Lifelong friends, world experiences: Local Girl Scout leader looks back on 11 years
Posted September 3
When Michelle Le signed up her second grade daughter for Girl Scouts, she hoped the organization would help her young daughter find a group of lifelong friends.
Eleven years later, Le, who has been leader of her daughter's troop since the beginning, says she and her daughter have found close friends, but they've gotten so much more out of the experience.
As Le wraps up her final year as leader, she shares more about the experience that's taken her troop around the world. Le lives in Cary, has two children and also works as senior manager of business operations at Cisco Systems. See my Q&A with her below.
The North Carolina Coastal Pines Council of the Girl Scouts is hosting kick off and informational events in the next couple of weeks across the Triangle for families interested in joining Girl Scouts.
Here's where you'll find them. Follow the links to pre-register.
Sept. 23, Durham
Go Ask Mom: You were in Girl Scouts as a child. What are some of your favorite memories as a Girl Scout?
Michelle Le: My favorite memory as a child in Girl Scouts was attending camp. Camp was a great escape - a place for adventure and fun. It was a place I could try new things with confidence.
GAM: How old was your daughter when she first got involved? Why did you sign her up?
ML: My daughter was in second grade. I signed her up because I wanted to find a place where she could build life long friends. Our school system was experiencing multiple reassignments. Ever changing school friends was a very real challenge. Girl Scouts was a place where my daughter could find consistency.
GAM: You are entering your 11th year with your troop - all of the girls are high school seniors. What has it been like following these girls through their childhoods and watching them excel through Girl Scouts? You all must have some pretty close bonds!
ML: It has been amazing to watch these little girls grow into amazing young women. Some started as shy and unsure - their transformation has been unbelievable. They now each have their own confidence, a belief they can accomplish anything they set their minds to and an ability to connect with people of all walks.
All of my girls are very different. They have different interests, personalities, religious and ethnic backgrounds, yet they love each other unconditionally. That kind of bond comes from the shared experiences and lessons they have learned through the Girl Scout program and their leaders.
GAM: What have been some of your favorite memories from the past 11 years - and what does the troop have planned for this year?
ML: I have so many fond memories. If I had to pick just one it would be from our trip to New York City. When the girls were in third grade we began to dream big. I wanted them to understand that they could accomplish any goal. It was also important to me that they gained a world view and could empathize with people all around the world regardless of belief or background.
With that in mind, we sought out opportunities to do just that. The girls set goals focused on travel that included trips to Savannah, Earthshine Mountain Lodge, several other east coast U.S. destinations, New York City and Europe. Each trip offered a unique perspective that would expand their understanding of people and the challenges that we all face.
When we were in New York City, we saw amazing things from the Statue of Liberty to Cinderella on Broadway, but my favorite memory was the time that we spent in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. All of my girls were only one or two years old when 9/11 happened. They have learned about it in school and heard stories of the impact, but being immersed in the memories in the museum brought it to life in a new way for them.
There were many tears and a new appreciation for the amazing way that our country came together following 9/11. I will never forget that day and the new awareness and maturity I saw in their eyes as we left that scene. They were spurned into action and gained a passion for helping others effected by tragedy. Later that year. they were honored to perform the flag ceremony on 9/11 at our local Girl Scout Leader kick off meeting. They performed a moving ceremony and recited a poem in honor of those lost and those that remained to mourn.
Some of my other favorite memories are: our time around a campfire - they love to sing Bohemian Rhapsody while roasting marshmallows, and a roadtrip we took through Virginia. Determined to stop at every quirky place we could find, we toured the American Celebration on Parade in Virginia where I got to take pictures of them in front of Rose Bowl parade floats that I remember seeing on TV as a teen. There are our annual shopping trips for a Salvation Army Angel that we adopt, sorting potatoes at the Food Bank of NC, leading all the volunteers in silly camp songs, and watching my girls lead a group of 50 younger Girl Scouts in a weekend adventure to discover STEM through a camp they created and carried out with a Special Agent Spy theme.
GAM: What would you say to other parents, who are considering signing their daughter up for Girl Scouts?
ML: Girl Scouts has provided a way for my daughter to build confidence and create lifelong friendships. She has gained a world view and found a way to connect with all people regardless of religion, ethnic, or fiscal background.
For any parent considering signing up their daughter for Girl Scouts, I would also encourage them to explore becoming a leader. Being my daughter's leader allowed us to have a new and different kind of relationship - one where she was able to see me as a leader, an example of how to be a strong female leader. She saw me love other people unconditionally, saw my example of how to be intentional in relationships, saw how I valued other people who were different than me. It has been a wonderful way for me to connect with my daughter in a new and different way than I would have otherwise had available to me.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.