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Volunteer Spotlight: Rachel Van


Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state in honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month. Rachel Van of Alamosa in the Pueblo & Southeastern CO region started out as a troop co-leader, but quickly took on more volunteer roles. She is also a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.

GSCO asked Rachel to answer a few quick questions about her volunteer experience. We hope you find her as inspiring as we did.

Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?

I became a Girl Scout volunteer when my oldest daughter, Amelia, was in first grade in 2011-12. The previous school year she had joined a Girl Scout troop at the end of cookie season and that troop was in need of another volunteer to help lead the Daisies as the troop grew to over 40 girls in both Brownies and Daisies. I had been a Brownie for a couple of years as a child and had such fond memories of that time so I wanted to make sure that my three daughters had the opportunity to experience Girl Scouts as well and that is why I chose to volunteer.

Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.

I started as a troop co-Leader in Monte Vista in 2011 and was a troop cookie manager for the first time in 2012. I have continued in these roles since then. Since we live in a small rural area that is some distance from the bigger cities and we have fewer volunteers, I am currently in the roles of troop leader and TCM, volunteer trainer, cookie cupboard manager, and service unit manager/SUCM and I love getting to volunteer in so many different ways with such a great organization and getting to work with our wonderful troop of 16 girls in grades kindergarten through 7th grade. I also enjoy getting to work with the other volunteers and troops in the San Luis Valley when we have service unit events.

What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?

As a volunteer, I have learned many things over the years. First and foremost, I have learned how to be a better leader in all aspects of my life. As I have taken my troop on their journey to be the future leaders of our country and even the world, I have learned to be more patient and kind as well as a good example for them. I have also increased my ability to handle things on the fly and go with the flow. As many other Girl Scout volunteers can probably attest, we really have to be able to roll with the punches because you never know what might come your way at a troop meeting. The best instance of this for me was one particular troop meeting we had where we were trying to make silly putty and something went wrong with the mixture and we ended up with slime instead. It was a great example to the girls to make the best of a bad situation and find another use for what you have instead of just throwing it out and starting over. They still had a blast and I honestly think they enjoyed the slime more since it was a mistake. We all had a great laugh that night.

What do you hope girls have learned from you?

I hope the girls I have worked with have learned to be confident in themselves and to take on any challenges that the world might throw at them. I also hope that the Girl Scout Promise and Law stick with them as they grow and they keep them as solid tenants in their life. The world would be a much better place if everyone knew and followed the Girl Scout Law!

How has your experience as a volunteer helped you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

 I would say that my experience as a volunteer has helped me become a G.I.R.L. in too many ways for me to name them all. Seven years ago, I never would have imagined that I would be this involved in Girl Scouts, but here I am and I love it! Working with my troop and the other wonderful volunteers in the San Luis Valley as well as the staff in the council offices I have learned so much. I have developed friendships and connections in my community that I never would have had without Girl Scout in my life and I am so grateful for the opportunities it has created for me. I have had the confidence to take on risks and believe in myself within my own career so that I can develop professionally as well. I don’t know that I would have taken the same risks or believed in myself without all the great things I have learned from being involved in Girl Scouts.

Want to nominate a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Colorado to spotlight? Please email Public Relations Director AnneMarie Harper at annemarie.harper@gscolorado.org.

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