Teen Scene Emily Changs Girl Scouts
Dec 18, 2018

Girl Scouts – It’s a Whole Lot More Than Cookies

By Lori Draz and Emily Chang

Teen Scene Emily Changs Girl Scouts

Welcome to Teen Scene. Each month our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact the Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry, let’s just get to sharing.

Intro for Emily

This month’s author is Holmdel’s Emily Chang, a 16-year-old junior at Ranney School. Emily is a nationally ranked figure skater and a lifelong Girl Scout. The country is living through turbulent times, and we hope the spirit of the holiday season starts a healing. Perhaps the lessons learned and lived by scouting can provide some inspiration to lead a peaceful, supportive and productive life. Happy Holidays to all. Here is Emily’s story.

People seem surprised when they learn I am a Girl Scout. They immediately picture a group of little girls adorned in distinctive uniforms, making crafts, singing campfire songs, and of course, selling those iconic cookies.

But Girl Scouts is so much more – it is a powerful worldwide sisterhood of girls from kindergarten all the way through high school. Girl Scouts empowers young girls and women to become dynamic leaders, influential decision makers, courageous groundbreakers, and positive role models in their communities and the world.

Did you know that a majority of today’s famous and powerful women are former Girl Scouts? An incredible 64 percent of this country’s female leaders from all different fields were once Girl Scouts. Hillary Clinton, Taylor Swift, Ellen DeGeneres, and Melinda Gates are among the many.

Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex, also began advocating for female equality as a young Girl Scout and made history as the first biracial princess. As each of these women have participated in Girl Scouts, there is no doubt about a direct correlation between Girl Scouts and success.

Girl Scouts unleashes the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) in each member to achieve its mission of building “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” Given the polarized society we currently live in, Girl Scouting is more relevant than ever.

The program strives to boost girls’ awareness and understanding of important global issues. It instills positive values of acting ethically, honestly, and showing respect and concern for others.

I joined Brownie Girl Scouts in third grade as a sensitive, shy, and sheltered 8-year-old.  Surrounded by other girls my age, I found a safe and inclusive environment to freely express my feelings and opinions. I was exposed to endless new experiences, embraced challenges and formed lasting relationships with members of my community.

As I progressed from Brownie to Junior, transitioned to Cadette, bridged to Senior, and advanced to Ambassador, I have transformed into the independent, self-determined, and ambitious individual I am today. In addition to boosting my self-esteem, Girl Scouts’ engaging skill-building activities have taught me a wide range of valuable life lessons.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is by far the most beneficial learning experience. I ran my own cookie business and developed networking, decision-making and money management skills.

The Badge and Patch programs allowed me to explore a diverse array of interests and further expand and develop new knowledge and skills. I trained in first-aid and CPR, cooked meals at the Ronald McDonald House, learned bow shooting at an archery clinic, and participated in various arts and crafts events.

At 11 years old, I earned the Bronze Award, working alongside my Junior troop members as an after-school elementary school mentor to Daisies and Brownies. I achieved my Silver Award three years later, addressing animal welfare to raise awareness about homeless pets and increase support for local shelters.

This past year, I earned the prestigious Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve and awarded to fewer than six percent of Girl Scouts annually. I wanted to use my passion as a competitive figure skater to address child obesity. My goal was to attract and inspire new generations of skaters by educating my community of the myriad physical and mental health benefits that skating provides.

During National Skating Month, I hosted a “Skating Promotes Fitness and Good Health” event. I recruited coaches to teach free half-hour group lessons and had several teammates perform their competition programs. Over 55 participants enjoyed a fun-filled day at the rink, learning about the sport and kicking off the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

I am now a Girl Scout Ambassador and serve on the Girl Scouts CEO Advisory Board. I work with the program specialist, the CEO, and a small group of other devoted Girl Scouts. We meet monthly and share, develop, and implement ideas on how to improve the overall program to better meet girls’ interests and needs in our local area. I am honored to be one of its leaders, influencing future generations and helping to shape the direction of the program.

Girl Scouts has left an indelible positive imprint on my life. I have developed strong connections with my family and friends, and have become an active and informed member of my community.

I encourage young girls to take part in such a life-changing program. It will truly shape a girl’s perception of the world and herself, while opening up a world of possibilities and unique opportunities. Creating innovative girls of confidence and leadership will help make the world a better place.