Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Three weeks ago, my mother brought me two small jewelry boxes from home filled with “treasures” from my childhood.  The necklaces, bracelets and pins brought back memories.  There were two ballerinas, one cross, and one butterfly necklace.  Included in the treasures were my Brownie and my Girl Scout pins, still in one piece and working, if a little dull and tarnished. 

That same week, my eight year old daughter told me, “Mommy, I want to be a Brownie.”  It seemed like such a simple request.  After all, there are a few Brownie troops in the school, certainly I could just call around and find a troop for her to join.  After a few calls and conversations, I found out that all the troops were full, except for one that was disbanding. Before I knew it, I had agreed to be a co-leader, the troop was reforming and adding a few girls.

My initial reason for agreeing to co-lead was to make my daughter happy: she wants to be in Brownies; this is what it takes.  Soon, I discovered that this would be a learning journey for me as well.  After registration forms were filled out, the next step was purchasing a uniform for her and books for both of us.  Once everything was home, I began to go through the material, refreshing my knowledge of Brownies and Girl Scouts (it has been quite a while since I was one).  The more I read, the more excited I became about the adventure that we were about to begin. 

The mission of Girl Scouts is to build girls of courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place.  Attending the service unit meeting with dozens of other troop leaders, I realized how many women in our local community were involved in the same mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character.  

Our troop began the year with an induction ceremony for the new Brownies during which they held lit candles while reciting the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law.

The Girl Scout Promise

On my honor, I will try:
     To serve God and my country,
     To help people at all times,
     And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

The Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be
     honest and fair,
     friendly and helpful,
     considerate and caring,
     courageous and strong, and
     responsible for what I say and do,
and to
     respect myself and others,
     respect authority,
     use resources wisely,
     make the world a better place, and
     be a sister to every Girl Scout.

The Promise and Law create a high expectation of behavior, but, knowing that perfection is an unattainable goal, start with words that underscore the fact that we will fail on occasion. The promise states, “On my honor, I will try,” and the law begins, “I will do my best to be...”

It is important to remember that we all fail on occasion and make mistakes.  Trying and doing our best does not equate to being perfect, but rather with picking ourselves up after a mistake, learning and moving forward. 

How did Girls Scouts begin?  Through the efforts of one woman.  Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low began the Girl Scouts on March 12, 1912 with a local Girl Scout meeting in Savannah, Georgia. Today, there are almost a million Girls Scout volunteers, and 2.7 million girl members. Since its inception, more than 50 million American women have participated in Girl Scouts.

It going to be a fun year, learning and growing with the girls, and I know that my time invested in this will more than pay off in the long run.  While I am sure that I will forget things, become overwhelmed and possibly even lose my temper, I know that today, more than ever, we need girls of courage, confidence and character. 

All over our community, city and nation, adults are involved in the time-consuming, but important work of building boys and girls of courage, confidence and character through in-school and after-school activities.  I am glad to be able to do my small part.  Knowing that along the way, while I am helping others, that I will be learning and growing, and will be reminded of the important promises and values in life.

I look forward to the day I visit my daughter, and carry a box of childhood treasures to her, including her Brownie pin.

On my honor, I will try, to do my best.  A motto we should all say every day.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.