Young Leader Passes on Skills to Parents

ANN ARBOR – Showing by example encouraged parents to get involved and take over leadership of Girl Scout troops here.

Crystal Mitchell, a recent University of Michigan graduate and lifetime member of Girl Scouts, signed on to become a volunteer troop leader four years ago shortly after beginning classes at U of M. A Girl Scout since Kindergarten, Mitchell happened to be passing by the former location of the Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Ann Arbor office and decided to stop in.

“I started off with a Daisy troop of three girls,” Mitchell said. “I was really big on having parent meetings. I let the families know that I would love their involvement and that this would give the girls opportunities for trips. I had a group of parents who were very involved with their kids’ lives, so they were more than happy to be involved with the troop.”
With graduate school on the horizon and a part-time job, Mitchell said she knew she would not have the time to devote exclusively to her troop. She majored in Anthropology and minored in Medical Anthropology at U of M and will take graduate class this fall at Wayne State University.

“I didn’t want to leave the troop, but the parents were already making the transition to lead the troop by themselves,” she said. “They have seen what Girl Scouts can do and what the girls have learned and how much fun they had.”

Encouraging parents and other adults to step up and be leaders is key to getting waiting lists of girls placed into troops.

“We are always looking for adults who are interested in volunteering to lead a troop,” said Janice Stanley Amin, Membership Specialist in GSHOM’s Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti regional center. “Crystal is an amazing young woman who laid the foundation for greater parental involvement and leadership.”

Mitchell said she knew when she signed up to be a leader that she would need help from time to time and her girls’ parents were always ready to pitch in.

Growing up in a military family that moved frequently, Mitchell said one of the first things her mother did upon arriving in a new town, was finding a Girl Scout troop. Mitchell said this provided consistency and the knowledge that she could do anything if she worked hard enough.

“I had more self confidence and a higher self esteem,” she said. “Through Girl Scouts I had a lot of leadership opportunities. I served on a leadership board for our whole council and after graduating I serve on an executive board here at school.”
In addition to leadership skills, Mitchell said she also learned the importance of having integrity and doing the right thing. These are qualities she wanted other girls to have.

Seeing the progressive difference in her girls as the weeks and months went on was all the encouragement Mitchell needed to remain as their leader. She said her troop looked forward to having new opportunities and taking on greater responsibility.
“What really attracted me is that I am a product of Girl Scouts and their mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character who will make the world a better place and knowing I could give that back was really awesome and a joy for me,” Mitchell said.

She promotes Girl Scouting whenever she can and said when fellow students learn that she was a Girl Scout they think it’s “pretty cool.”

“I think one of the main things is knowing that it’s a really awesome safe space for girls to be themselves and build their foundation,” Mitchell said. “It’s important to have people who want to be leaders and build a troop because it really changes the lives of girls.”