meet even more amazing girls and moms who are committed to being their best!