Jesse Ventura (no, not the former wrestler and former Minnesota’s governor) has a few vocabulary words he thinks fellow dad’s would like: Daisy, badges and Thin Mints. That’s right, Ventura is a proud Girl Scout dad.
“And I was a Girl Scout brother and son even before that,” says Ventura, whose sisters took part in the girl leadership program fo several years with their mom, who served as their Girl scout Troop Leader.
Fast-forward several decades to today, Ventura is still blown away daily by the female empowerment organization.
“My daughter, Jacqueline, first started with Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council in 2015. She started as a Girl Scout Daisy, and is today a Cadette,” says Ventura. “My daughter, Jordan, also started Girl Scouting as soon as she was old enough.”
Being a “troop dad” has opened Ventura’s eyes to even more about Girl Scouts than when he was a child. His time as a part of Troop 1688 proves that Girl Scouts is not just for moms but also a valuable experience for dads.
“It’s a game-changer. Girl Scouts is usually only associated with girls and women, but being a dad and supporting your daughter’s experience is rewarding. For me, one of the best parts would be the compliments I get for supporting my daughters in Girl Scouts. Hearing people tell my daughters how proud they are to see their father supporting them is one of the best feelings,” says Ventura.
Ventura’s history with the organization was not the only factor supporting his daughters becoming a part of Girl Scouts. The father of two also wanted to relay a message of confidence and independence to his daughters, a message that Girl Scouts has instilled in several million girls since its inception.
“For 109 years, Girl Scouts has provided a safe space for girls to practice leadership skills, problem-solve, take risks, identify and solve problems in their communities, share their voice for causes they’re passionate about, and pursue their biggest dreams,” says Ventura.
According to Ventura, the environment created by Girl Scouts encourages girls to show up as their true selves, allowing girls to thrive. And with the support of caring adult leaders, volunteers, mentors, and family, girls develop a strong sense of self where they feel limitless and more confident to take on challenges.
While Girl Scouts is most commonly associated with their cookie program, learning money management skills, business ethics, and people skills, the organization’s other exciting programs provide girls the opportunity to take the lead while learning and participating in a wide range of activities, including camping and outdoor skills, coding, robotics, and much more.
Ventura has seen how Girl Scouts goes far beyond just sashes, badges, and delicious cookies through the actions of his daughters.
“Since becoming a Girl Scout, I have seen them be more confident, outspoken, and self-aware of their surroundings. They are learning the value of friendship, caring about the community, and being independent,” says Ventura.
With over 750,000 adults taking part in Girl Scouts, the experience is rewarding not only for daughters but the parents as well. Going beyond just taking part in troop meetings, Girl Scout moms and dads also become cookie managers, event organizers, and overall leaders.
“Honestly, I thought it was just about going to meetings and doing activities. I did not even think about all the events and the work that goes into making Girl Scouts what it is. This whole experience for me as a father to two Girl Scouts is more than I ever expected,” says Ventura.
The numerous Girl Scout programs offered by the organization are innovative and can provide fresh experiences for both parents and daughters alike. New badges centered around STEM, outdoor activity, and entrepreneurship teach new concepts to people of all ages across the organization. The program educates while making memories and bringing the troop closer together.
“I would say camping with my daughters for the first time has been my favorite memory in Girl Scouts so far. I’ve never been much of a camper, but that experience was a special moment that they wanted to do with me,” says Ventura.
After six years of being a Girl Scout dad, the fun is not over yet! Jesse is looking forward to the future and all the memorable experiences, life-long lessons, and valuable skills that Girl Scouts has to offer for his daughters.
“I look forward to them being more assertive in decisions they make, learning life skills, continuing to help the community such as donating resources for homeless shelters, and building lasting friendships,” says Ventura.
Though many dads may think they cannot become leaders in their daughter’s Girl Scout communities, their leadership can create a bonding experience and bring them closer to their daughter’s than ever before.
If Jesse Ventura could describe his time with his daughters in Girl Scouts in one word: Memorable.
Written by: Justin Liggin, Arizona State University Journalism graduate, and intern at HMA Public Relations.