Monday, January 30, 2006

January 30, 2006: American Heritage Girls

Something has prompted me this evening to share a little about American Heritage Girls. (Maybe it was the little girl selling Girl Scout cookies today.) Anyway, I wanted to share about our journey into American Heritage Girls and encourage anyone who wants more information about the organization.

Four years ago my daughter was a Daisy Scout (kindergarten) in a Girl Scout troop that met during our support group's enrichment classes. We had a wonderful year with a fantastic woman as the leader. But my friend Caroline and I also had Cub Scouts, and we became increasingly aware of the vast differences between the Boy Scouts (BSA) and Girl Scouts (GSA). At the time, there was a lot of publicity about BSA because the organization had once again taken a stand and wouldn't allow gay leaders. BSA was often shown in a bad light, comparing it to the much more tolerant Girl Scouts. But what was so much more disheartening to us was that Girl Scouts dropped the mandatory oath to "honor God." This became an optional part of the Girl Scout oath in the early 1990s.

All of us in our Daisy Troop began to feel convicted that we needed to search for a different scouting organization. We looked at Keepers of the Home but were not thrilled with the program--and then we "stumbled" upon American Heritage Girls. Wow! It was all right there. The exact program that we had envisioned, but already established! We gathered information and then held an informational meeting to see the interest level. We had about 15 families, representing about 25 girls, at that meeting. Obviously we would forge ahead with this!

I brought the information to my church, and they looked at the material and almost immediately agreed to charter a troop. In August of 2003, we became American Heritage Girls Troop 131, the first in the state of Tennessee. We began our troop with 35 girls. By 2004 we had 65! We are in our third year now, and I cannot even express how happy I am to be a part of this organization.

This is a beautiful thing: to hear 65 girls say, "I promise to love God, cherish my family, honor my country, and serve in my community." To hear a first-grader pray for all these girls and give a devotion on one of the parts of the creed. To hear a parent say, "I love American Heritage Girls! This would be the last thing I would ever drop off our schedule!"

What do we do in meetings? Work on badges, play games, sing. Build relationships. Service is also an integral part of the program. We have done hours and hours of service, from packing care kits for Hurricane Katrina families to writing letters to soldiers to serving meals to Habitat for Humanity Workers. Our girls have read poetry and played games at nursing homes, packed Operation Christmas Child boxes, made cards for Meals on Wheels recipients, planted flowers for our charter organization, and much more. It's so encouraging and exciting to see love in action in these girls.

American Heritage Girls is a great fit for homeschoolers. The badges are a great enrichment to any homeschooling program, but more importantly--girls have a safe place to build relationships and grow into women of integrity. If you are interested in learning more about AHG and how to start a troop, please visit the AHG website or feel free to email me. God is working so mightily in this organization!

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