Sharlene Braskie has given a lifetime to the growth of girls
VERNON, VT – The first of three generations of Girl Scouts, Sharlene Braskie has lived as she believes, guiding girls for decades to become young women of courage, character, and confidence who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council serving girls across Vermont and New Hampshire, has named Braskie its Volunteer of the Month for November.
Braskie, 68, of Vernon, said, “I do think we not only grow girls, we grow women.” If a girl continues in the program, from Daisy on up, you’ll see growth, she said. “It doesn’t matter who the child is. Given the opportunity, the program is set up to grow leaders. I’ve never seen another program like that.”
With decades of Girl Scout leadership under her belt, as well as 11 years working for the Brattleboro Center for Children as a teacher and assistant director, Braskie has witnessed how children grow and develop. She’s led Girl Scout troops and trained others in outdoor skills, and worked hard to keep Girl Scouting alive in the Brattleboro area. Braskie is currently a Volunteer Support Coordinator for the council.
“Sharlene always looks to the positive and how we can overcome a challenge as a group,” said Angela Watson, one of her co-leaders. “She gets the girls thinking about what their options are. Over the years we have had many different girls, with different backgrounds, different abilities and things going on at home. Our troop meetings have always been a safe and caring place, and Sharlene has always been a part of that. We celebrate our differences and help each other. Sharlene is an amazing resource and is always volunteering her time to train new leaders on things we need as a troop so that we can do the activities that the girls want to do.”
Braskie also instilled Girl Scout values in her children and now grandchildren. One of her daughters is a Girl Scout troop leader, and she now has a granddaughter who began as a Daisy and is now a Cadette.
“My mom has been involved in Girl Scouts for more than I have been alive,” said Hannah Gantt. “She was my leader and through the years we have co-led now, too. She actually pinned me when I became a leader! A very special moment for us.
“My mom is the kind of leader who, for as far back as I can remember, always picked up and dropped off girls so there was never a reason someone could not participate,” Gantt said. “My mom also bought cookies from every girl who asked her to. (Sometimes there were a lot of cookies in our house!) Even after myself and my sisters became adults, my mom continued to be a leader so her granddaughters could be a Girl Scout and so every girl could have a chance to learn the values of Girl Scouting. She thinks it's important for girls to learn to be independent while also being able to be interdependent. My mom believes every girl should have support in reaching their goals and understands that is not always found in the home, but Girl Scouts can provide that.”
Braskie said those who aspire to be Girl Scout leaders should be flexible and willing to work with a variety of ages.
“Most of our troops here are multilevel,” she said, and that Girl Scout troops can provide the kind of support system that can be missing in neighborhoods today. “One of the last troops I did was a Cadette-Senior-Ambassador group. One young lady was very capable, very flexible. She looked at me one day and said, ‘I have to tell you, this is the only place I feel safe because I can be myself.’ Such a super kid.”
She stresses the importance of girls making their own decisions and even being allowed to fail, fostering independence but also cooperation. “Be a leader, speak up for yourself. It’s an opportunity to fail – that’s how you learn.”
Her Girl Scouts would run their meetings Town Meeting style, where everyone has the chance to talk, but one little girl with disabilities was shy. “So she didn’t really talk a lot in a group setting. But what was wonderful was the other girls always made sure her voice was heard. They were good at making sure everybody was heard. To see this girl light up! To be included was very important.”
Braskie is a big believer in getting girls outdoors, where girls gain an intrinsic sense of success. “We learn so much by having to work outside,” she said. “It’s not nearly as easy. There’s nothing so great as seeing a girl light her first fire! Doing knife skills – (one) child had never even held a butter knife! To see them be successful in skills – knot-tying, cooking. Everything is there. Nobody has to pat you on the back.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced change on the usual Girl Scout activities, but Braskie said Girl Scouts in her area are beginning to adjust. “I think council has lots of programs, has stepped up and provided lots of opportunities for girls to do things online,” she said. “It’s a new era. We’re a place where you can learn new things – we’re working on the Zoom thing!”
Braskie is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts, and has had a major impact on Girl Scouts in Vermont. She sets the example for both girls and adult volunteers of what it means to be a G.I.R.L. – a Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, and Leader. Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is proud to name her Volunteer of the Month for November.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.