Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state in honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month. Wendy Anderson of Aurora in the Metro Denver region is a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.
GSCO asked Wendy 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 became a Girl Scout volunteer when I was in college. Unbelievably, that was over 25 years ago! I was a Girl Scout since second grade and I wanted to be the person other girls could look up to, the way I looked up to the Girl Scout volunteers and Girl Scout staff in my life growing up. I led troops in Wisconsin and Colorado before I had my own children, and I thought I was done being a Girl Scout volunteer once I got pregnant with my daughter. Then, one day when my daughter was in preschool, we were walking out of King Soopers and there was a Girl Scout troop selling cookies at a booth sale. My daughter said, “Mom, what are they doing? I want to do that!” So, we started the first Girl Scout troop anyone could remember at our elementary school that next fall.
Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.
I’ve been a troop leader, cookie manager, service unit manager, event organizer, council trainer, and most recently, I have appointed myself service unit camp director. I love camping and worked at Girl Scout day camps and resident camps through college. I’m excited about all the badges and Journeys GSUSA has launched focused on camping and the out of doors. I’m looking forward to giving other troop leaders a progression of outdoor experiences to help girls get excited about camping in safe incremental steps. Different growth happens in girls when we get them away from their usual life and get them outside! Our service unit has never done a service unit camp before, and I thought that giving our unit an intentional structure to get troops ready for a unit camp, and leading our first service unit camp is something I could get excited about.
What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?
There is always something new to try in Girl Scouting. The girls have great ideas on things they want to do, and there is a lot of adult support to help you learn new things to help your girls reach their goals. There have been times when the girls’ ideas have taken me out of my comfort zone. There have been times when I thought to myself, “That idea is absolutely ridiculous, how are we going to do that?” But, it turns out those experiences ended up being the best in the end.
For instance, during our first Daisy year, I learned that our usual meeting place was going to be unavailable during our using resources wisely petal. I thought I had a perfectly planned solution of visiting the library during this meeting. After all, libraries were a great example of using resources wisely we can share books instead of buying them, what could be more appropriate. The girls thought that was an awful idea. After talking about what it meant to use resources wisely, the girls decided they wanted to see where their trash goes. I made a few calls and we found there was a field trip to a Waste Management education center that fit perfectly.
Later in fifth grade, we had some girls who wanted to focus on breast cancer for their bronze award project. Again, I didn’t know what to do; this certainly wasn’t an interest of mine. The girls were able to discover, connect, and take action by learning more about breast cancer from a health care provider and connecting with a Susan G. Komen volunteer who taught us more about how their organization supports people with breast cancer and about Scouting for the Cure events that are held in other states. This time I didn’t make the calls to find resources like I needed to do when they were kindergartners. It is so great when girls fly with ideas on their own. The girls took their bronze project in one direction, and this topic actually became a new interest of mine. I used some of the other ideas we learned about to host breast cancer awareness events for our service unit.
What do you hope girls have learned from you?
It’s always good to try new things. Things might not always go right, and that’s okay. Evaluate what was good and not so good in each experience, and aim for something better next time.
How has your experience as a volunteer helped you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
By trying new things, and allowing girls to try their new ideas, I can set that example of someone the girls can look up to, just like I set out to do 25 years ago. It is harder to go after girls’ ideas, especially when it means setting aside ideas that seem so perfect, at least in my own head. It is harder to innovate new ways to be a Girl Scout that don’t always fit into a badge. Trying new things is inherently risky and messy, but nothing we can’t clean up. Leading girls to take over leadership in their own troop takes tiny steps and time, and we never feel like there is enough time. Being an example of how to be a G.I.R.L brings out the G.I.R.L in all the members of my troop.
Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The nomination deadline for 2020 Volunteer Recognition Awards is April 30. GSCO invites members statewide to take this opportunity to recognize an outstanding volunteer by nominating them for a Volunteer Recognition Award. Nominators are responsible for ensuring enough endorsements are submitted to support their nomination of a volunteer for an award. Your volunteer support specialist can check nomination and endorsement submissions for you. Learn more.