Written by Keith Pretzer –
I am proud to tell people that I am a Girl Scout. That usually gets second looks. I am, after all, a man and a father. I have been a Girl Scout for seven years, and for the past seven years. I have done my best to be “man enough to be a Girl Scout.”
People might think this is an interesting phrase as the term “man” and “girl” tends to create two very different images and expectations; but Girl Scouts are strong, brave, confident, and fearless. They’ll tell you themselves that they’re G.I.R.L.S – Go-getters, Innovators, Risk Takers, and Leaders.
Over the past seven years, I have attended Girl Scout programs including hikes and camps, computer competitions, fencing classes, agricultural fairs, and even attended the 2017 National Convention where I saw our girls conduct our national business, fearlessly making motions, seconding motions, or calling for the question.
In all these events I got to see these wonderful girls in action. Yes, these girls are strong, courageous and confident. But every day I also see the side of them that is kind, caring, and compassionate while growing up with humor and grace.
On a hike near Shaver Lake I sat on a granite boulder with a five-year-old Daisy. She started asking about the rock we sat on, and we ended up discussing how rocks were formed and everything from the solar system to glaciers.
At a Gold Award ceremony (an evening honoring the highest honors in Girl Scouting), a Girl Scout told me about her project to supply digital music players with customized tracks for seniors with Alzheimer’s, and brought me to tears because I was then struggling to help my mother deal with her dementia.
At a robotics competition I saw our “RoboGirl” team of five young Girl Scouts who had never met one another come together to win an inspirational award. I was in awe of the fierce determination and focus in their faces as they dealt with programming and mechanical issues under the intense pressure of competition.
I have strolled and discussed world issues with a 15-year-old girl who placed 200 toilets in homes in a poor rural village in India, all to prevent the abuse of women who often had to walk great distances at night to use a toilet.
I saw Girl Scouts include and embrace girls with disabilities into their troops and their hearts, including them fully in all their activities and projects.
These girls will be so much more than me. They inspire me, motivate me, and give me much needed hope for the future. And while I may not be able to accomplish all that these brave Girl Scouts will be achieving as they grow up and begin to change the world. What I can do is help provide opportunities as they traverse their life’s journey.
There are so many passions fathers or male role models can share with their daughters in a Girl Scout setting. As Father’s Day approaches, I want to ask all fathers, “Are you man enough to be a Girl Scout?”
How do you “man up” to be a Girl Scout? Get you and your daughter involved with the local Girl Scout Council and encourage your Girl Scout through your own involvement. Many people are surprised to hear that our local Girl Scout Council has male volunteers and male Girl Scout troop leaders. Yet here we are proudly standing beside our girls and watching them become the “go-getters” of the future.
As our daughters learn to become an independent, do-it-herself, types of young women, we “Cookie Dads” are given a chance to be a part of her new found world. From helping her set goals to watching her change the world, it’s our duty and our honor to be present every step of the way.
Fathers, male troop leaders and volunteers, can also learn a thing or two from our Girl Scouts. The values of the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law are good values to govern our actions in life, in business, and in our communities.
The girls have taught me to be fair and honest, to be responsible for what I say and do, considerate and caring, and they have taught me to be courageous.
I try to live up to the example they set. I’m proud to be a Girl Scout.
Keith Pretzer is the Board Chair for Girl Scouts of Central California South