giving back

Girl Scouts: Do a Good Turn Daily

giving backbettering communities

The 1920 Girl Scout handbook suggests that girls “Do a good turn daily.”

I’ve spent the past few years researching and writing about Juliette Gordon Low, aka Daisy, the founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA for my book, while leading a third-grade troop. I have been awed by how relevant Daisy’s advice is for us, even 100 years after she founded the group in 1912.

Girls from different generations have embraced these teachings of leadership, sisterhood and service. These timeless lessons, including being outdoors, loving animals and other living things, and simply having fun, make sense for us, especially in our high-tech society. We’re over-connected in some ways, yet disconnected in others.

As a young girl, Daisy found she had an innate desire to give to others, and as a teenager, she set up a club that would sew and give clothes to needy neighbors, called “The Helpful Hands.” Unfortunately, Daisy was not a particularly skilled sewer, and as those clothes fell off the children, her club became known as the “Helpless Hands.” She laughed at the failure but rose up to not only continue to help those children, but to instill a sense of giving into an entire organization when she launched the Girl Scouts.

This summer, as you’re planning what to do with your children, think about “doing a good turn.” It doesn’t have to be daily, or be a big service project. Walk around your community to see what needs to be done. Maybe an elderly neighbor could use some gardening help. Or you could bring supplies to a food pantry, volunteer at the Humane Society, bring chicken soup to a sick friend or send letters to military overseas.

Talk to your kids about why we try to do good things for other people, and how it makes your child feel to do them. Tell them how you feel—thankful, proud, inspired—when you help others. Once kids have that feeling, they are more likely to want to recreate it and share it with others.

How to you teach your children to be charitable and service-oriented?

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.

Shannon Henry Kleiber is the author of the new book “On My Honor: Real Life Lessons From America’s First Girl Scout.” She is a former Washington Post staff writer, and is an editorial board member for Edible Madison magazine. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and two daughters, and is a Girl Scout troop leader for her older daughter’s troop. You can find out more about Shannon at

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