ABOVE: Beth and Abby Vorhaus, an inspiring mother-daughter duo and both former Girl Scouts, recently served as the keynote speakers for Girl Scouts Honors Day. // SUBMITTED
By BETH and ABBY VORHAUS
We are mother and daughter.
We are educator and U.S. Army officer. We are traveler and outdoor adventurer. We are Girl Scouts.
No matter where life takes us, once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout. Recently, life took us to Honors Day, Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee’s annual ceremony celebrating young women from across the 39-county region who have earned Girl Scouting’s highest awards, including the coveted Gold Award. We were privileged to be the event’s keynote speakers. As we stood before the assembled Girl Scouts, we realized we were standing before the future.
The girls who worked so hard to earn their awards have different passions and pursuits, just like we did when we were Girl Scouts. But the differences are minor compared with the similarities. And the similarities are rooted in the sustainable impact every girl and every invaluable troop leader commits to making in the world – today, tomorrow, and always.
Let’s take the Gold Award for starters.
In order to rise to the level of Gold, a Girl Scout must ensure and articulate how her project is sustainable – how it will continue to make a difference long after it’s complete. This consideration and planning for the future is an essential and unique component of Girl Scouting’s highest honor.
This is just one of the things that distinguishes the purpose of Girl Scouting. Girl Scouting gives girls of all ages opportunities and chances to immerse themselves in the great outdoors, chances to lead and collaborate, chances to take risks in a safe environment, and chances to develop their interests into initiatives that matter for the long term.
Beth had a chance in the 1980s when representing GSUSA to visit India to work in a village school, fostering her lifelong interest in early childhood education and passion for travel. Abby had a chance on a canoe trip in Minnesota and Canada – a wonderful memory of a terrible storm that her troop toughed out together. She also brought her love of nature to young girls she mentored at Girl Scout camp, and the leadership and management skills she developed in Girl Scouts to her job as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army.
This is how Girl Scouts define sustainability. More than simply creating young women of character, the sustainable ethos of Girl Scouting creates young women who are both equipped to better the world and intent on helping the next generation do the same.
At Honors Day, we extolled the importance of troop leaders, many of them former Girl Scouts, to the Girl Scout experience. Girl Scout troop leaders instill and foster a chemistry within each troop that is completely unique. This is not happenstance. Girl Scouts has thrived for more than 100 years – and will continue to do so – because everyone affiliated with Girl Scouting recognizes the individuality and potential of every girl. In a world that too often typecasts and sidelines girls, Girl Scouting is designed to discern their strengths as individuals, discern their strengths as a group, and prepare them to take on any challenge – at any point in life.
That’s what the Gold Award recognizes. That what Honors Day celebrates. And that’s what sustainability means, Girl Scout style.
Beth and Abby Vorhaus were the keynote speakers at Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee’s annual Honors Day on April 28. Beth is an education consultant at Vanderbilt University. Abby graduated from Brentwood High School and the United States Military Academy at West Point, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army in 2018.