The Value of Being a Dad and a Girl Scout

by: Mike Camp

One of my priorities is to create a work-life balance, no matter how difficult it becomes.  I know that in thirty years my children will remember the times I spent with them and most of my coworkers will have forgotten my career accomplishments.

When balancing my time with family, I look at this time on a 0-10, 10-20 and 20-30 scale. This scale shows how our children enjoy spending time with us. We can influence them a lot from 0 to 10 years of age. Between the ages of 10 and 20; they begin to develop interests outside of the family and spend less time with us.  When our children reach the age of 20, they are already out in the world, beginning to live the life we helped influence. Finally, by the age of 30, most of our children are married and will have children of their own, which will consume most of their time.

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Since we clearly have limited time to spend with our children, it becomes critical how we choose to spend what time we do have with them.  On October 11, 2006 I became a father for the first time, and seeing my daughter changed my outlook and mindset instantly.  My main focus became trying to be the best influence possible and providing her everything she would need in this life to be successful.  I found early on how much we both enjoyed the time we spent together, which helped us build a special relationship.

Last year, my daughter Madelyn wanted to join her local Girl Scout troop, and parents were asked to sign up as well.  I immediately raised my hand to ask the troop leader if a dad could sign up to be a Girl Scout.  To my surprise, she said a dad could sign up!  Following the meeting I went home to talk with my wife and daughter about signing up. After only a few moments of discussion, they both approved my application. My daughter had only one stipulation: she asked me not to wear my Girl Scout shirt in public.  I complied.

You might ask why a dad would even consider signing up to be a Girl Scout.  Well, for years I have shared with my daughter the importance of being able to stand on her own, be independent, and accomplish whatever she wanted to do with no limitations.  Last year she asked if she would be allowed to be the President of the United States, because only boys were the President.  I told her not only can she be the President, but she would be the brightest, most beautiful President yet if she wanted to be.  I told her to never allow anyone to tell her what she was allowed to be based on her gender.  I had the opportunity to deliver on my words by becoming a Girl Scout.

I filled out the application, completed the required background check form and attended a training session. After submitting my application, I anxiously awaited the news and a few weeks later I received my official Girl Scout letter. I was an official Girl Scout in the state of Arkansas.  I showed the letter to my daughter and she immediately smiled and gave me a big hug.  I still have this letter, and will keep it as a reminder of how I showed my daughter the importance of having the courage to do something even when others don’t.   You read it correctly: my name is Mike, and I am a Girl Scout.  Can it be true? Are guys really allowed to be Girl Scouts? These are only some of the questions I receive when attending Girl Scout events with my daughter.  I remember moms being involved in the Cub Scouts as a child, so why was it such a surprise for a dad to be a Girl Scout?

Not long into my new role as an Arkansas Diamonds Girl Scout, we were thrust into ‘cookie mania!’  After we received training on how to sell the cookies, my daughter and I embarked on a mission to sell as many as possible– together.  We sat down to determine what our goal would be and who we would connect with to buy the cookies.  We both decided 500 boxes sounded pretty cool, so we put our plans into action to sell some cookies.  With my daughter by my side, we began to take cookie orders from friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.  I will be honest with you, I was a little worried on how we would be able to sell 500 boxes of cookies.  I knew one thing for certain, though… there was no way I was going to let my daughter down. So, I told my wife to be prepared to write a check for a lot of cookies if necessary, and our family might be receiving boxes of Girl Scout cookies for their next few birthdays and holidays… not that anyone would mind!

I can proudly say that, after a few grueling weeks, we sold more than 500 boxes of cookies, which was the highest total in our troop. I tell people selling 500 boxes of cookies is pretty amazing, but what’s more amazing is that we delivered on our sales, considering neither of us had ever done this before.  Unfortunately, when we were planning how to sell all of these cookies, we failed to think about the delivery strategy.  When we picked up the 500 boxes of cookies, I was in total confusion as to how these cookies would be sorted and delivered. Where would we even store so many boxes of cookies?

How would we keep them easily sorted for delivery? So, with a garage loaded with boxes of cookies, we began to think of the best way to address the delivery strategy.  Luckily, I have a brilliant wife and daughter who have a gift for logistics and keeping things simple.  They were able to get all 500 boxes sorted and packaged for delivery in less than a few hours.

The delivery part of the cookie project was the most enjoyable for me.  I was able to take my daughter, with her little red wagon in tow, to deliver these cookies all over town.  We walked throughout the halls of my office, our neighborhood, and my daughter’s school delivering cookies and enjoying this quality time together.  Spending this time with my daughter was truly amazing; I was able to see her in action as she delivered the cookies, collected the money and visited with her customers.  During our walks, we would talk about things going on in her life, what was on her mind, and, of course, how much she enjoyed this time with her dad.  We were both pretty exhausted when the 543rd box was delivered in less than a few days.

Since joining the Girl Scouts last year, I have participated in a Christmas tree decorating event at a local senior center, a Christmas caroling event, World Thinking Day, and a cookie training event. Throughout these events I have tried to project a positive role model for my daughter and the rest of her troop, while learning what it means to be a Girl Scout along the way.  I may not wear the Girl Scout vest or actually earn badges, but I am a Girl Scout.  I don’t attend the monthly meetings, but our troop leader supports all parents to volunteer whenever we have events.

While attending these events, I have become accustomed to being one of the only dads present, which is the main reason for this article.  I share this story because I want to inspire my fellow dads to get involved and to challenge the status quo when it comes to what role society says we should play as a father.  As fathers, we want our children to have access to the best environment, the best opportunities, and the best experiences the world can offer.  In order for our children to have these opportunities, we must provide an environment which supports these goals. One way we can prepare our children is by teaching them to challenge that status quo when necessary, and not to quit just because something is difficult or others may not agree with us.

Bottom line, there are more than a few benefits for me being a Girl Scout. One benefit is it allows me the ability to spend quality time with my daughter doing something she likes to do. I am also able to show my daughter how much I support her by being involved in her life and influencing how she sees the world. Another benefit is that my company supports my volunteer hours through a program that grants $250 per quarter to her Girl Scout troop.  Another benefit of being a Girl Scout is the ability to show my son what it means to be a confident man by having the courage to do something outside of the norm, and to show him what a loving father will do to support his children.

So listen up dads, when your daughter asks to become a Girl Scout, show her how much you support her decision by becoming a Girl Scout too!