Building and Embracing Our Smart Cookies
Reflections on the New and Highly Successful Girl Scout Program at the JCC in Skokie
My first experience with Girl Scouts was when I volunteered to be a leader for my now 16-year-old daughter’s troop when she and her classmates were in Kindergarten. That simple act of volunteerism launched a meaningful and impactful five-year relationship with Girl Scouts for me, my daughter and our new community of girls. I learned so much from my role as a troop leader – most importantly that every girl will benefit from the opportunity to experience the organization’s commitment to building courage, confidence and character in our girls and young women.
When JCC Chicago had the opportunity to create a Girl Scout troop within our Jewish community, we knew we would be embarking on an important journey. To successfully introduce this historic program to an observant community, we would need to discover the connection between the Girl Scout experience and our Jewish values. With the support of a grant from the Jewish Women’s Foundation, we launched our first Girl Scout troop at the Mayer Kaplan JCC in Skokie. In its inaugural year, the troop has 18 enthusiastic and passionate Jewish girls – Kindergarten through 5th grade – who come to us from modern orthodox, conservative, reform and deconstructionist backgrounds. And a waitlist for a second group is filling fast.
The troop meetings resemble those of others nationwide. There’s a job chart, creative games that teach life values (such as making and breaking promises), songs, art projects and ending each meeting with the recognizable “Girl Scout Promise.” At the same time, interwoven into every meeting is a deep connection to Jewish values. The job chart is referred to as “Avodah.” When the girls learned about promises, they created six to keep – one for each point on the Star of David.
The pillars of our Jewish faith resonate naturally with Girl Scout values, and it has been remarkable to celebrate these connections with our troop members and growing Girl Scout community. With the support of the Jewish Women’s Foundation, these girls have come together to create a community of new friendships and shared experiences, and one that celebrates all of the values that they treasure.
For more information about the Girl Scout program at Mayer Kaplan JCC please visit here.