Margot Johnsen

March 31, 2020

Freshman Margot Johnsen has been a Girl Scout since she was in second grade.

Q: How has your experience as a Girl Scout changed as you’ve gotten older?
A: When you’re little, they try to focus more on lighthearted badges and teaching the core elements of Girl Scouts, like the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law, which include things like being friendly and taking care of others. Then, as you get older, the badges get more practical. For high school Girl Scouts, we have financial literacy badges and woodworking badges.

Q: Could you elaborate on some of the practical skills you might expect to learn?
A: The financial literacy badges are often tied into Girl Scout cookies. There are outdoor skills badges, like fire-building and camping, as well as cooking badges. So a lot of them are skills that are fun and, especially for older girl scouts, career-focused. You’re experimenting with skills for different careers so you can try out things and see if you like them.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception about being a Girl Scout?
A: The biggest misconception is that it’s all about selling cookies. It’s really not. Most years I don’t even sell Girl Scout cookies because there are so many Girl Scouts in our area. Only a couple of months out of the year are focused on selling cookies. We do so many other things. In the past, Girl Scouts was a lot of, “we’re going to do sewing and learn these more feminine skills.” But in recent years, Girl Scouts has introduced a lot of STEM-related and outdoor-focused badges.

Q: Have people ever judged you because you’re a Girl Scout?
A: People see Girl Scouts as a frivolous organization that just asks you for money for cookies every year. But it’s so much more than that. There are a lot of really cool opportunities that people never hear about. This past summer, I went on a Girl Scout trip to Scotland and Ireland, and I got to meet girls from all over the country. Those elements of Girl Scouts don’t really get a lot of attention. I don’t think we’re all just the smiling faces that you see on the cookie boxes.

Q: Some people think that Girl Scouts is sexist because of its focus on domestic activities. Do you think that’s true?
A: Recently, Girl Scouts has really moved away from that. A couple of years ago, when the Boy Scouts started including girls in their programs, there was talk about whether Girl Scouts should extend their membership to boys. But I think that there’s a place for a scouting organization that focuses on empowering girls, considering that women are still marginalized in our society.

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