Ever since I was recruited to be a group leader for the local Girl Scouts’ summer camp a couple years ago, I have been a big fan of the organization and their mission to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.” When the Southern Boone Girl Scouts asked me to be the D.J. for this year’s installment of their bi-annual father-daughter dance held last weekend, I was both honored and flattered. And I knew it would be a great opportunity to have fun with some of my current and former primary school students and their families. Naturally, I said yes.

       Travis Naughton

I love everything about the Girl Scouts (especially Thin Mints). Besides delicious cookies, theirs is an organization known for its diversity and inclusivity, which is readily apparent even in our small, midwestern town of Ashland. I saw young ladies from a variety of ethnic backgrounds all laughing and dancing together at Saturday’s “Bling and Boots” dance. There were girls who were born with physical challenges, girls who had overcome frightening medical emergencies, and girls whose families had been affected by divorce, illness, and other tragedies. Regardless of skin color, physical differences, or emotional scars, every girl there was a cherished member of the Girl Scout family.

Girl Scouting is all about positivity. The theme of the summer camp I attended taught the girls to feel good about themselves and their bodies. In our society, girls are under an enormous amount of pressure to conform to impossible standards of so-called “beauty.” The Scouts teach girls that people come in all shapes and sizes and that true beauty can only be revealed in a person’s character.

True beauty is when a fourth grader requests that the DJ play her little sister’s favorite song so that the two siblings can sing together at a Girl Scout dance.

True beauty is watching a young girl—one who recently overcame a potentially deadly medical scare—smile contentedly as she dances with her adoring father.

True beauty is witnessing a bunch of grown men showing their daughters how to dance to “Y.M.C.A.” True beauty is seeing those same men demonstrate how to treat women (and young girls) with respect.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the fathers, stepfathers, and grandfathers whom I met Saturday night. With story after heartbreaking story being reported daily in the media of men mistreating women in this country and around the world, it is more important than ever that girls have positive male role models in their lives.

The men who shared the dance floor with those impressionable youngsters treated their “dates” as gentlemen should. After the couples arrived at the venue, often arm in arm, the men took their dates’ coats and hung them up. Several girls wore corsages on their wrists. The men helped their daughters fill their dinner plates. They posed for photos with them. They refilled their lemonades. And of course, they danced, too.

As the saying goes; “Behind every great man stands an even greater woman.” There were several great women on hand at the dance who helped organize the event. These women promoted the dance, secured the location, decorated the room, set up a photo booth, arranged for catering, provided DJ equipment and a song list, and did countless other things that ensured a fun and memorable evening for everyone on hand. The fathers and daughters were honored guests, and they were treated as such, but as is often the case, the moms who labored behind the scenes were the real VIPs.

The Southern Boone Girl Scouts’ Father-Daughter dance is the perfect example of why I choose to live in Ashland, Missouri. Ashland and the Girl Scouts are both defined by the same core values: Community. Family. Inclusivity. Positivity. Respect. Love.

What else could anyone ask for (besides prompt delivery of the eight boxes of Thin Mints I ordered this year)?