Compassion, adventure and strength are what generations are gaining through Girl Scouts.
Lois Lee and her daughters Rebekah Owens and Deborah Lee are proof.
“Girl Scouts helps girls become strong women,” Lois Lee, 52, of Union said. “For me, the Girl Scouts is about service and leaderships. Being involved with this organization taught me to serve my community and how to lead.”
Lois is a Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road alumnus. She started her Scout journey in Boone County, in 1976, when she entered the second grade. Her mom was “an amazing” Brownie leader, Lois said. Out of everything she experienced in her youth, Lois said that serving the community with her mom and the rest of the Girl Scouts in her troop had the most impact on her heart.
“It was simple things like picking up litter, planting flowers in the church yard where our troop met and singing at senior care homes,” she said. “But it was very influential in my life.”
Lois grew up to become a special education teacher – impacting the lives of countless students and their families. She also stuck with the Scouts. She served as a troop leader for her own daughters and to this day is still active with Kentucky’s Wilderness Road group.
According to Lois, it has been an amazing adventure to share Girl Scouts with her daughters – creating an even stronger bond between the three of them.
“I wanted my daughters to understand that service to others is a way of life.” Lois said. “Both of my daughters learned leadership skills while being involved in Girl Scouts, which will last them their whole lives. My daughters make me proud. They volunteer their time to teach, help, and encourage others.”
Rebekah, 24, of Florence said that being in Girl Scouts with her mother as her leader was an amazing opportunity and adventure. The experience presented her with a fresh and unique perspective of her mother.
“I loved having my mom as my troop leader,” Rebekah said. “We were able to do things together beyond our home and she got to watch me mature with the organization. It gave me a behind-the-scenes look at my mom in a position of leadership too.”
According to Rebekah, Girl Scouts showed her how to be comfortable in her own skin. As other girls began to form their social groups in middle school, she quickly realized that Girl Scouts provided a social outlet that offered genuine support.
“In Girl Scouts, I could be myself and I realized I didn’t need to fit into a certain crowd,” she said. That confidence gained her the title of National American Miss Kentucky in 2016.
Rebekah said the skills and adventure of Girl Scouts continue to carry over into her adult life. She works as a member service representative at Kemba Credit Union, a company, known for active community involvement. As she’s able, Rebekah also travels with her husband Jason Owens, and performs in his country music band.
Still, connecting with and caring for others is most important to her.
“Being a sister to every Girl Scout has been such a great reminder to treat others with respect,” she said. “I believe in loving your neighbor as yourself.”
Deborah agrees with her older sister Rebekah. Compassion, she said, is one of the greatest qualities the Girl Scouts cultivates in young women. Learning compassion helped her come out of her shell; as a young girl, Deborah was quite shy.
Through Girl Scouts she began exploring life outside of her comfort zone. Before she knew it, she was making friends and even speaking before community leaders and taking on important leadership roles, like being a program aide. In Girl Scouts, program aides mentor younger Scouts. Both Deborah and Rebekah were program aides and today, their mother Lois still trains girls for this role.
Now 23, Deborah resides in Union and works as an elementary school teacher – perhaps a result of her mentoring years, she said.
Deborah too appreciates the “lifelong bonds” she has developed with her Scout sisters, as well as the unique connections she has made with her sister Rebekah and her mother, Lois.
“Having my mom as our troop leader was so inspiring,” she said. “I really looked up to her.”
Deborah said that being a part of Girl Scouts provided her with a sense of community and a sense of responsibility to see her community succeed. “The things I’ve learned are things that will stick with me all of my life,” she said.
Rebekah suspects such lessons will continue to be passed from generation to generation through the Girl Scouts.
“I hope as the world progresses, Girl Scouts can adapt with the world, but also stay grounded in the uplifting opportunities for women,” she said. “It really gives girls a place to develop community and gain life skills.”