Proud to Be a Girl Scout Dad

Carmen D. Lade

Every year during the time when my daughters are selling Girl Scout Cookies, I am often asked by my conservative friends, fellow father’s righters (by the way I am really a shared custody guy) and once, just some random guy in a store, how I could support the Girl Scouts. My social media feeds and the click-bait articles that permeate my news streams also choose this time of year to denigrate the organization for supposed ties to Planned Parenthood and militant feminists. I have even been asked how I justify being affiliated with the Girl Scouts while proclaiming to be a Christian. I would like to share my experience to explain why I am proud to be a Girl Scout Dad.

From October 2009 to August 2011, I was separated from my daughters by a very nasty divorce. In addition to the traditional husband- wife dynamic to our divorce, I had chosen to resist the current system in regards to not being a stereotype placed on fathers and refused to have my time with my daughters diminished. I found myself at odds with several angry female family counselors determined to place me in their punitive preconceived mold on how fathers are bad and even had one go as far as to try to fabricate a confession from my daughter of a horrible nature that would have terminated my rights forever. I had a misandrist for a judge who went as far as ending the custody hearing and forcing mediation when,due to expert testimony, the narrative shifted outside of her narrow world mindset.

As a compromise in my custody hearing to get joint custody and a fair custodial time, I agreed to attend a 24 week program that was supposed to teach conflict resolution skills but instead was 24 weeks of male-shaming. By fall 2011, it is an understatement to say I had my fill of misandry.

Restarting a functional relationship with my oldest daughter, I told her I wanted to do an activity that would allow us to bond during my relegated weekend time. She chose the Brownies, I tried to offer other activities and was not sure if this was an environment I wanted to expose her to. I reluctantly agreed to attend. For the 1st year I was just a drop-off parent but I liked the lessons she was being taught and I started to see the difference between female empowerment and what I had been exposed to. I observed the confidence my daughter was learning and the stability the organization and new friends was bringing to her life. The second year the troop had changes to leadership and more delegation of volunteer roles. My daughter knew my interest in the outdoors and encouraged me to be involved with her troop camping so I took my first leadership role as one of the troop campers. As I became involved with other volunteers I found the Girl Scout world to be very welcoming. Counter to my own preconceived ideas of what female empowerment would look like, I found the teachings were very much in line with what I was teaching my girls. From encouragement in careers with a STEM background to lessons of personal responsibility, I loved the Girl Scout experience for my girls. When my youngest daughter reached the minimum age of 5, she was excited to receive a Girl Scout membership and Daisy apron of very own on her birthday.

The next fall I tried to place my youngest in a troop of her own and could not find a troop meeting at a time that worked with my custodial time. I presented my issue to the local Service Unit and was surprised to be encouraged to form my own troop. I then surprised myself and did it!

Since fall of 2014, I have been a leader of a Girl Scout Troop. I have been very happy with the curriculum and experiences we give the girls. Each troop is autonomous and ultimately leadership is pushed back on to the girls with the adults merely guiding.

In my 5 years as a troop leader I have never been asked to teach anything that goes against my beliefs as a Christian and in fact Girl Scouts offers a pin the girls can earn annually called My Promise, My Faith which encourages girls to explore their own faith. This pin encourages the girls to individually explore the connection between the principles in Girl Scouts and the beliefs the girls are learning in their own home. The girls take one of the principles of scouting to a woman of their faith who was also a scout and see how the two teachings mesh.

If I was convinced that there was detriment to the faith of my girls I would have pulled them. I have found in my area that the local churches and the troops have a relationship of providing meeting spaces and gathering spots while the 2 groups are separate in their teachings they are still allied in wanting prosperous futures for the girls.

I have men in some of my social circles ask why I haven’t made the jump to put my girls in Boy Scouts now that is an option. My answer is simple, the Girl Scouts have made great memories, experiences and supporting friendships for both my girls. The lessons, opportunities and connections my girls have made have given them experiences that they would not have had otherwise. The summer camps, visits to the State Capitol, STEM expos, horseback riding and overnight trips with their friends are amazing childhood memories I would not have been able to provide. They are happy where they are.

In addition to the positive experiences and support for my girls, I have had positive experiences and memories along with my girls. I mentioned above where I was in 2011. I was very guarded around women of power. The changes I have experienced here have been awesome. The support of Girl Scout leaders and parents has been very encouraging. I have never been discouraged from trying new things with my daughters and have been provided the resources and contacts to be a better influence in the lives of my girls. The friendships I have made with Girl Scouts leaders and volunteers have been an incredible influence in my own world outlook. In leading the girls, sometimes they are not the only ones who learn valuable lessons.

The views expressed in this article are merely my own personal response to various postings, articles and even personal inquiries. My expressed statements are my own and do not reflect or pretend to be the official statement of Girl Scouts of the United States, Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta or any individual troops or service units with which I may be affiliated. I am just a dad and writer feel free to like my Facebook page for other similar articles

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