Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state in honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month. Carol Lucero of Thornton in the Metro Denver region leads an older girl troop in the Sunset Hills service unit. She and her troop do a very cool service project to send stars from retired flags to retiring service members and families of fallen service members. Carol is also a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.
GSCO asked Carol 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 Scout for a few years growing up. I remember selling cookies for $1/package, going to Girl Scout Camp, and walking to troop meetings after school. But, I more distinctly remember all the fun and events my three brothers did with Boy Scouts- long camping and hiking trips, service projects, their Eagle Awards. Both of my parents were heavily involved in Boy Scout Leadership roles and it shaped much of the family calendar. Girl Scouts kind of fell by the wayside once I switched schools and was no longer going to school with any of the girls in my troop. To be honest, I signed my daughter up for Girl Scouts in kindergarten, so I would have a cookie hook-up. After six years serving as cookie mom, our troop leader and her daughters quit. Over the years, I had come to know and love the Girl Scouts as my own girls and wanted them to continue growing in scouting and working towards their Gold Awards. So, four years ago, I volunteered to take over as troop leader, so I could continue sharing in Girl Scouts with my daughter and the other girls in the troop. Our Daisy Troop of 27 was six Cadettes with attrition. We’re now at three Seniors and one Cadette. Working with the four girls left in this troop has provided me an opportunity to double-down on efforts to find activities these ‘older girls’ will enjoy, that will keep their attention, that provide learning opportunities and most importantly, inspire selflessness and personal growth. I’ve pushed my daughter for 10 years to continue in Girl Scouts until she earns the Gold Award. I’ll continue to volunteer, and support her, until she reaches that lofty status.
Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.
I served as cookie mom for six years. For the past four years, I have been the troop leader, fall product program coordinator, and troop cookie manager for Troop 63979.
What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?
The biggest lesson I have learned from volunteering with Girl Scouts is it truly takes a village to raise and shape and inspire these girls to be leaders. I’m thankful for my small troop of four girls (sisters, plus two more) because I have their two amazing families supporting our efforts. The parents of our girls coordinate transportation, meeting times, badge curriculum, events, and every other “thing” that comes up. Our troop would not be successful if the parents didn’t help! I can always count on them to step up whenever I need another hand- driving down to the GSCO Shop for supplies, taking a CPR class to attend Cookie Camp, driving the event carpool, etc. Our three families are really one big family, having worked together for the past 10 years to support our girl’s efforts to earn the Gold Award. As troop leader, I’ve found I rely a great deal on the other troop leaders in my Service unit. For ideas, inspiration, encouragement, friendship, and even a kind ear when I need to unload about some trivial frustration. The women in Sunset Hills service unit are like my sisters- given I grew up with only brothers, I appreciate having relationships with women in my shoes. We all work in different career fields, come from varied backgrounds, and wide ranging experience, yet we work together to provide our girls opportunities to explore and wonder. I appreciate that when I need help, or am hosting an event, or put out a call to support a community service effort- the troop leaders in Sunset Hills respond. We are all vested in the success of each of our troops.
What do you hope girls have learned from you?
This is a loaded question. My greatest hope is that I have inspired my girls to push boundaries (appropriately), strive for personal excellence (in whatever path their heart chooses), to treat each other with love and kindness, and to never stop learning. In the past four years, we have done a great deal of badge work. The girls earned 21 Cadette badges and are working on Senior badge number six. Doing so has provided opportunities for them to step outside their comfort zones, respond to community issues by providing solutions, and explore topics they otherwise would not choose for themselves. The girls have planned and carried out three weekend camping trips with monies they’ve earned from selling thousands of packages of cookies. They’ve found common ground in their different hobbies and interests. They’ve asked hard questions of friends, parents, community members, and others. They’ve worked countless hours themselves to create a better world for themselves, their friends, their communities, and others. For example, we volunteered with the Rocky Mountain National Parks’ Road Hogs, a group of retired volunteers who work year round to keep RMNP going. Our girls worked side by side with the Hogs, shovels, backhoes, tractors, and all, to clear debris from Bear Lake Road one hot day in July.
Our troop founded Stars for Heroes in July 2016 in response to the murder of five Police Officers in Dallas, Texas. We collect retired American flags and repurpose the embroidered stars into pocket sized momentos to thank first responders and veterans for their service. In nearly two years, we have distributed more than 30,000 stars from more than 600 flags. This includes 50 stars each that we have mailed to the agencies of the 429 fallen heroes since Dallas. We meet monthly for our troop meeting, but also usually monthly to process stars.
Additionally, the girls have submitted an entry to the City of Thornton Outside the Box Traffic Mural project based on their work with the Senior Journey, Girltopia. This Journey called upon the girls to imagine, inspire, and create a world perfect for girls and to share that Girltopia with others. We’re on the edge of our seats as we won’t know until the end of the month if their submission was selected. This is just another example of young women creating change and inspiring hope.
How has your experience as a volunteer helped you become a G.I.R.L.?
As a classic Type-A extrovert, I’ve always had a tendency to push the limits, speak up for myself, chase dreams and try new things. Being a troop leader has allowed me to model this same thirst for life to the girls in my troop. Being a go-getter means encouraging my girls to pursue their passions, to find their niche and develop it. Two of my girls have their black belt in karate. One of my girls is an accomplished artist. The other a talented dancer. They all do well academically. They get up, and they go. Being the troop leader for Girl Scout Seniors is the biggest challenge to being an innovator. How do I keep their attention? How do I meld their varied interests and talents? How do I keep them engaged in Girl Scouting? By working with the other moms, we brainstorm and then provide outside the box chances for our girls to keep growing, learning, and sharing. We give the girls a great deal of choice to decide what badges to earn, what SU events to participate in, and what programs to get involved in with the community to make a difference. I believe being a risk-taker and a leader go hand in hand, you can’t really be one and not the other. I have to demonstrate to my girls what it looks like to make hard choices, volunteer my talents, and have a positive work ethic, so they witness first hand that women really can have it all, and cake too. I work full time, I volunteer full time, I drive the carpool and chaperone to activities five nights per week. I think its important to demonstrate to these girls, our future leaders, that everything is possible. I’m excited to watch their talents blossom, their passions cement and their personalities come to life. They are each so unique and different, but have come to love and respect each other through the years. Not only are we building future leaders, we’re solidifying lifelong friendships. I may be super busy, but being a troop leader for these girls means I make them and their best interests a priority.
Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org.