Every holiday season, I find it important to reflect on my life and take a moment to appreciate and be grateful for all the people surrounding me—especially in my Girl Scouts community. Throughout my life, I’ve learned that people come and go; some for brief moments in time, and others stay with you for decades. Some teach you lessons, some come and go without even a memory, but occasionally, some who are incredible leaders leave a lasting impact on your life.
I am often asked, “Why Girl Scouts?” My answer has always been a good one–one I believe in. To that question, I say, “because of like-minded women who want to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who are the future leaders of tomorrow.” However, it wasn’t until I recently reunited with my Girl Scout troop leader from 35 years ago, Carrie Jager, that I realized how true that statement really is.
Carrie is someone who has continued to teach me these life skills well into my adulthood. As I examine both of our lives, the parallels are clear. I observed her as a mother to her three daughters and now I am a mother of my own four daughters. I recognized her as she celebrates her 45th anniversary with her husband and I just celebrated my 16th with my husband. I revered her as she has devoted her life to the education system and helping young minds and today, I work to develop programs and find funding for young minds through Girl Scouts.
This past week we celebrated her 69th birthday, but to me, it was not about a birthday nor was it about a friendship—this celebration was about a woman who has loved so fiercely her entire life. It was about a woman who has dedicated her life to building a family and a network of friends who would lay down their lives for her. However, most importantly, it was about courage, it was about confidence, and it was about character.
You see, almost ten years ago, Carrie was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of cancer. Since then, I have watched her battle multiple times as this beast keeps coming back. Despite cancer’s persistence, Carrie’s courage and confidence in herself will not stop fighting and her character is what ensures her battle is met with a smile on her face and laughter in the air.
I watched her at the birthday party, as everyone sat beside her giving well wishes and telling old stories, seeing people we hadn’t seen in years. At that moment, I realized this woman has taught me more than any patch or badge could ever teach me; she taught me love. The love a wife has for her husband, the love a mother has for her daughters, the love that builds lifelong friendships and meaningful relationships, and most importantly, a love for life.
People come and go throughout your entire life, but Girl Scouts is more than just outdoors and life skills. Girl Scouts is about having women to look up to, women who encourage you to be greater than you could ever imagine, and women who want to leave a lasting impact on this world.
You–my dear friend, mentor, and warrior—you, Carrie Jager, have done just that.