When Angelica Estrada ’17 was in elementary school, she had to knock on doors and camp outside of grocery stores to get people to buy her Girl Scout cookies. The competition amongst the 20 other nine-year-old girls in her troop was fierce. Now that she is one of the few Girl Scouts at Harvard-Westlake, people come to her.
“Honestly, it felt kind of cool being one of the few girls selling cookies during cookie season,” Estrada said. “It made Girl Scouts feel even more special to me. Like, I was even prouder to be a Girl Scout.”
According to a Chronicle poll of 374 students, 5 percent are still active members of a troop.
Girl Scouts do far more than just sell Thin Mints and Samoas once a year. According to the website, Girl Scouts at the elementary school level earn badges, sell cookies, hike and camp.
In middle and high school, the commitment grows more intense as participants begin to explore careers in STEM and other fields and travel and work on projects to better their communities.
“Girl Scouts also gives me the chance to refine my leadership, business and outdoorsy skills, and I feel like I’ve become so much more sure of myself because I know what I’m capable of, and that’s all thanks to Girl Scouts,” Estrada said.
In both of the programs, there are different levels for different age groups, and it takes time and dedication to rise through the ranks.
Girl Scouts begin as Daisies and Brownies at the beginning of elementary school and then graduate as Ambassadors. Boy Scouts has a similar hierarchy system with boys starting out as Scouts and ending as Eagle Scouts, the highest level. Kent Sheridan ’17 graduated as an Eagle Scout two years ago, having initially been encouraged by his brother and friends to join Boy Scouts in elementary school.
Though he said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he began, he is very thankful for his time in the program.
Sheridan said the trips he and his troop went on were his favorite memories from the program.
“This summer was the international Jamboree in Denmark, and we got to see and hang out with a bunch of people from all over Europe and the world and reconnect with our Danish Girl Scout friends,” he said. “That was one of my favorite trips in my whole life, the most vivid memory being the Europe tour through Amsterdam, Normandy and Paris once the Jamboree was done.”
Joyce Shin ’18, who is currently a Girl Scout, shares Sheridan’s appreciation for the Scout-sponsored trips she has participated in.
“The most fun memories I have was when I went to San Diego with my troop for a weekend,” she said. “We worked hard for two years to fund it, and we had a great time.”
Yet, all three of these students recognized a decline in participation as they have gotten older. In fact, 29 percent of students polled said they discontinued their involvement in the program.
Sheridan said this can be due to several reasons, including simply graduating from one’s troop or a lack of time with the increased high school workload.
Even Estrada, an active member of Girl Scouts, said she has had to sacrifice her involvement in the Girl Scouts program, specifically in cookie sales, as school has intensified.
“I’ve always been the top seller in the troop every year, except for this year because college stuff was kicking my booty,” Estrada said. “When I was younger, I was hard-core into cookie selling because I wanted to do as much as I could to help my troop earn money, but my passion cooled just a little bit these last two years because I was preoccupied with other stuff.”