Thank you, Girl Scout volunteers! Every day, our adult members bring girls experiences filled with fun, friendship and discovery.
These incredible—and essential—volunteers give their time to mentor girls, inspire them, and help them discover the world around them and the spark inside them.
Check out these "22 Ways to Say Thanks on April 22."
The Legendary Leaders Circle honors troop leaders and co-leaders who distinguish themselves by ushering girls through the Girl Scout experience for 10 or more years. Their commitment and love help build women of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. If you have been a leader or co-leader for a decade or more, please complete a brief form so we can welcome you into the Legendary Leader Circle and send you an exclusive membership pin.
Irene Barajas and Lisa Eshelman are among the more than 100 volunteers who have joined to date. Irene and Lisa share their experiences in an interview. Please check out their inspiring conversation.
Tell us about your troops.
Lisa: I led Troop 4373 from first-year Brownies through high school. We had 11 members at the time of their graduation. Then, I led Troop 4026 from first-year Daisies through their graduation from high school last year. We had planned a post-graduation cruise that May. When it was cancelled due to the pandemic, we received a special exception to remain a troop until we can take that trip.
Irene: For the past 15 years or so, I have had around 50 girls in my troop at one time. Currently, as I work towards retirement, my troop has 29 Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors…including my granddaughters.
What does Girl Scouts do as an organization?
Lisa: Girl Scouts teaches girls social, leadership, ethical, organizational, and business skills like no other organization. It pulls girls out of their comfort zones and makes them stronger.
Irene: The beauty of Girl Scouts is that it brings out the natural strength girls had all along, but weren’t aware of, mostly due to a lack of opportunity. The Girl Scout program brings out this strength, while giving them pride in themselves and their communities. Whether a girl is a member for one year or the entirety of the program, she will remember what she learned all the way through adulthood and allow Girl Scouts’ strong values to guide her.
Are you a Girl Scout alum?
Lisa: No, but I always wanted to be! Growing up as a traditional Hispanic child in the ’70’s and ’80’s, I did all of our activities with my family. I became involved in Girl Scouts when my oldest daughter asked to join in kindergarten. I jumped in with both feet!
Irene: No. I went to a traditional, all-girl Catholic school in Tijuana and assumed my girls would follow the same path. To my surprise, when it was time to register my oldest daughter for school, my husband expressed that he felt public school was a better option. (He even ran for the school board.) I was both shocked and concerned, worried that my girls wouldn’t have the same values instilled at a young age as I had. When I heard about Girl Scouts, I immediately searched the White Pages and attended a meeting. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly, but they only spoke English, and my daughter did not. That day, I decided to start a bilingual English-Spanish troop and recruited 40 Brownies.
What aspect of being involved in Girl Scouts makes you the proudest?
Lisa: I am most proud of my girls. Watching them grow onto these incredible, independent women and being told I was an inspiration is a feeling like no other.
One of my most moving and surprising moments happened last summer when I volunteered to be a “porch pixie,” delivering special gift boxes during the Gold Award ceremony. Among the girls randomly assigned to me was one named Faith. I did not think I knew her. When she came out to find the box on her porch, she started crying and said, “Mrs. Eshelman, how did you know I earned my Gold Award?” It turned out that, many years’ prior, Faith had taken an after-school “Lotions and Potions” class that I taught to keep junior high girls interested in science and math. The girls learned how to make soaps, lotions, and other beauty products from natural ingredients and then explored how to create a business with them. When Faith told me that my class inspired her Gold Award project and interest in self-care, it brought tears to my own eyes. You never know how you affect the people who come in and out of your life!
Irene: I am the proudest of my girls in Troop 5912. Being able to watch them grow into extraordinary young women that truly believe in themselves is the best!
What challenges has your troop faced the past year due to COVID-19?
Lisa: My current troop had a challenging time due to COVID-19. The girls all missed their senior proms, high school graduations were a letdown for them, and grad nights were cancelled. On top of all that, the troop trip to the Caribbean that we had been planning for 13 years was postponed. Zoom meetings also became a big challenge for us, because my girls spent all week on their computers for school.
Irene: The use of technology as a replacement for face-to-face interaction was very difficult for my girls and me for many reasons. Zoom calls replaced consistent meetings, community events, and troop outings. Issues like poor service and lack of household technology—on top of all their school work moving to the computer—made it hard for the girls.
How did you and your troop overcome these challenges?
Lisa: My co-leader and I tried to do small things for the girls to keep encouraging them, including drawing chalk messages on their driveways and delivering meeting supplies. Later, when we found out our trip was cancelled, we created “sunshine baskets” (small gift baskets filled with all-yellow snacks, accessories, etc.). The girls’ favorite Zoom group activity was mini campfires with s’mores.
Irene: To take pressure off the girls, we stopped meeting online. Instead, my co-leader and I kept in touch by mailing letters and participating in badge-earning activities that coincided with current events and Girl Scout holidays.
Who/what inspired you to keep going?
Lisa: The girls. It was always about the girls.
Irene: Finding out that I was the inspiration to my girls kept me moving forward. My father, a World War II veteran, taught me to live life with a do or die attitude. His words, “You always keep moving forward,” inspired me to keep going and stay strong for the girls. I believe in their capabilities and trust in their Girl Scout strength. Nothing can stop them!
What are your hopes for your girls this year?
Lisa: I hope we can finally take our trip and enjoy seeing a part of the world together. I also hope for a smooth transition to the next chapters of their lives and to see them flourish.
Irene: I want to watch my girls achieve their goals: Cadettes earn their Silver Awards and Seniors begin their Gold Award projects. I hope to watch my Ambassadors participate in their Gold Award ceremony and celebrate the amazing work they did to achieve this high honor.
What advice do you want to give your Girl Scouts?
Lisa: The lessons you learned from the Girl Scout Law are just as true today as they were when you were little. Take them with you as you start the next journey of your lives. Remember: Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.
Irene: Always continue moving forward, remember what life is all about, and—most of all—remember you are a Girl Scout!
What would you tell someone who is on the fence about volunteering?
Lisa: You will only have your children at home with you for a short period of life. Take advantage of the time you have with your girl. If it’s important to her, you will be able to find the time to volunteer. I promise it will be well worth it.
Irene: Volunteering can be intimating, but you are well supported. From peer volunteers to the GSSD council staff, there are always people there to help you through trainings or by providing a listening ear or words of wisdom. You will never regret the time you spent working with these girls. Every second with them is worth it.
What advice would you give a fellow troop leader who might be feeling burned out after this past year?
Lisa: This is not going to last forever. Your girls need you now, more than ever. The example you are setting by showing them how you deal with and get through adversity, is a lesson that will stay with your girls for a lifetime. It is priceless.
Irene: Do it for the girls! They are burned out, too. They are going through tough things, too. Imagine ending your day knowing you were the light that showed them that resiliency and strength to move forward. We are Girl Scout strong!
A special thank you to Irene, Lisa, and Legendary Leaders everywhere for their love and commitment to Girl Scouts and their girls.
Service unit recognitions chairs celebrate adult volunteers and girls in their area by planning yearly celebrations and finding other creative ways to celebrate volunteers year-round. If you'd like more information on becoming a service unit recognitions chair, contact your service unit manager or email firstname.lastname@example.org.