THERE IS MORE TO GIRL SCOUTS
THAN SELLING COOKIES
BY lupe chávez
The Girl Scouts of the USA were started in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low. Gordon Low was a smart, strong, and independent woman who believed in the potential of all girls. On March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low held the first Girl Scout Troop meeting in Savannah, Georgia. According to the Girl Scout of the USA webpage “from that first gathering of a small troop of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls, Juliette broke the conventions of the time – reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure all girls, including those with so called disabilities, had a place to grow and develop their leadership skill.”
Today, the Girl Scouts in the USA has over 1.8 million girl members, and through its membership in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), Girl Scouts of the USA is part of a worldwide family of 10 million girls and adults in 146 countries, including Mexico and many Central and South American countries. The Girl Scouts of Alaska Council estimates (not all families report race/ethnicity when signing up) that there are around 450 Hispanic girls participating in Alaska, 200-250 in Anchorage.
The Mission of the Girl Scouts is to “Build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place”. One of the ways the Girl Scouts does this is by offering girls unique leadership experiences at every level of Girl Scouts (Daisy; Brownie; Junior; Cadette; Senior; Ambassador). Leadership in the Girl Scout world is defined as “knowing who you are and what you stand for” and “making decisions every day that inspire others to make a positive change in the world”.
In addition to leadership skills, Girl Scouts gives girls the opportunity to learn new skills by participating in different activities. Here’s just a few examples: Troop meetings; hands on learning at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Fairs; week-long Camps (Day Camp and Overnight Camp), and yes, selling Girl Scout Cookies. The Girl Scout Cookie Program helps girls learn these five important life skills:
1. Goal Setting,
2. Decision Making,
3. Money Management,
4. People Skills,
5. Business Ethics. Through all of these different activities, the Girl Scout program has proven to be a positive experience for girls.
I signed up to be a parent volunteer with the program four years ago when my daughter was in 1st Grade. The next year, with the help of another mom, I started a new Troop. I didn’t know much about Girl Scouts, but the Girl Scouts of Alaska provided training and support, and I had a Troop Leader manual that helped guide me along this journey.
Here are a few of the activities the Girl Scouts in our Troop have carried out to make a positive difference in our community: collected new toys, wrapped them, and delivered them to the AWAIC Shelter; helped pick up garbage and cleaned up a park/playground area; donated Girl Scout Cookies to Military Families, local fire fighters, teachers, Clare House and the AWAIC Shelter.
Troop Leader volunteers are not paid and we volunteer a lot of hours. It’s been a lot of work, but it has been rewarding work.
If you are interested in learning more about Girl Scouts, would like to volunteer or start a new troop, log on to these webpages for more information.