In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month, Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state. Anita Lucero in the Pikes Peak region was nominated as a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community!
Anita has been a troop leader for the last six years, but her commitment to our girls doesn’t stop there! She is also a Service Unit Manager, Service Unit Product Sales Manager, Cookie Cupboard Manager, Site Delivery Manager for a Colorado Springs delivery site, active member of the region’s Cookie Committee, and GPS Leader (putting on Product Sales rallies and the local mall lock-in). Under her leadership as Service Unit Manager, she has grown the service unit and for the past two years, the service unit has met its goals.
We asked Anita to answer a few questions about her experiences as a Girl Scout volunteer. We hope you find her story as inspiring as we did!
How long have you been a Girl Scout?
This is my 16th year in Girl Scouting, 10 years as a girl with this year being my sixth as an adult.
Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?
Seven years ago, my daughter joined Girl Scouts with my niece and I was just the drop and go parent for the first part of the year. As I continued to see coloring sheets coming home after every meeting, I decided to check it out some more. She was bored with the activities that they were doing and so the two of us decided that if we were going to stay in Girl Scouts, we were going to start our own troop. I knew that as time would go on my Girl Scout past would catch up with me and help me along the way. However, I figured out many things had changed over the years, but the core values were the same and you learn as you go.
Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.
Well, my first and most important role is being a parent. I have to remember that the reason I became a volunteer was because of my daughters. It is very important to give them as much time and support as I do to every other girl. I have to remember to treat them like girls and not as assistants. Although they will be amazing, but it’s not their time yet. Secondly, I am a troop leader of six amazing girls: two Brownies, one Junior, one Cadette, and two Seniors. They are all very motivating in their own way and we have a ton of fun. Next, I am Service Unit Manager and Service Unit Cookie Manager of 414 in the southeast area of Colorado Springs. I support about 25 troops all year long and mentor them in the beginning of their troop set-up until they feel comfortable to support their girls on their own. I always remember my first year and how nervous I was, so if I can take a little stress off their shoulders and teach each them a few tips and tricks to help along the way I do. The past two years I have also been on the Cookie Committee in Colorado Springs supporting troops, parents, girls, and staff in anything cookies. My husband and I have also been a cookie cupboard during the selling season, supporting troops in keeping inventory available for girls to sell. Four years ago, I helped start a group in Colorado Springs called GPS (Girl Planning System). They were all 6th to 12th graders already PA’s or wanted to be Program Aide trained. Our first year we planned and carried out the annual Mall Lock-In. This group has evolved over the years and we currently have 12 girls that have planned many programs to include Fall Rallies, Cookie Rallies, Badge Workshops, Mall Lock-In, and some of the girls are currently planning a day camp for this summer. Lastly, I just help were needed, I do a ton of recruiting events, I teach at training’s, and support the staff in Pikes Peak Region with anything else they need.
What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer? What do you hope girls have learned from you?
I have learned that without these girls in Girl Scouting I would have a lot more free time. Just kidding! I love to stay busy. I have learned that all of these girls are like good smelling onions. Every girl is different and sometimes we have to peel off more or less layers to find out who they really are and how to guide them through Girl Scouts. Some come because they are told to and others can’t get enough of it. Each girl has their own talents and their own weaknesses and we have to love them for the whole package. We have to be patient and caring. I have learned that as girls grow older their outlook on Girl Scouts changes and we have to respect their emotional feelings. I have also learned that some girls come to Girl Scouts because they obtain opportunities that they can’t get anywhere else. For example, it maybe something simple like how to build a bird house, or how sew a sit upon, or to camp, or travel out of state, or travel to Europe. Whatever it might be for some it could be building memories that last a life time, and I am privileged to be apart of that.
I hope that girls have learned how cool it can be to be a Girl Scout and how you don’t have to be ashamed to tell people at school that you are. I hope that girls learned that they are worth it in this world. They can be who they want to be and no one can stop them. I hope they have learned that you can be super-women without having all the super powers. You don’t have to be perfect you just have to be you, there are always people around you that have the strengths of your own weaknesses, and that what makes teams so great.
What is your favorite Girl Scout memory?
Man this question is so hard!!! I have so many amazing memories from when I was a girl. But, the one that means the most to me is “Senior Trip 2000” my best friend Sara and I were the only ones left in my troop. The year prior we completed our Silver Award and went to Disney World. But, the summer of 2000 we went on a trip of our lifetime. We went to Europe with a group of selected Girl Scouts from what was the Wagon Wheel Council in Colorado Springs. We traveled through 7+ countries in just over 20 days. It was absolutely amazing. I saw so many beautiful things and made many new friends. I got to visit Pax Lodge and Our Chalet, two very beautiful Girl Scout World Centers. We went to Buckingham Palace, The Eiffel Tower, a salt mine, The Louvre, and ate chicken everyday, but one amazingly enough cooked a different way every time. I learned how to pack and unpack and how to call home with a calling card. This trip gave me so many learning lessons that I would have never got sitting in a classroom. I learned on this trip and many years since that even though I may not see those same girls today I still know in my heart that they are sister Girl Scouts and we will forever have a connection.
What words of advice do you have for other volunteers?
The best advice I can give to every volunteer (and staff) is without the girls we won’t have an organization. Each and every thing that we do daily, weekly, or monthly is for the girls. To my fellow volunteers, we are here to support and guide. Girl Scouting is supposed to be girl-led so let it happen. No matter how bad our OCD is for control or for their success that we want them to have we have to remember it is okay to fail let them learn from their mistakes. Working with girls and teaching them something new will help them on their path. Listening and understanding of what they want to accomplish and volunteers supporting them will better them for their future roles of Girl Scouting. I encourage everyone to take updated training’s, ask questions, and be more involved. The more networking that you do with others the more educated you become. Attend your Service Unit meetings and check/reply to your email. Shadow other troops and invite older girls to come with your Daisies and Brownies. Put those crayons down and take your girls (EVEN DAISIES) on a hike, go to camp (Sky High is AMAZING!!!!!), and tackle a fear or two. Girl Scouting can be anything you want it to be sometimes you just have to try-it.
Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at email@example.com.