Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state in honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month. Catherine Rice of Colorado Springs in the Pikes Peak region is a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.
GSCO asked Catherine 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 have fond memories of my short five years as a Brownie and Girl Scout and had wanted my daughter to have the same fun. I was the classic story of a busy, working mother who attended an organizational meeting and said, “I cannot be the leader, but I will help.” Of course, I was the only one who even said that much! Thus I became a leader, so that we could get a Brownie troop started (Daisies had not yet begun). It was one of my wisest decisions. I happily remained the leader of Hawaii Troop 614 for 15 years, seeing nine girls earn their Gold Awards. When my daughter gave birth to a girl, we saw more green blood! We could not wait for her to become a Daisy, and I am now in year seven as one of the co-leaders with her mother of Colorado Troop 41002 and having fun all over again. Why? Because I believe completely in the Girl Scout Program which encourages girls to be their best and become leaders all while having so much fun and making lifelong friendships. I have seen my girls become international travelers, a media success, business owners, doctors, an active community volunteer, a national forest executive, and three of them are Girl Scout leaders, so I know it works! Watching our younger girls grow so quickly and become G.I.R.L.s is such a thrill because I see the program still working.
Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.
During my first 15 years as a Leader, our school had a troop in nearly every grade. For several years, I was the liaison between the school and the Girl Scout Board and I was a member of the Girl Scout Board. Our service unit was very large and very active, so I was involved with the annual parades, calendar production and sales, and several large statewide camps celebrating Girl Scout milestones. I was very honored to receipt the Volunteer Appreciation Pin. One of my more exciting adventures was as an adult chaperone for Melinda Caroll’s Girl Scout Choir. We traveled around the state and attended the National Convention in 1993. And I accompanied one of my Gold Girl Scouts, who had created an educational traveling recycling project, to an environmental camp at the Edith Macy Center in New York attended by one girl and adult from each State. It was fun and interesting to see the many different sides of Girl Scouting. My role now is mostly as a leader, who tries to help wherever I can and being a retired grandmother allows me the freedom to attended most activities and trainings. I was able to help with recruitment events during the summer and fall and on the service unit level, I have helped to plan camps and World Thinking Day events. I am also part of the Girl Scout Travel Group. Being a Girl Scout Volunteer has blessed me with many lifelong adult friendships as well.
What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?
The girls are my inspiration!!! Throughout my Girl Scout volunteer days, the girls have always been the more creative and motivational ones. The leaders may give them ideas, but watching them run with those ideas is phenomenal. Doing as much as I can to keep girls in the program through high school is my current goal because I have seen the doors that the Girl Scouting experience has opened for my first troop. There are so many opportunities for older girls. I have also learned that camping and selling cookies in warm Hawaii is so much easier than in freezing Colorado!
What do you hope girls have learned from you?
Hopefully, I have been a good role model for the girls, showing them that anything is possible and that doing crazy things is fun at any age. Living the Girl Scout Way is very important to me and I hope that they feel and act the same. Mostly, I want them to always remember their Girl Scout years with fondness, laughing at funny memories, proud of their hard work, remembering that Girl Scouts leave a place better than they found it, and that we always strive to make the world a better place.
How has your experience as a volunteer helped you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
Being a Girl Scout volunteer has kept me going in so many ways. Throughout a very stressful career in the financial world, it reminded me that “I got this” no matter the challenge. I’m not so sure I have been a great innovator, but I have learned from the girls! Girl Scouting has made me courageous and strong and always willing to try new things – that is the fun of it all. I was always a follower in school, but after being a Girl Scout leader I found that I could be the head of a group. I remember being so nervous in front of parent meetings that my voice would shake, but after many years of doing it over and over I am much more comfortable.
Thinking back through the years while writing this, I realize how much more I have gained from Girl Scouts than I have given. There were many late nights of planning and writing newsletters (typed in the beginning!), keeping the records organized, buying supplies, days of lugging everything to and from meetings, making sure everyone was safe, but I don’t remember those details. I remember my two sets of Brownies (30 years apart!) looking in the “pond” and seeing themselves, our brown and white situpons, my wonderful assistant leaders and helpful parents (still good friends), our hikes, going to camps, taking 26 Juniors to another island and Easter sunrise on the beach, sitting around our silly inflatable pool at a big statewide camp, 12 costumed Girl Scout parades through Waikiki, and being so proud listening to all of those Gold Award speeches. And my first girls will never let me forget the time I left the meat in my freezer before Easter Brunch at a large family camp! With my current troop, I will remember those darling little Daisies, our first Brownie sleepover, Wild Nights at the Zoo, crawling and sliding through the mud in Cave of the Winds, delivering our HTH cookies to Hope and Home, earning our MEdia Journey at a Hamp Hup overnight, teas, service unit amps, and many badge workshops.
I am so thankful that those many years ago I said, “I will help”, and will always encourage others to do the same!
Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org.