Robert Rice: Man enough to be a Girl Scout
When asked why he first started volunteering with Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, Robert Rice pointed to his daughter. Rice’s daughter joined the Mariners program, GSSJC’s sailing special interest group, at age 11. When her interest grew from a hobby to a passion, Rice felt compelled to follow her.
“I figured if she was coming all the time, I needed to do my part to support the effort,” Rice said. “I quickly discovered [that] there’s a great group of adults here, so I stayed involved and kept doing new things.”
Rice went above and beyond in his volunteering role with the Mariners program, graduating from dish duty to sailing instructor and instruction coordinator.
“The quality of what we do in terms of teaching, instructing and testing is really high level,” said Rice. “We do a lot of work on instructor development for the adults and for older girls as well, so older girls can qualify as sailing instructors.”
In addition to teaching sailing courses, Rice spearheaded new experiences for the Mariners, like getting them invited to Sea Star Base Galveston, a historical first for Girl Scouts.
“This was the first time they had a crew that was only girls, and definitely the first time they had a group of Girl Scouts,” said Rice. “I think the staff of Sea Star Base Galveston was universally surprised at the quality of [their] sailing skill. They didn’t have much expectation that these girls actually know what they’re doing.”
Rice worked for six months to get the Mariners invited to Sea Star Base Galveston, championing the girls’ knowledge and “seaworthiness” to participate. This determination to prove that women can do anything shines in all of Rice’s actions, especially his fostering of the relationship between the Mariners and the U.S. Coast Guard.
In addition to his volunteering roles with Girl Scouts, Rice is also a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, a uniformed volunteer component of the Coast Guard. Through his connections, Rice facilitated events for the Mariners such as tours of the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station and helicopter rescue demonstrations at Camp Casa Mare.
“I want the girls to see that there is this whole world of public service opportunities; that the Coast Guard does offer an opportunity for women to do exciting, adventurous, challenging things; that women do have leadership roles in the Coast Guard,” said Rice.
It came as no surprise that when asked for his opinion on the value of Girl Scouting, Rice gushed.
“People are surprised that there are these great adventurous things going on in Girl Scouts,” said Rice. “It’s an opportunity for girls to dare to do challenging, difficult things, and a safe place for things to not go well. The opportunity to try and to fail softly is incredibly important.”
Rice also harped on the importance of other adults, especially dads, to volunteer.
“You only have so much time with your kids at home before they move on,” said Rice. “You have this opportunity to watch her grow and develop in a way that you would not otherwise. It’s a worthwhile investment as an adult – as a family.”
GSSJC provides many volunteering opportunities in unique capacities, and we bet you know a friend or two who might be interested in lending their talents. Encourage them to visit gssjc.org/makeadifference to begin the volunteer process!