When Girl Scouts of the USA was founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912, women had very limited career opportunities and they still couldn’t vote.
A couple of generations later, when Sharon McNally joined the ranks of the growing youth program in Somers Point, New Jersey, women were becoming a much stronger force in society. And by the end of the 20th century, Sharon McNally-Mobley’s daughters became Girl Scouts at a time when women were serving on the Supreme Court and flying in space.
And now that McNally-Mobley is the mother of three young women, she can vouch for the program’s growth since her days as a Brownie Girl Scout in New Jersey.
“With my older sister, also a Brownie, we walked to our troop leader’s home for weekly meetings,” she says. “Highlights from those early years were making things – and summer camp, where I learned swimming, canoeing, and camp songs.”
McNally moved up the ranks to Junior Girl Scouts, which was grades 4-6, in Long Island, New York. She helped her mother run her sister’s troop in the family’s den, and her best memories include cooking campfire stew, learning songs, making s’mores, earning badges and selling Girl Scout Cookies for 35 cents a box. “I was so happy when the price of cookies went up to 50 cents a box,” says McNally-Mobley. “So much easier to count out change!”
She completed Cadette Girl Scouts, which was grades 7-9, in Canoga Park, California. “Camping was my favorite, working in patrols … earning badges, and performing camp skits,” she says.
In 1997, Sharon McNally-Mobley was living in Canyon Country, the mother to three daughters, Bailey, Bree and Bo. She was inspired to return to Girl Scouts by “fun camp counselors and creative leaders,” and she says it was her “Green Knight” (husband Phil Mobley) who made it easy for her to get involved in Girl Scouting. She left a position as art director for the Disney Channel Magazine after the birth of her second child and brought creativity to her volunteerism, which included Girl Scouting.
She spent 18 years as a Girl Scout leader in Santa Clarita, being trained by Joshua Tree Council in Bakersfield, Lancaster,
Santa Clarita and her last year with Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. When Girl Scouts of the USA turned 100 in 2012, she brought her troop of 12th grade Ambassadors to ‘Girltopia,’ an event drawing thousands of Girl Scouts to the LA Convention Center for activities promoting leadership, STEM, outdoor adventure, healthy living and more.
Bailey: Troop 506/278 from 1994-2006
After volunteering as “cookie mom” for three years, Sharon McNally-Mobley became one of the leaders in Canyon Country. “The troop would plan out their money-earning goals, besides selling cookies, calendars, magazines and then nuts,” Sharon explains. The girls also: completed community service projects, ran badge workshops for younger girls, sang at convalescent hospitals, worked in patrols, held ceremonies, worked on Rose Parade floats, camped, kayaked, surfed and snorkeled, and visited the capitol in Sacramento. Three of the girls earned their Silver Award, which is the highest award a Cadette Girl Scout can earn. It’s the prerequisite to become a Gold Award Girl Scout, the highest honor in Girl Scouting.
(Point of fact: Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles produces the highest number of Gold Award Girl Scouts in the nation every year.)
Bree: Troop 412/416 from 1996-2008
Sharon McNally-Mobley was a back-up leader when needed, learning from Bree’s Daisy and Brownie leader Linda Hamilton, as welll as junior and senior leaders Debbie Hall and Connie Scheffler. “And I borrowed many of their ideas!” Sharon says. “They flew to San Francisco to bridge with thousands of sister Girl Scouts, a bridging event that’s still going on today. The troop also camped, kayaked and snorkeled on Catalina Island. All of the girls completed their Silver Award by planning and running a Fairytale Fun Camporee on the beach – my younger daughter’s troop was there to participate.”
Bo: Troop 106 from 1999-2012
Sharon McNally-Mobley started and finished as the troop’s leader with a partner, Noel Ruffner. “This troop was so much fun – everything I learned from others was put to use,” Sharon says. “Bronze & Silver Awards were earned by all of the Girl Scouts in this troop, and five of the girls became Gold Award Girl Scouts. Each Gold Award Girl Scout spends one to two years on a sustainable and measurable project addressing a community need.”
Activities included flying to San Francisco, Rose Parade float decorating, surf camp in San Diego, winter camp in Big Bear and Wrightwood, Color Guard for City Hall, and a unique experience: visiting the first baby girl in need who was born on the birthday of Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low. Some of the Gold Award girls went on GSGLA Destinations – a Girl Scout travel program. Two went to Europe, including Bo Mobley.
Changes in Scouting
“Girl Scouts has always been changing for the better,” McNally-Mobley says. “The entire experience builds year upon year, kindergarten through 12th grade. There is so much opportunity for girls in all levels of our program. Our council offers experiences and programs in STEM, entrepreneurship, outdoors, and life skills. We have high-adventure camping and robotics and rocketry teams – there’s even a club for Girl Scouts who love media and communications!”
You can see the programs by visiting girlscoutsla.org and girlscouts.org.
Sharon McNally-Mobley is the retail manager of Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles for both the Palmdale & Santa Clarita Shops. There are seven centers within GSGLA, plus headquarters in Downtown L.A. There are teams at all locations to help with starting a troop, getting your daughter in a troop, volunteering, training, uniforms, badges, books, and support. For more information on joining GSGLA as a Girl Scout, as a volunteer or supporter, you may call 213-213-0123.
Bo, college student
Our troop was adventurous because our leaders were creative opportunists. With the encouragement of my mom, I was able to gather the funds and momentum to travel to Europe with Girl Scouts. My mom pushed us to do things we never thought we were capable of, and for that, I am forever grateful.
My mom’s creativity and optimism brought out the best in us. Many of us were inspired to travel across the country, become Gold Award Girl Scouts, and give back to our communities with hundreds of hours of service. My mom helped bring out the laughter, playfulness, and tenaciousness in all of us. And for that, I am very grateful!
Bree, RPI grad/civil engineer
My mom was heavily involved in my Girl Scout experience as a parent helper, although not my troop leader. She helped organize and inspire countless activities, crafts, workshops, and a lot of fun. She was always able to solve a last-minute problem or a seemingly impossible task by simply just asking. She had this ability to bring people together, to build a community around us – it was amazing, and solidified how valuable working together could be.
I remember my mom helped me paint a life-sized character cut-out backdrop for a weekend camporee my troop was planning. She taught me how to cut the image into squares and to translate each smaller square from the image onto corresponding larger squares on the wooden board. We worked all night in the garage putting it together. It was the coolest thing at the camporee by far! My mom put in so much care into each project she worked on, she really wanted it to be great.
Bailey, UCSD grad/social media mgr
My path to womanhood would have been colorless if it was not for being a Girl Scout. Girl Scouts is an organization, but it’s the leaders who create the #girlpower movement. Many don’t know that the foundation and fundamentals of the program is painted by those who lead.
The backbone of every troop is a fearless, dedicated and selfless leader. My mom volunteered countless hours inspiring, influencing and empowering young females within our community – many of whom I consider lifelong friends – to challenge themselves and strive to be the best version of themselves.
I am my mother’s daughter and will always remember to leave any place cleaner than I found it.