Man Enough to be a Girl Scout – Dylan Smith
Wrangling a group of 2nd graders (21 of them!) around Kansas City is not for the faint of heart. Especially when you have little leaders like Girl Scouts! Dylan Smith is a Girl Scout dad and troop leader in Kansas City, MO who is dedicated to providing an exceptional Girl Scout experience for the Brownie troop at Academie Lafayette (a French immersion charter school in KCMO). This special troop has the added advantage of being part of a school that teaches in French, so all the girls are learning to be bilingual. To keep up with these vivacious, intelligent young women, Dylan Smith, his family and parents in the troop work hard to create memorable experiences that are focused on fun.
The Smith family is all about art and experiencing life in the outdoors. As a senior Art Director at VML, Dylan spends much of his day creating eye-catching campaigns to help companies get their message across to consumers. On top of that, the Smith family just welcomed baby Zephyr into the family three months ago! As you can imagine, the job can be demanding and with a new baby, time is precious, but that doesn’t stop Dylan from taking the lead twice a month at the Plaza Branch of the Plaza Library for Girl Scouts.
The Smith family’s Girl Scout adventure started in the fall of 2014 when their daughter, Phoenix (age 5 at the time), wanted to join the Daisy troop at her school. There was already an older troop in existence, but the school needed someone to lead the younger girls. As with many troop leaders, Dylan stepped up when no other alternatives became available. As a dad, he wants girls to see women in leadership roles – especially in organizations like Girl Scouts. However, with the risk of the troop not coming together, he took the lead. “I really like the principals of teaching girls to be leaders, […] the business aspects, girls leading meetings when they are older, all of that teaches girls to succeed. So for me, a big part of that is having female troop leaders that lead by example. To show girls that women can be in these positions of authority,” Dylan said.
Since Dylan is such a strong believer in developing young leaders, he helps the girls figure out what they want to do as a troop. While some badges he selects based on his skillset to teach because of the ages of the girls, he gives them a voice whenever possible. That’s why the girls have done events like overnights at the KC Zoo with the penguins, outings around Kansas City and of course, camping!
Troop 842 loves the outdoors and the girls get to really cut loose when out in nature. In March and August of 2015 the troop visited Camp Prairie Schooner and Camp Tongawood for some time in the outdoors. For Dylan, he loves getting to see how engaged they get with nature. “The most captivated our girls have ever been was when my wife was showing them a deer bone when camping. They were almost drooling! And a frog became a little bit of an issue because everyone wanted to hold the frog…so we had to tell them to take turns to not hurt this frog,” Dylan said.
For this young troop, the Smith family is finding a community in their Girl Scouting experience with the parents and families that work together to give girls a great experience. While running a troop is time consuming, having a community makes it possible – even with a busy schedule like Dylan’s. “You need to have parents who are willing to help…it’s a team effort. But [you’ll find] that the people who get involved are the best people. It’s really rewarding in that sense. You get to know these people, establish friendships and share these experiences,” Dylan said.
By sharing his love of nature, art and leadership with girls, Dylan hopes to lead his girls to discovering leadership and confidence in their own time by exposing them to new experiences. Because so many girls don’t spend a lot of time outside, that’s become a main focus of what Dylan wants to show his troop. “I’m not actively teaching them to be a leader, I’m hoping it’ll come naturally from meetings, going out and being in new situations. My main goal is to get these girls in tune with the environment and nature. Get them to be more athletic and engaged with the outdoors,” Dylan said.
For Dylan and Phoenix, Girl Scouts is another great way for them to spend time together. This dad and daughter duo have their own video blog, go to soccer together (Dylan coaches) and work on her homework together because Dylan knows some French. It’s amazing to see a father so engaged in helping his daughter excel, while still putting a premium on having Lindsey (his wife) show Phoenix great female leadership.
We love what Dylan, his family, and the Girl Scouts families of Academie Lafayette are doing for girls! Thank you for all the hard work, dedication, and leadership you’re showing girls. If you’re “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” and looking for camping opportunities with your Girl Scout this summer, check out our “You & Me: He” camping sessions! These are BRAND NEW camping sessions created just for male caregivers and Girl Scouts!
If you know of an awesome dad who’s “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” – share the story in the comments!