Volunteer Spotlight: Rusty Merill

Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Rusty Merill of Woodland Park in the Pikes Peak region was nominated by a GSCO staff member as a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.

GSCO asked Rusty to answer a few quick questions about her volunteer experience. We hope you find her as inspiring as we did.

Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?

I was a girl member for 10 years, started as a Brownie in 1948, and continued through INTERMEDIATES, and Seniors, receiving my Curved Bar award in 1957. I enjoyed Girl Scouting so much, I wanted to continue and share it with other girls.

Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.

Assistant leader to an Intermediate troop, leader of one of the first JUNIOR troops in Jamestown, N.Y in 1963, then was leader of Brownie, Junior, Cadette and Senior troops, including being the Skipper of Mariner Ship 10 in Newport, R.I. Camping was was kept me in Girl Scouting, so became a camp counselor, unit leader, riding counselor at Tomahawk Ranch, program specialist, program director, and camp director at Girl Scout camps around the U.S. Have also been a Neighborhood Chairperson, Troop Consultant, Council Delegate to local council and national council meetings, and Master Council Trainer and curriculum design, a role I still hold.

What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?

That you learn as much as the girls,  you make hundreds of lifetime friends, and you learn how to be FLEXIBLE and keep your sense of humor even in the middle of a disaster!

What do you hope girls have learned from you? 

That it really IS COOL to be a Girl Scout, no matter your age.  You get to experience wonderful opportunities, make lifetime friends, and learn skills that help you your entire life!

I recently reconnected with a former troop member on Facebook, and renewed a friendship after an absence of over 50 years!

How has your experience as a volunteer helped you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

G-I was very shy as a young girl, but being in Girl Scouting helped me gain confidence, that has carried over to my adult life. Now I am able to lead a group, teach skills, and speak to a large group.

I.Innovator-I have learned by trial and error, not afraid to learn from my mistakes, and how to be creative, especially in primitive camping, when you realize you don’t always have what you need. We devised an “architectural victory” on a backpacking trip, when we were on a 10 day donkey pack trip and it rained for 7 days, using our creative GS skills.

RISK TAKER-As a Girl Scout, you can be faced with a lot of challenges, either as a girl or adult, but the skills and experiences you learn as a girl or adult Girl Scout, helps you face new things with courage and confidence. I love trying new experiences!

LEADER-In the old program, troop government was the basis of all Girl Scouting, so I learned leadership when I became a PATROL LEADER, and eventually a TROOP PRESIDENT, and a member of the STATEWIDE SENIOR PLANNING BOARD. All these experiences continued to build on my leadership skills which continues in my adult life in and out of Girl Scouting.

As a retired teacher, and a current camp and outdoor professional, all my leadership skills have helped me in my varied careers of teaching, recreation, physical therapy, and above all camping and outdoor skills.
Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.