It was that moment when the spark ignites, the moment I look for all year long as a Girl Scout Leader. “Miss Chris”, said one of my Scouts, “I think that people who are bullies really feel bad about themselves. And maybe if we try to help people have more self-confidence, then there would be fewer bullies.” Then another one added, “If people had more self-confidence, bullies and cliques wouldn’t bother them so much.” These kids were on to something, and I knew we had the ingredients for a great Take Action Project.
In case you are unfamiliar, a Take Action Project culminates a Girl Scout Journey. Journeys are an integral part of the Girl Scout Leadership experience. It’s the heart of the National Program, and Journey curriculum is available for every age level in Girl Scouting. It focuses on three core themes — It’s Your World, Change It; It’s Your Planet, Love It; and It’s Your Story, Tell It. Journeys teach girls the three keys to leadership — Discover, Connect, and Take Action. Discover something about yourself or an issue that is important to you. Connect with others in your community who hold those same beliefs. And Take Action to create a sustainable solution to that problem. The ultimate mission in all this is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character that make the world a better place!
The Journey our Cadette troop (6-8 grade) did this year is called aMAZE, and it focuses on how teenagers can improve their relationships with their peers. I knew how much my girls needed to have the chance to talk about what they are going through in school. I knew that several of them had already suffered bullying. And I knew some of them struggled with self-esteem. They needed tools to navigate “the twists and turns of getting along,” as the Journey book calls it.
As adults, we sometimes forget. But being a teenager is not easy! I wanted to encourage some heart to heart discussions about peer pressure, gossiping, cliques, stereotypes, first impressions, bullying, and more. But in the end, my girls pinpointed one root cause of many of these issues — a lack of confidence and self-esteem. And they decided to throw a “Confidence Rocks Party” to help solve it.
The girls created a playlist of confidence boosting songs that they felt would uplift and inspire others. We decided that a good place for a party is our local roller-skating rink, and the Skateaway was more than happy to partner with us on this project. We designed a flyer to promote the event and emailed it to all the Girl Scouts troops in our community. We pulled inspirational quotes from the songs on the playlist and made party favors with Pop Rocks candy, attaching the quotes. We created some awesome decorations by “tie dying” coffee filters! And we set up a photo booth with a backdrop, costumes, and props to encourage Party-goers to let their Confidence shine.
When I plan Journey sessions, I go on a Journey myself. I learn just as much, probably more, than my girls do! I find amazing resources on the Internet that I use in my lesson plans. This year, I found so much good stuff that I decided to put it all in a blog post so I could share it with parents and other Girl Scout leaders. Here’s how my journey began.
One day last summer, I received an email from my niece. She sent me information about a group called Lehigh Valley Girls Rock. She thought my daughter would be interested in their program. What this group does is pretty amazing. They teach girls how to play instruments, help them write music, form bands, and perform — all in a week long camp setting. But if that wasn’t cool enough, it was through their website that I discovered some other very inspiring women who have a thing or two to say about self-confidence and self-love. A whole bunch of inspiration just fell into my lap!
First there is Gala Darling and her Radical Self Love Manifesto. Gala started out as a fashion blogger, but soon discovered her true calling and devoted herself to helping other women fall in love with themselves. Admitting that her teenage years were full of turmoil, she found a way to overcome her struggles and turn her life around. She is now a very successful entrepreneur. Her website is just chock full of inspiring essays and activities such as her “Radical Self Love Bible School” which is an art journaling self-discovery program. I recommend watching her TedEX talk on You Tube.
Then there is Jaime Karpovich. Jaime is a Vegan, produces a cable TV Show called Save The Kales that airs in several markets, and keeps a blog of the same name. She’s a freelance writer and public speaker and loves to talk about vegan cooking and lifestyle, body positivity and self-esteem, and personal empowerment to name a few. I tried to arrange for her to speak to my Girl Scouts, but it didn’t work out this year. I still have my fingers crossed that we can work together soon! I think she would really impress upon them how important it is to be true to yourself and follow your dreams.
Somewhere along the line I stumbled upon a gem of an article by Anna Lind Thomas called, “Life is too short for crappy friends,” Thomas is a writer and comedian who really nails it when it comes to explaining to girls why being “popular” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She also has some hilarious things to say for us grown-up women. Here’s a link to her blog.
Oh, and I cannot leave out Brene’ Brown. I am absolutely obsessed with her book The Gifts of Imperfection. I carried it around for months on end. I read and re-read it, marking it up with pencil and highlighter. I preached it to anyone who would listen. Her guideposts for wholehearted living resonated with me like nothing else ever has. It just makes so much sense. It was inspiration from her research that led me to create this blog and name it Vulnerable Path. If you follow my blog, you know I have talked about her A LOT in previous posts.
The one thing that Brown has to say that I felt was very important to convey to my Girl Scouts was this:
You are WORTHY now, right this minute, AS IS!!!!!
Brown has an amazing TedEX Talk and other videos on her website– even one about empathy that I recommend for kids. You can find all of them on here.
The thing is, confidence and self-esteem isn’t just a teen issue. There are many times throughout our lives that we struggle with a lack of self-confidence. If we feel bad about ourselves, we are performing that script for our children. Their young eyes are on us every day as we make choices and navigate our own complicated lives. We are in the spotlight, the camera is focused on us. So it’s up to us, first and foremost, to be a good role-model for our children. As I’ve said before, we can’t give our children something that we don’t have. (Actually, I think Brene’ Brown said that!)
To help our children gain self-esteem, we have to change the script. We have to be willing to look in the mirror and say, “I look great today!” instead of “Do you think I look fat in this dress?” We have to show them that it’s OK to walk out the door with no makeup on. We have to make positive changes in our lives when we are unhappy. We have to stand up for ourselves when others treat us poorly. You can tell them everyday how awesome they are. But what they really need to see, in addition to all that, is how awesome you think you are!
All I want for my daughter, all any of us want for our children, is that they do better than us — be wiser, smarter, stronger. We want them to discover their talents and ignite that spark that leads them to their dreams. The first step in helping them is to help ourselves.
This is a Journey for all of us, young and old alike. I hope you rock your confidence!
You can download our Playlist and our confidence activity calendar from these links:
© Vulnerable Path, 2015