Senior Girl Scout learns leadership and girl power

Rodriguez in Savannah, Georgia, participating in a traditional flag ceremony where she and her troop honored the 100-year anniversary of the Girl Scouts.

Rodriguez in Savannah, Georgia, participating in a traditional flag ceremony where she and her troop honored the 100-year anniversary of the Girl Scouts.

By Annie Zorn

“You’re too old to be a Girl Scout” is a phrase that Sofie Rodriguez, Div. 583, has heard a lot.

Pre-teens toting thin mints and badges is what most people associate with Girl Scouts, but high schoolers who have stuck with the organization have a completely different view of it.

“Girl Scouts isn’t just about earning your badges and just like ‘ok I can build a campfire.’ You learn how to be a leader, you learn to be confident, you learn courage, you learn to be brave,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez has been a member of the Girl Scouts of America since second grade, and joined because of her family.

“My mom was a Girl Scout, my grandma was her Girl Scout leader; it was in the family,” Rodriguez said.

Besides being a co-leader of her troop, she is also a National Delegate for the Girl Scout Institute, volunteers with another troop, and is one of four girl representatives to the board of directors on the Greater Chicago Northwest Indiana Council.

As one of the representatives, she attends monthly meetings where they talk about budget and committee proposals. The board asks for the representatives to vote on issues and sometimes the girls make presentations themselves.

“A couple of years ago they asked the girl representatives to create a new day camp and [Girl Scouts] actually designed it — they’re building it now, which I think is so cool,” Rodriguez said.

Another big objective for the group is marketing. According to Rodriguez, membership is low, especially for teenage girls. They are the smallest group in Girl Scouts, but because of that, Rodriguez says that they get the most opportunities.

“The thing that girls don’t realize is that when you get older you can pick and choose what you want to do,” Rodriguez said.

An example of one of these opportunities is Camp CEO, which Rodriguez is planning on attending this summer.

“They have the girls, that are [around] my age, and they’re paired up with CEO’s of big companies throughout the nation, and they stay in a cabin with them for a week,” Rodriguez said, “They learn about Girl Scouts, and we learn about companies and how big business works.”

This past year she went to Utah for a Girl Scout convention with other delegates as part of the Girl Scout Institute.

“I was with seven other girls, and we’d never met before, and it was really awkward going to the airport and getting on the plane,” Rodriguez said, “It was cool because we had to share hotel rooms with each other, and we just got to know each other so well. Id felt like I’d known them my whole life, it was great.”

Rodriguez also says that being a part of Girl Scouts, especially her leadership positions, has helped her stand out in the college admissions process. Apart from the titles and honors she has earned through the organization, she sees the biggest effect on her personality.

“Honestly Girl Scouts is the reason why I am as outgoing and confident as I am today,” Rodriguez said.

She attributes this change in character to her troop leader encouraging her to step out of her comfort zone when she was a shy kid.

“She was like ‘Sofie, you have so much to offer, you need to let your voice be heard, let people know you’re there.’ That honestly was a big eye-opener,” Rodriguez said.

As the oldest member of her troop, she gives the younger members the same advice.

The way to get badges changed in 2012 — the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts– back to the method used in the creation of the organization.

The way you earn your badge is by going through a journey, or take action project. They typically take three to four months according to Rodriguez, but it all depends on how often a troop meets. One time Rodriguez and her troop rented a hotel room so that they could focus and complete a project. There is no one way to complete a journey, and troops have freedom to explore it in any way they want to.

“You can go arts and crafts with [a journey], if you want to do community service you can,” Rodriguez said.

Her troop’s take action project was Mission: Sisterhood!, a program that promotes self confidence in girls. Rodriguez went around Lane and filmed herself asking people about their definition of beauty and then read them the dictionary definition of beauty to capture their reaction.

“It was actually really shocking to see from across the board, teachers, male and female, go ‘Wait what? Thats what it says? That’s ridiculous,” Rodriguez said.

She then showed the video to a group of younger Girl Scouts.

“They took a lot from it, they thought it was really cool,” Rodriguez said.

They show that video often when they go to other troops to talk about self-image.

“I feel like every girl struggles with that, no matter what. You can be the most confident person in the world –like I am super confident but yeah, of course I have self esteem issues, every girl does,” Rodriguez said.

“I have a lot of strong passions for being a woman and being a girl,” Rodriguez said.