Western North Carolina Woman

Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer do! I’m half crazy, All for the love of you!
by lisa horak

I am not a born leader. I’d even go so far as to say I’m a card-carrying, dyed-in-the-wool follower.

Give me a task and I’ll do it. But ask me to speak in front of a group or teach a class and I go into a panic…on the inside, anyhow. It’s not that I can’t be authoritative; it’s more that I’m not a natural organizer. It just makes me feel queasy. Gives me butterflies in my stomach. Keeps me up at night. All of the above.

But as we all know, love makes you do some pretty unexpected things. My six-year-old daughter Molly wanted to join Daisy Scouts. (Daisy Scouts, if you are not familiar, is the first level of Girl Scouts, even before Brownies.) So last summer we filled out forms, gave them to the powers that be, and waited to hear about our troop. No calls came. School started. We waited some more and made some calls. Apparently there was no troop to join just then, but they’d call us when one formed. Weeks went by. And then finally, we heard. A troop would form to include the “lost girls” like Molly—those in need of a group to join.

Apparently this lack of a troop wasn’t due to lack of interest, only to a lack of willing leadership. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “you mean there aren’t tons of caring, kind adults chomping at the bit to spend their precious free time with a gaggle of kindergartners?”

Now let me remind you, I am not a leader type. I’m really not. But this was my daughter, and what is one to do? I mean the uniforms are just so darned cute—little blue aprons and the Daisies earn different colored petals for doing educational, civic-minded activities? And scouting is touted as a wonderful way to encourage girls to be all those things we want them to be, like honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, responsible for what they say and do, respectful of themselves and others, respectful of authority. We want them to use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout. (These are the ten components of the Girl Scout Law.) We all want the next generation to be at least as competent as ourselves, and hopefully more so. I want Molly to be the leader type.

Unlike me. Because when we go camping I am not the Fire Starter. I grew up in a non-camping family and never really learned how to make a fire. I mean, I know in theory what to do, but frankly, when we get to the woods my husband’s hunter/gatherer instincts come out and well, he starts the fire. I put the marshmallows on the sticks (yes, I know, green sticks, so they don’t burn!)

So with the fate of the troop in jeopardy, I agreed to be a leader with one caveat: someone else had to do it too, for I am a firm believer that there is safety in numbers. I scanned the room for an interested face. All eyes were averted, because like me, none of the parents wanted to be the leader! We all just wanted to spend some quality time with our girls. We wanted the fun of badges and songs and crafts but none of the responsibility of leadership.

Finally, the woman sitting next to me gave in…sort of…and agreed to be a co-leader if and only if absolutely no one else would step up to the plate and it was the only way our girls could be Daisies. I, of course, was overjoyed, for surely this woman was a kindred spirit. After all, we had both made cynical comments during the information meeting.

We decided that we would make this fun. We quickly divided up the required training sessions, for the Girl Scouts are nothing if not safe, thorough, and by the books. Then we set up ground rules. Number one: we would plan our meetings only where we could drink good coffee. Number two: we would avoid any non-essential meetings. Number three: We would eliminate dues so to avoid complicated stuff like opening a troop bank account. Number four: our troop would meet once a month. More often would be too much work. And number five, my personal favorite: we would meet in the Fire Department’s conference room, so that real professionals would be on hand should someone urgently need medical care.

If my co-leader and I were worried that we weren’t up for this task, our fears were quickly put to rest. At the last meeting before we were to take over as leaders, the woman temporarily in charge had our eager little angels earn a petal about being helpful by cleaning the building’s baseboards. I kid you not. With paper towels and a jug of Fantastik, our little scouts got busy and scrubbed. Never mind dust allergies and asthma—we don’t even clean our own baseboards at home! The girls didn’t even complain, bless their hearts, but my co-leader and I looked at each other with incredulity and dismay. Surely we could do better than that.

And so we are. We talk about the core values and beliefs that the Girl Scouts wisely made into their law. Our Daisies are making new friends. They know who founded the Girl Scouts and they know the Girl Scout Promise. Their aprons get more colorful each time we meet, as more and more petals are added. We make bird feeders out of pine cones and decorations for nursing homes. We even sing Taps as we conclude our meetings with a Friendship Circle.

Perhaps most important, my co-leader and I pat each other on the back after each meeting and remind ourselves that we have done well. Maybe it’s never to late to teach this old scout new tricks.

The Girl Scouts are always looking for volunteers. If you are interested please call the Girl Scouts of Western North Carolina Pisgah Council Service Center at (828) 252-4442.

Lisa Horak lives in Asheville with her husband and two daughters.

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