Be Prepared: How Girl Scouts helped me get organized for life

Girl Scouts then.

It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that I was a Girl Scout. I started out as a Brownie and ended up working as a counselor at Girl Scout camps in the mountains of Idaho and Colorado as a young adult. I recently reconnected with some camp friends who reminded me how valuable the skills were that we learned through scouting. Yes, we learned how to make one-match campfires, and how to pack a backpack without forgetting anything essential (or ending up with too much to carry). But we also learned to teach these skills to others.

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Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts!

It’s no wonder the Girl Scouts are celebrating their 100th birthday this year (2012)!  I’ve taken scouting so much for granted that I’ve never thought to give it credit for many of my organizing and project management skills. The closest I’ve come is that whenever someone is surprised or impressed that I am prepared — with sunscreen, an extra pen, or a back-up plan — I say, ”Well, I was a Girl Scout!”

Girl Scouts now.

From an article by Angela Woods, 100 Years Later, Girl Scouts Still Relevant:

Girl Scouts serve their communities. The willingness to help others is an attribute our individualistic society can sometimes overlook….

Girl Scouts learn valuable skills. Our Girl Scout Cookie Program is at its heart a business program in which girls have the chance to learn and put into play skills like goal-setting, decision-making, budgeting, people skills and business ethics.

Girl Scouts gain independence and self-esteem. Programs such as our Summer Resident Camps offer girls practical skills like canoeing, fire-building and archery; but they also offer life skills like being self-sufficient and responsible, building relationships, having respect for the camp and everyone involved, and most of all, having fun.

Indeed, we even learned to enjoy performing mundane chores by taking turns and singing together as we worked. We called them “kapers”, which sounds so much more fun than “chores”, doesn’t it? And we made “kaper charts” to keep us organized!

Be Prepared

The very scouting motto, “Be Prepared”, is an integral part of being Organized for Life. At camp we were prepared with first aid kits and a change of clothing. And we planned for successful outings, crafts, and other projects. As one of my scouting pals observed, “Planning out family meals, quantities, and shopping lists is just like those overnight/cookout meal requisitions.” Yep, I guess I’m just a grown up Girl Scout after all!

Here are some examples of being prepared for everyday life:

  • Be prepared for using something frequently by storing it close at hand.
  • Be prepared for the flow of paper and flow of things into and out of your home, so they don’t pile up and become clutter.
  • Be prepared for unexpected opportunities by not cramming your schedule too full.
  • Be prepared for traffic delays by leaving the house early.
  • Be prepared for tasks you do infrequently by creating a checklist to make them easier.
  • Be prepared for tomorrow by making a plan today.
  • Be prepared for emergencies and natural disasters by stocking extra food, water, and supplies.
  • Be prepared for the inevitable by making a will and organizing your important papers.
  • Be prepared for unexpected visitors by tidying up just a few minutes every day.
  • Be prepared for a happier, less stressful life by getting Organized for Life!

Were you a Scout (Boy or Girl)? What lessons did you learn?

What are you prepared for now? What else do you need to be prepared for?

Copyright 2012-2018 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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  1. Dorothy L Clear on May 11, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Hazel, thank you for this new insight. I have always given credit to the Girl Scouts for my preparedness. However, I forgot my entrepreneural spirit started with selling GS cookies. And, project management skills were learned with achieving merit badges.

    • Hazel Thornton on May 12, 2013 at 8:27 am

      Badges. How could I have forgotten to mention badges?!?! Thanks, Dorothy!

  2. Diane Camillo on April 1, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Hazel, I so agree, so many valuable skills are learned through the Girl Scout program, I myself was a scout and grew up to become a troop leader for my daughter. Being organized and having our checks marked off on the “to do” lists whether they are paper lists or mental, certainly keep life more manageable. I loved this blog post, thank you for sharing!

  3. Diane Camillo on April 1, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Being prepared is all about confidence. When you are prepared for ‘come what may’ you have a real sense of confidence in your self and your environment. Your preparedness list could actually become a LIFE’S GOLDEN RULE list!

    • Hazel Thornton on April 1, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks for your comments, Diane! You would like a quote I recently heard: “Confidence is remembered successes.” I think the more experiences we have (including Girl Scouting), the more successes we can have and remember. Don’t you?

  4. Jane Severance on September 6, 2015 at 10:46 am

    This post reminds me sweetly of Robert Fulghum’s famous essay about kindergarten. Because, really, everything I needed to know I learned in Girl Scouts. Try new things. Try new things that are fun, try new things that are exciting, but try new things that are scary, too. Remember that failure is just a another step of learning. Never let anyone tell you you can’t do it because you are a girl. If we don’t have it we can probably make it. Singing rounds will make you feel better. It just will. Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver but the other is Hazel.

    • Hazel Thornton on September 6, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Awww! Nice to hear from my oldest and dearest friend. Thanks for commenting and adding more lessons we learned in Girl Scouts!

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