Taking a Page from Girl Scout Disaster Guide

My eight-year-old is a Brownie, and a super proud Brownie at that. In addition to getting to spend extra time with her friends once a month, the chief motivation is to learn new things and earn badges. And, there are hundreds of badges! The troop has thus far earned badges for camping, night hiking, community service, cookie sales, and first aid. I recently had the opportunity to help the troop earn their philanthropy badge. And, of course, I could not help but turn the conversation toward disasters!
In preparation for the troop meeting, I went straight to the Girl Scouts website, where I found a tremendous resource called “What Can A Girl Scout Do When Disaster Strikes?” The piece is beautifully written and has many, many recommendations that transcend to the broader field of philanthropy overall.
6a59f01aaa98eafade9a7e09973cc5c1The piece is divided into three parts:

  1. Help Now — Offer a thoughtful, immediate response!
  2. Educate and Prepare — Think ahead and be ready!
  3. Change the World — Think big and create solutions!

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy and the Girls Scouts both agree that the first thing people ask themselves after a disaster is, “How can I help?”. The lesson plan encourages girls to act like a philanthropist by raising awareness or making donations. I am so impressed how the booklet asks the girls to put themselves in the shoes of a girl who lives in an area affected by a disaster. Amazing!
Girls are encouraged to do research, find out how to offer hands-on help, think about how to share the disaster story broadly, and brainstorm ways to thank people who pitch in. Lastly, girls are counseled to be judicious with in-kind donations and to know the need before making donations. While this booklet is geared toward a school aged girl, the messages are applicable to all ages!
Girl Scouts are then encouraged to prepare for disasters and help other prepare too.

When you prepare ahead and educate others to do the same, you are contributing to the country’s emergency response system.

This type of forward thinking – simple preparedness measures – if adapted broadly by Girl Scouts and philanthropic institutions more broadly, would profoundly benefit communities in times of disaster by minimizing evacuation hurdles, bolstering hospital and educational systems readiness, and ensuring communities have the necessary resources to meet or exceed the needs of a disaster that may come their way.
Lastly, Girl Scout manual calls on girls to THINK BIG and bring forth their leadership potential.

Leaders help people in the midst of a disaster, but they also look at why disasters occur and how damage can be lessened.

And, with an eye toward pragmatism, the guide offers three “Do’s”

  • Meet experts and learn more about the problems they are trying to solve;
  • Find out what has gone wrong in previous disasters and brainstorm ways to avoid them in the future; and,
  • Go on a leadership journey to inform a Take Action project.

This passion-packed six-page guide has tremendous wisdom that we should all embrace. Put ourselves in another’s shoes, prepare for a disaster situation, learn from others how to mitigate a disaster. In my book, this is profound advice for all of us.
As a parent, I am thrilled that my second grader is a part of Brownies. Leadership, self-esteem, sense of adventure, and dedication to helping others – all values that I am proud to support my daughters’ growth! The Girl Scouts believes in the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader) to change the world. As a disaster philanthropist and a mom, I can stand by that message in every way.
Thank you Girl Scouts!