Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Saying Goodbye to a Decade of Little Girls

April, May, and June came and went in a blur, leaving me practically gasping for air. We finished all kinds of things, did all kinds of things, went to France, finished another year of homeschooling—but really, perhaps the biggest event for me was "retiring" from my position as coordinator of our American Heritage Girls troop.

Caroline and I at our final awards ceremony. We got lots of sweet gifts—and a standing ovation that will forever ring in my ears.

For 10 years—ten years!—Caroline and I have been the coordinators of this troop that we founded in 2003. In many ways, we've grown up together. Eleven years ago I had really just met Caroline. We each had a girl sandwiched between two boys, each around the same age. Our husbands were both biology professors, and we hit it off right away. Little did we know 11 years ago just how intertwined our lives would be over the next decade.

Our husbands saying really, really nice things about us at the final awards ceremony. They have been our biggest fans and the support system that made all the difference in the world. We could never have done this without them.

In that decade, our preschool boys have grown to teenagers (or nearly so), our little blonde-headed daughters have grown into beautiful young women, and our older boys are college students. In that decade, Caroline and I have watched our parents grow old. We've experienced heartbreak, lost loved ones, battled exhaustion.

Our boys were preschoolers when we started this journey…10 years later we're sending them on a white-water rafting trip as just a little thank-you for all the Thursdays they were surrounded by dozens and dozens of little girls.

I think about all the hours we've spent together, planning year after year for our troop. For the first eight years, Caroline and I planned out all the badges—and I mean, every step of every badge—for all the different levels (K-12th) in our troop. We'd sit at my house or her house or in one of our vans with spiral notebooks and our AHG handbooks, charting our path for a whole year. We'd go through lists, think about who would make a  good leader, ponder activities and events. We have spent thousands of hours together in the past decade.

Every other Thursday for the past 10 years, Caroline and I have arrived at least an hour—sometimes two or three hours—early for each meeting, and we've always stayed an hour or more afterwards to clean up. And that means that the vast majority of those years, our kids were with us, too. Most of the time we were so tired after meetings that all we could do was eat our crockpot meal and utter  monosyllabic answers to our families. For the past many years, Caroline has gone to teach ESL after meetings. I have no idea how she does that.

We presented our daughters with gift baskets to thank them, just a little, for sticking with us all these years.

In the past 10 years, we've filled out enough paperwork to fill a dozen recycling dumpsters. We've made a hundred phone calls to national office and sent out hundreds and hundreds of emails to our members. We've made lists and more lists, and we've lost lists and more lists.

In these 10 years, we've patted sweet little heads and received more sweet hugs than anyone could possibly wish for in a lifetime. We've heard little voices say "Teacher! Teacher!" and received precious Valentines proclaiming "We love you!" We've experienced a little heartbreak now and then, but mostly we've watched little girls grow into bigger girls and then emerge as strong, lovely leaders.

I set off on this journey with my partner, Caroline, to create something for our daughters that would help them grow into women of integrity. What I never thought about, never considered a decade ago is how I would grow. How I would grow in confidence. How I would grow friendships that will last a lifetime. How I would face challenges and rise to meet them, how together with Caroline I would figure out ways to get around obstacles and find solutions.  How we would draw on our creativity and intuition over and over and over again.

How I would grow into a woman of integrity.

It has been a journey of indescribable proportions.

It's July now. We've finished our last camp. We've breathed. In two weeks, we will have one final meeting with our replacements, three women whom we feel completely confident in, who will love these girls like we have loved them. We'll pass on paperwork to them, give them a few more bits of advice and tads of insight, and let them soar.

Passing the torch to our new coordinators. Their signs read "Don't talk to me. It's AHG Thursday"—a familiar refrain in our homes for the past decade!

One post seems inadequate to sum up a decade of being surrounded by girls in red, white, and blue, of watching girls who were once unpleasant to be around grow into young women with happy smiles, of feeling proud to see shy girls grow into confident leaders. Only now can I bask in a sense of accomplishment, a certainty of a "well done" moment.

These 200 girls that have passed our troop's way—I hope every single of them has good memories of their time in AHG. I hope they know that they were loved and valued and that the world is a better place because, even if they goof up in their lives, they can always strive to be women who are compassionate, helpful, honest, loyal, perseverant, pure, resourceful, respectful, responsible, and reverent.


  1. Sarah and Caroline,
    You have blessed the girls in your Troop with the gift of yourselves. I believe you have impacted them eternally - what a privilege. You have run the race and have reached the goal. Great job, good and faithful servants!

    Thank you, thank you and thank you for articulating how all of us feel when we meet the face of Christ during our AHG service.

    Hugs, love and Congratulations!

    Patti Garibay

  2. Thanks for making me cry. Again.
    But really, thanks for your years of service to these girls and for giving us moms a place of leadership while watching our girls grow in integrity! Love you both!

  3. Well said my dear friend.

  4. What a wonderful endeavor that you should be proud of. It must be so hard to walk away. I co-direct a fine arts cooperative with a close friend and know some of what you speak. I love spending time with the kids/teens in our cooperative and look forward to every Tuesday during the school year. Now you get to take a big rest and see what is next on the horizon for you.


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