All of the media surrounding Girl Scouts in the wake of the recent Boy Scout decision has me realizing one major thing – there are a lot of misconceptions around Girl Scouts! So, let’s clear up some of those misconceptions! First, let me say that Girl Scouting is alive and well and continuing to thrive. From our founding 105 years ago to now, we are the premier girl leadership organization in the world, and we continue to deliver amazing girl-led programing nationally and right here in our Council.
What is meant by programming? Certainly not “just crafts and cookies” as some may have been led to believe. Girl Scout programming is specifically designed to enhance a girl’s skills and knowledge and to nurture the qualities necessary to be a leader in the world now and as an adult. Girl Scout programming builds important life skills that you would want your daughter, sister, doctor, government leader, co-worker, and yes – your boss, to have. Good sportsmanship? Public speaking? Thinking big? Making good choices? STEM skills? Great customer service? Yup, we have badges for all of that! Clearly, Girl Scouting is about so much more than just crafts.
One of the hallmarks of Girl Scouts is service and nothing exemplifies this more than Girl Scouts’ highest distinction, The Girl Scout Gold Award. With talk in the media centered on Boy Scouting’s highest award, it’s time to claim our space and do a better job of highlighting the exceptional accomplishments of Gold Award Girl Scouts. While it may lack name recognition (so far - let’s change that!) the Girl Scout Gold Award is perhaps more difficult to achieve than any scouting accommodation. Gold Award Girl Scouts identify a problem in their community and develop a solution that provides sustainable impact. I’ve personally heard from parents who have both Eagle Scouts and Gold Award Girl Scouts that the Gold Award can be more rigorous. In fact, only 5.4% of eligible Girl Scouts successfully earn the Gold Award. When you hear about Gold Award Girl Scouts, you know you’re learning about a game changing young woman.
And finally – let’s talk about outdoor adventure. With five camp properties and thousands of wilderness acres to explore in our Council and beyond, we offer multiple outdoor and high adventure experiences for girls. Troops of all ages can earn badges in primitive camping, eco camping, archery, paddling, survival skills and more. And each year our Council offers camp experiences which provide girls the chance to go wild, exploring lakes, high ropes courses, building their own campfire—even setting out on the trail through our wilderness trips, exploring the wilds of Michigan’s forests or the boundary waters of Minnesota.
The beauty of Girl Scouts? As our national CEO, Sylvia Acevedo pointed out in a recent article – Girls are the stars in Girl Scouting, “At Girl Scouts, girls aren’t the ancillary tag-along or supporting player — they are the central character.” As you explore programs and activities that are right for the girl in your life, ask yourself if you want the girl in your life to be the leader of her own experiences, to be provided opportunities for supported risk-taking, and to have the opportunity to tackle challenges, building the skills she needs to succeed wherever her life may take her. If your answer is yes, we have the program for you!
- Gail McNutt, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes