GREENFIELD, Mass. (AP) - As a young girl, Molly Robinson was not a Girl Scout - but she’s more than made up for that as an adult, with a lifetime of leading Girl Scouts.
This is Robinson’s 55th year as a Girl Scout leader, and she still projects a vitality and sense of leadership that is not diminished by her use of a walker or wheelchair.
Although Robinson, 77, is a mother of four and a grandmother of seven, she has been a “second mother” to at least another 130 girls - and even to the daughters or those girls - during her later years of scout-leading.
Robinson was a junior at Pomona College in Claremont, California, when she saw an ad for a Girl Scout assistant leader. “I was looking for a volunteer activity, and a Girl Scout troop was advertising for an assistant leader,” said Robinson. “I applied. I got hooked. I was in California at the time,” she said. “There was a wonderful woman who was my mentor for several years, and I took over her troop.”
Robinson’s first Girl Scout troop was in California, and she remembers taking them on a trip to a Girl Scout facility called “Our Cabana,” in Mexico. “I didn’t speak any Spanish, but I’d heard you should always bargain the price of everything,” she said. And so, in sketchy Spanish, she accidentally bargained with a taxi driver to raise -not lower - his fare. She laughs, as she remembers his puzzled expression and his ready agreement to accept her bargained-for price.
Robinson taught statistics at Smith College for 31 years before retiring. She is also the author of a fictionalized memoir, “Rachel’s War,” about growing up during World War II. It was published by Xlibris in 2007.
Today, Todd is the interim head of school for the Academy at Charlemont, from which she graduated in 1993. As a Girl Scout, Todd earned The Gold Award, which is the equivalent honor for Girl Scouts that an Eagle Scout award is for Boy Scouts.
Like a proud mother, Robinson has a few scouting scrapbooks that include newspaper clippings and photographs of her troop trips and the special achievements of her Scouts throughout the years. An announcement of Todd’s award is there, so is an essay called “What can I do for My Country,” by Cassie Nylan Gray, which was published in a national magazine. There are photographs for simple camping trips and the more exotic trips in which Robinson took her troop to the Grand Canyon, to St. John’s in the Caribbean. And mostly, there are tons of children’s drawings. Another of Robinson’s former scouts, Lisa Blackmer, is currently city council president in North Adams.
“I was in (Robinson‘s) Girl Scout Troop from the third grade until the 12th grade,” Todd said. “The summer before my senior year in high school, we took a train from Massachusetts to Montana. We rented a van and went to the Glacier National Park, the Teton and to Yellowstone (National Parks). It was a small but wonderful trip,” she recalled. “The summer after eighth grade, we went to St. John’s Island in the Caribbean, with the whole troop.”
“One of the things (Robinson) was able to do was to keep a really large group of girls together all those years,” said Todd. “A lot of girls leave Girl Scouting in the 6th- and 7th grades, but she was able to keep us together through high school. We went to three to four different schools, but we still had that connection.”
“She had an amazing influence,” said Todd. “For me, specifically, she gave me two things: the confidence to lead and an appreciation of the importance of leadership. She really made me feel confident as a female and as a female leader.”
“Another thing she did was teach the importance of community, to understand the importance of our town and of our place in it. Also, the importance of friendship: She helped us nurture not only our friendship with her, but our friendships with others.”
“When I was getting ready to graduate from high school, Mrs. Robinson was really helpful in getting me an internship in Washington, D.C. I owe that experience to her - it got me into Washington, D.C.”
Todd became an intern to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. She went on to serve in the Peace Corps., and spent several years afterward doing international development work in Eastern Europe and Africa. Todd also works as a consultant for Deloitte Management Consulting.