Girl Scouting makes big impact

The Girl Scouts program and the trips it offers can make a positive difference in the lives of its members, Regional Program Manager and Travel Coordinator Suzanne Goralczyk said Tuesday at the Buckhannon Rotary Club meeting.

Goralczyk said that there are three commonly known C’s of Girl Scouting: camps, crafts and cookies.

“We are those things,” Goralczyk said. “We do go camping. We do work on crafts. We do sell those cookies, but we’re so much bigger and better than that. Our mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who work to make the world a better place.”

Goralczyk said that 80 percent of female business owners have participated in Girl Scouts. Girl Scout alumni have been on board 41 missions flown into space. Goralczyk also said that 70 percent of women in Congress are Girl Scout alumni.

“I know that our mission works personally because of what it did for me,” Goralczyk said. “When I was little, my head was always in the clouds. My teachers were constantly trying to pull me back down to Earth. They were always telling me to quit daydreaming. But my troop leader, she never told me that.

“Instead, she found herself a big, old ladder, climbed up right into those clouds with me, and she asked me what I was dreaming about. Then she took it one step further, and she helped me organize those dreams into actual accomplishable goals. That later played a really important part in my life.”

Goralczyk said she later became friends with the wrong crowd. She said bad grades made it difficult to get accepted into college. Goralczyk said her mother called her former Girl Scout leader, who took her on a drive with an unknown destination that turned out to be the campus of Michigan State University.

“As we drove, she reminded me about the goals and the dreams that I had for myself and we shared together,” Goralczyk said.

Heartfelt talks and a newly found love of the school helped Goralczyk get motivated to change her direction. Her former Girl Scout leader helped her get the tutoring she needed to bring her grades up. Goralczyk graduated from Michigan State University with honors in 2004 and returned to Girl Scouts to begin her career on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico.

“I knew that I wanted to be able to work for the organization and have that same impact on another girl’s life,” Goralczyk said. “I was so excited when I got the job with Girl Scouts, and I am able to do that now.”

Goralczyk said she helped a young Girl Scout overcome her fear of ziplining on a trip by telling her not to think of going the entire distance, but just to put her left foot in front of her right. Then she told her to put her left foot in front of her right foot, and so on.

“I thought I could stop saying that and she could do it,” Goralczyk said. “I had to keep saying that all the way across. Before you knew it, she was across. She looked back at me with the biggest smile on her face. After that, every single obstacle she completed. You could just see her confidence grow and grow.”

Some upcoming Girl Scout trips include a haunted and historical trip to Gettysburg; an underground adventure in Cave City, Ky.; an adventure in Pittsburgh; the Great Smoky Mountain Girl Trek; an expedition to Alaska; and the European Jet Setter, where members visit France, England and other countries.

The next trip will be local to Upshur County, however. Girl Scouts from Upshur County and other counties in West Virginia will travel to the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in French Creek. The trip will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19.

Goralczyk said that the members of Girl Scouts are able to sell cookies to go on trips they otherwise would not be able to afford.