Sunday, May 22, 2016

Girl Scouts Celebrate Military Volunteers: Mariah Rule

Mariah Rule and her daughter Amelon at Troop 45's
coding event.
Each year, Americans recognize May as National Military Appreciation Month to focus attention on the individuals who serve in the armed forces and their achievements. Many members of the military serve their communities in more ways than one—including as volunteers for nonprofit organizations. One of these volunteers is Commander Mariah Rule, who is the Naval Integrated Fires Wargame lead at U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, and a Girl Scout leader for a group of Brownies at Saint Patrick Catholic School.

Commander Rule got her start in Girl Scouts at a young age. She has fond memories of outdoor adventures at Camp Skimino in Williamsburg—learning about the outdoors, singing around the campfire and learning the value of teamwork as she and her troop members relied on one another to set up camp and cook meals. At camp, she found encouragement, independence and empowerment.

“I remember going to a volunteer, Barbara Mettler, while working on a badge,” Commander Rule recalled. “I thought I was pretty terrible at identifying mushrooms and types of trees. I wanted her to just guide me through the badge, but she gave me two books and sent me into the woods. I remember feeling very proud when I completed the badge, and I’ll never forget her smiling face when I finished.”

Years later, working as a bureau chief at a small ABC affiliate news station in a Marine Corps town, Commander Rule had a nagging feeling that she wasn’t making the impact on the world that she wanted to. Reflecting on the values that she learned as a Girl Scout and impressed by the women and men she saw in uniform, Commander Rule had a wakeup call of sorts and drove to the recruiting office. Two months later, she was in Officer Candidate School in Pensacola. Courage, confidence, making the world a better place—these are the Girl Scout values that helped shape Commander Rule and guide her to making a difference as a member of the armed forces.

In 2008, Commander Rule had a daughter, Amelon. She knew that when Amelon was old enough, she wanted her to have the same great experiences in Girl Scouts that she had had. Last year, when Commander Rule learned about a newly formed troop at Saint Patrick Catholic School, where Amelon is a student, everything came together. Although she didn’t intend to become a troop leader, she stepped up to become a leader for the Girl Scout Brownies in Troop 45, and she hasn’t looked back.

“I read more and more about the national Girl Scout program and reflected on my own experiences that I wanted to share,” Rule said. “The Girl Scout mission statement is about building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. That is motivating! Who wouldn’t want to connect with that message?”

Commander Rule and Amelon’s first year with Troop 45 has been a whirlwind of adventure and excitement. They kayaked on the Lafayette River, picking up trash along the way. They volunteered with a mobile food pantry to help hand out food during the holidays. They even visited the Virginia Zoo and made enrichment toys for the zoo animals. No matter the activity, Commander Rule has made sure that everything they do is girl-led and girl-driven. Each girl in the troop has had an opportunity to share her passions and lead her fellow troop members in badge-earning activities.

“We have a girl in our troop, Jane, who wants to be a doctor,” Commander Rule shared. “She helped us build a first aid kit. Another girl in our troop, Reese, along with her mother who is a vice president at TowneBank, guided us through cookie season and helped us earn the Meet My Customers badge.”

In addition to community service and earning badges, the troops has also had plenty of fun outings. They have gone skiing, ice skated at MacArthur Center, planned a mother-daughter movie night and expressed their creativity at Color Me Mine while earning painting and pottery patches. The girls have also supported one another by going to each other’s sporting events, school plays and musicals to cheer on their fellow Girl Scouts.

For Commander Rule, just as she bonded with her mother who was her Girl Scout leader, Girl Scouts provides a place for her to spend quality time with Amelon. She enjoys seeing her daughter, and all of the troop members, push themselves to try new things, understand who they are and think about how to change the world—all while having fun.

“The girls are having fun this year, and I think they are better for it,” Commander Rule said. “I know I am better for being involved in Girl Scouts again.”

Despite a busy year, Girl Scout Troop 45 still has big plans. They will soon be traveling to the Eastern Shore for a camping trip at Kiptopeke State Park. Then, they plan to take a short break for summer as they gear up for another year of adventure when the new school year starts.

To find out more about Girl Scouts or to reconnect with the organization, visit