“My [Girl] Scouts are fantastic—they are strong, independent, compassionate young ladies. They are my favorite thing about scouting,” says volunteer Julie Smialowski.
For nine years, Julie was a Girl Scout in North East Ohio—she was even part of the first year of Daisy Girl Scouts in 1984! Her fond memories mixed with her desire for her daughter to share the Girl Scout experience are what led her to volunteer. She’s been a troop leader since 2013 and an events coordinator for her service unit since 2018.
As a volunteer, Julie has loved watching her girls grow from ages 5 to 14—and still going! She has especially enjoyed camping with them, taking trips, doing community outreach, and working on projects, especially their Bronze Award.
If the girls have learned anything from her, Julie hopes it’s that humans can impact the environment, both positively and negatively, and we need to be conscious of how we interact with wildlife and nature. Julie not only teaches Girl Scouts, she also teaches a classroom of kids. She is a social studies teacher and works for an online education company.
Julie’s advice for new volunteers is to avoid repeating activities girls don’t like just to check a box. “Read the room!” she says. For her personally, the biggest challenge she has faced as a volunteer is getting caught up in details and forgetting to ask for help. Despite challenges, Julie values the friendships she’s made and the relationships she’s built through Girl Scouts.
“My co-leader has become a dear friend outside of scouting and I’ve made meaningful connections and friendships with fellow leaders and my service unit manager,” she says. “They are a much-needed support system!”