Long Island teenager Gabby Gibbs had the honor Thursday of kicking off the moment more than 120,000 Girl Scouts and their parents across the country had been waiting for: "It's finally here: The Girl Scouts 'Becoming Me' event with Michelle Obama," Gibbs, 14, announced from her home in Westbury before she and her co-host for the virtual event counted down "5, 4, 3, 2, 1 …"
Then, on screen, popped up the former first lady of the United States, ready to kick off a new, nationwide Girl Scout initiative based on her autobiography, reworked for a younger audience and called "Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers."
Six other Girl Scouts from across the country then asked Obama questions for about 45 minutes. They wanted to know who her mentors were ("My first and most important mentor was my mom"), how she finds the courage to stand up for what she believes in ("Courage takes practice") and, of course, which is her favorite Girl Scout Cookie ("Thin Mints … I can eat them by the sleeve-full").
GIRLS SHOULD CHALLENGE THEMSELVES
The live portion of the event began with Gibbs, a freshman at Jericho High School, and her co-host, Girl Scout Ella Hamer of Scottsdale, Ariz., engaging in repartee about their experiences as Scouts and polling the viewing audience on their favorite things about Scouting. Making new friends placed first.
The prelude to Obama was peppered with videos and photos from Girl Scout troops nationwide — including a music video parody of Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" with Scouts singing "All About That Badge" instead.
Then it got serious. Obama, in a segment that had been recorded in advance, urged the girls to listen to the positive feedback they get from mentors and ignore any negative voices inside their heads, to be an A+ person in whatever they choose to do, to keep challenging themselves to do things that are "hard or a little scary" and to show up to serve their communities.
She told them to "learn to be wrong, learn to mess up, and then recover from it" and that "you're not supposed to get through this life mistake free." She reminded the girls that they've only "been on this Earth such a small amount of time" and that their confidence will grow as they do.
THEMES WILL BE CONTINUED
Those themes will be reiterated in the new Girl Scouts of the USA programming, which will be emphasized throughout the rest of the year and include topics such as sharing and owning your story, support systems and mentoring, learning to pivot when things don’t go as planned, and public service, Rande Bynum, chief executive officer for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County.
Girls will earn badges by accomplishing program goals; Thursday evening's event was open only to Girl Scouts and their families and girls had to prepay their 2021-22 annual dues to attend.
Gibbs learned she would be hosting the event after her mother received an email from Girl Scouts of the USA inviting Gabby to take part, and she was so excited for her daughter that she didn’t wait for Gabby to get home to tell her.
"I was hanging out at my friend’s house and my mom called me and said, ‘Don’t tell anyone, but you’re going to be part of an event with Michelle Obama.’ I said, ‘What? Did you read the email right?’" Gibbs said. Gibbs has previously represented Girl Scouts in advertising for a partnership with Grubhub to deliver Girl Scout Cookies to people's homes during the pandemic.
"She’s such an amazing person," Gibbs said of Obama, whom she met virtually prior to Thursday's event. "[S]he is so inspirational. Even talking to her for five minutes, I felt like I could run a marathon. Yes, I will be achieving my dreams, thank you."