When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor? A veterinarian? Maybe a teacher? Today, children still dream of their futures in similar ways. But some Girl Scouts have the opportunity to take it a step further than just dreaming with the new “I Want to Be” troops.
In November of 2016, Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa had a vision to pair amazing women in the community with Girl Scout troops. These troops, called “I Want to Be” troops, are similar to traditional troops in the sense that they earn patches and badges and participate in the Cookie Program. But they differ in the way that they meet. Once a month, each troop meets with a different troop leader – an inspiring woman in the community. The meetings take place at the woman’s workplace as she helps girls explore her job: what she does, how she came to be in the profession, and why girls like the Girl Scouts in the troop could aspire to be in a similar role one day.
Last year - the inaugural year - the single “I Want to Be” troop visited many successful women in a wide variety of professions such as banking, medicine, and sports. The troop met with Coach Baranczyk and the Drake University Women’s Basketball Team and learned about much more than basketball - team work, dedication, and hard work were all wrapped in the message of the meeting.
Later in the year, the troop visited Dr. Kim Countryman at the Iowa Clinic in Waukee. Countryman stressed the importance of a good education, regardless of career interest, and she taught the girls first aid and hands-only CPR.
Kate Kimple, GSGI’s Development Coordinator and the director of these troops, says she loves hearing the girls talk excitedly to their parents after the meetings. “At least one girl leaves [each meting] exclaiming they want to be in that career when they grow up! It really demonstrates the impact that the leaders are having on the girls.”
This fall, thanks to generous grants and support from our donors, we now have two “I Want to Be” troops filled with 15 Girl Scouts each in the Des Moines area. These girls get to experience and learn from a variety of women in different fields, which only increases their odds of becoming successful women themselves. Research shows that girls who are consistently exposed to women in leadership are more likely to set high goals for themselves.
The “I Want to Be” troops are an exciting program that we at GSGI are proud to offer Girl Scouts with the hopes of expanding to other areas across Iowa in the future, to build girls of courage, confidence and character.