Don’t you love this time of year? It’s a time filled with family, friends and most definitely sharing of fond memories and great stories. It’s also a time to reflect on the past year and get ready for another 365 days ahead.
What a fantastic pre-holiday chat we had with Girl Scout Alumna and Board of Directors Member Mary Jorgenson. It was a reflection of her Girl Scout memories, the deepening of a mother / daughter bond and a look into the future for the next generation of Girl Scouts.
Like many Girl Scout alumnae, Mary remembers her experience fondly. Of course, there are always a few memories an alumna never forgets. For Mary, these never forget memories include camping as a 9 year old Brownie in Michigan. She remembers this as her first Girl Scout camp-out. It was two nights and included a nature scavenger hunt.
Mary’s second favorite memory took place when she was a Junior. By this time, her family had moved to Lawrence and she was participating in a troop supported by two University of Kansas students. The troop got to experience an overnight at their dorm.
“I remember that we laughed and played Hey Jude by the Beatles over and over on the record player,” Mary said. “It was something that we got to stay in the dorm and connect with these young women.”
Outdoor experiences and growing friendships – we are sure that the majority of alumnae would share similar stories tied to these themes. After all, these are two critical tenets which set Girl Scouts a part from other organizations.
From troop camping to attending her first day camp at Hidden Valley in Lawrence, Mary embraced everything possible in the outdoors. In fact her Girl Scout camping experience led her to take on an even bigger challenge in high school. She signed up and then qualified to join fellow students on a two-week backpacking trip to climb Longs Peak in Colorado. It was also during this trip that Mary rappelled for the first time.
“With my teacher’s encouragement, we made it to the top of the peak,” Mary said. “I never forgot what he said, and I still carry it with me – I climbed Longs Peak, now I can do anything.”
Taking that mantra, Mary went onto to have meaningful life adventures. Of course this included becoming a mom to three daughters (and you guessed it, they are Girl Scout alumnae too!) Mary was the troop leader for her three daughters’ troops. Being a troop leader and watching her daughters, Katie, Ellen and Molly develop into strong women was priceless.
One of the areas Mary wanted to make sure her daughters had a chance to cultivate was their outdoor skills. Day camp was a great first step and certainly grew to an anticipated annual tradition. Mary volunteered in several leadership roles including Day Camp Director.
Giving girls opportunities to take on adventure became extremely important to Mary. She loved that girls could try out rappelling, climbing and ziplining. Beyond just her daughters, Mary wanted more girls to experience taking on a challenge. She stepped up and became an adventure program instructor lasting just about 10 years.
“I became an instructor so more girls could have this experience,” Mary said. “I loved the challenge of choice concept and that each girl had their own unique challenge they strived to accomplish.”
Like what Mary had accomplished making it to the top of Longs Peak, she wanted all girls to know that if they accomplish something they didn’t think they could that everything after would seem possible.
“There’s no other place like Girl Scouts where you get that loving push and encouragement to take on these types of challenges,” Mary said.
Today, Mary’s daughters are off leading their lives as confident young women. And, this opens the door for her to take on a brand new volunteer role. We are thrilled that Mary has joined our Board of Directors. Her outdoor knowledge and volunteer experience will be invaluable as our council sets forth a comprehensive program and property plan to lead us into the future.
“I want to see our programs have great progression,” Mary said. “I want younger girls to look to older girls and get excited for what they will get to do.”
Mary believes that partnerships are critical to bringing the best experiences to girls. Partnerships with parents/caregivers and more community program leaders will guide our future.
With Mary Jorgenson back with our council, we are destined for a fantastic future ahead. We know that more girls need to experience their challenge of choice and feel the sense of accomplishment just like Mary after reaching the top of Longs Peak.
Mary Jorgenson is a Girl Scout through and through. She treasured her experience as a girl member and is now working to lift up the next generation of Girl Scouts.
Do you know a Girl Scout volunteer and/or alumna like Mary? Share his or her story with us by leaving a comment below! We love to feature all the amazing individuals across our 47 counties.