Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state in honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month. Shawnda Staten of Fort Lupton in the Northern & Northeastern CO region is a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.
GSCO asked Shawnda 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 at 18, so I could work at a resident camp after I graduated high school and then it just worked out that I was needed for my little cousins troop as a co-leader, so she could do all the “cool stuff” (her words not mine) that I got to do growing up. Then, a very short time later my daughter was old enough and wanted to be in Girl Scouts and of course, we had no leaders, so it just happened and then I had another daughter ten years later who wanted to be a Girl Scout too. I had to start a new troop for her and when I thought I was going to take some other roles in council, I was blessed with a granddaughter, so I haven’t changed roles just yet because now I am honored to be her leader.
Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.
Different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout started for me as a Girl Scout member: helping Brownie leaders that needed help, and at the local nature centers doing educational tours for scouts and the community. I wasn’t working on a Program Aide or any awards or badges, but for fun and the experience. Then, as a legal adult, I volunteered as a camp counselor a couple times, co-leader/leader from early 1990’s til now in a couple states, special events manager/coordinator a couple times, and in a couple states, service unit registrar, service unit and troop product program manager/coordinator a couple times (even back when we had calendars/candies and of course cookie season), service unit co-manager/ manger. I have been secretary on the service unit team, mentor for leaders and various other positions on the team, and helped in adult training. I think for about three months in the very beginning I was just a registered parent. LOL. They have all been an experience to remember and most I enjoyed for the terms they were assigned because of the fellow volunteers I had on the team with me.
What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?
Being a Girl Scout volunteer, I have learned I’m only human, I am flawed, and I make mistakes, but it’s how you handle them that makes you a better leader and person. I have learned that I have lots still to learn from a program aspect, from the parents and fellow volunteers, and most importantly ,to me is learning from the girls. Its great to let the girls explore and grow in their own time and in there own way. Not all girls are created equal and that is perfect! Be flexible, open minded, non-judgmental and easy going as much as possible. That not all Girl Scouts; girls and adults will like everyone else, look at their troop the same way, or with the same dedication level, which can be frustrating, but its always good to accept for the sake of being a mentor/ role model and living by the Promise and Law. I have learned basic things like how to live by the Promise and Law, not just say the words. I think a lot of volunteers miss that when they sign up for a volunteer role, and cookies is not a competition between girls/troops, it’s a learning tool. How to hike and camp correctly with a bunch of rambunctious and social young ladies. How to cook with a solar oven and better at dutch oven. How to make better knots and teach girls edible knots and campfires, so they get it at a young age. How to have a cleaner camping kitchen. How to canoe down a river and in the lake without swamping it, as well as archery and gun safety. How to use badge requirements to benefit the girls and how to use their everyday experiences to fulfill badge requirements without double dipping. How to track paperwork.
What do you hope girls have learned from you?
What I hope my girls have learned from me is emotional for me when I think about it. Being a Girl Scout, growing up when we had basically no guideline rules other than Susie Safety and having a lifetime of lasting memories and friends. I want that for all of my girls too, but it goes deeper. I want them to accept others for who they are, not what society expects them to be. To accept everyone with or without disabilities because it doesn’t define them as a person. To love themselves and know they have worth. That because I was open and honest with my girls that they will be as well. That they learned to give back to themselves, their families, their communities, and this country. To accept their accomplishments and defeats equally and with pride and humility. To be independent, responsible, take charge, role models. To be good mommies or not, spouses or not, businesswomen or house wives, and Girl Scout leaders if that is what they want in their journeys. That I will always support them, that I am here for them throughout Girl Scouts and beyond. That they touched my heart even if they were only mine for a short time and I am proud of them and the growth I see within them. That when I say at the beginning of the year that our troop is a family not just a bunch of people who get together once a week that I meant it and their sisters in scouts are their friends for life.
How has your experience as a volunteer helped you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
My experience as a volunteer helped me become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader) through my personal growth and experiences with the girls and the good friends I have made through the years. Its all been trial and error and preconceived notions of what is right or wrong and how to accomplish a task. How you deal with the unknown events and the gratitude you have from the mistakes as well as the accomplishments. To always be the girls safe heaven and their biggest cheerleader because sometimes that is all they need from you. To show them that you care and are dedicated to their success makes you a success. Be their friend even when they drive you crazy because it helps you grow. For me, it meant looking for a bigger picture and getting outside my comfort zone and moving my family across country for a chance at something different, and then again for a better long term future goal. To set goals and not give up until you have no other option and even then keep moving forward with your head high, to take the necessary risks in life to achieve your journeys goal. Over the years I am now blessed with being a Girl Scout grandma several times and It has given me a sense of pride I didn’t know I would get from being a leader. I step outside myself and what I think I know to help myself grow and move out of the way of my own ego. I always am willing to try something new and push boundaries and stereotypes. That is how I became a G.I.R.L.
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.