Start ‘em Young!

By: Elizabeth Akre

My seven–year-old is in Brownies.  So, guess who is the Brownie leader this year? Yep, me. I was never a Girl Scout as a kid, but I’m finding out that I really missed a lot. It’s been fun so far leading the girls on a “Wonders of Water” journey, taking them to an overnight trip at the zoo, selling cookies, and organizing a Father-Daughter Valentine Dance. We have a camping trip planned for the spring and a Congaree Swamp hike in the works.

I have also learned that there are Girl Scout events and themed events everywhere! This Thursday, we’re going to an “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” event sponsored by engineering students at USC.

VivThis past Saturday, my daughter and a few other of my Brownies attended a cooking and healthy living workshop, also at USC. The event took place in a building I didn’t even know existed: Discovery I. We walked into a huge, impressive teaching kitchen that had stations with gas and smooth top ranges, wall ovens, a handicapped range and workspace, mirrors to show what the instructors were doing… just everything. I left the kids in the capable hands of the grad students and my co-leader hung.  When I returned, I was so pleased with what I found.  The plan was that the girls would work in teams to create four dishes, have some instructional time about health and lifestyle, and would then eat the lunch they had prepared. As I arrived, the girls were still in their yoga class. The grad students were finishing up the remainders of the dishes as the girls returned to the kitchen. Then they all sat down to enjoy their menu: spinach & cheese crepes, veggie egg cups, oat-blueberry muffins and vegan black bean brownies.

As they ate, they went around the room so the teams could describe the dish they worked on and how they did it. My child raised her hand like a shot and presented her station’s work on the crepes. In fact, my co-leader tells me that Viv is quite a talented crepe twirler.

The veggie egg cups were loaded with vegetables (spinach, zucchini and green onions), and the girls really enjoyed them. Of course, the muffins were popular. The Vegan brownies…not so much. I tasted them; they were really dry and all the kids complained about how bitter they were. But, the fact is, they were all excited about having prepared the dishes and they all tried each dish.

The Girl Scouts are all about “girl-led” activities, so my daughter is all pumped up about a skill that her dad and I have totally shielded her from…using knives. As you can probably imagine, since the workshop I’ve heard numerous times about how she can use knives now. Really sharp ones. Well, I guess she can. She did. But, I’m still not sure that Neil and I are ready to turn her loose with our cutlery!

It was really inspiring to see a room full of young girls so excited about cooking. It was fun to hear their critiques, explaining which dish was their favorite and why, and to see all the excitement about using knives, food processors and ovens “all by themselves.”  I now know that there is so much more to Girl Scouts than cute uniforms and selling cookies. I’m really enjoying being a part of it and helping to lead the girls through so many exciting and diverse activities. If you have a daughter, consider Girl Scouts.  They can start as young as 5, as Daisy Scouts.

Elizabeth Akre writes Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef).  

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