Former Girl Scouts will recognize the beginning of the Girl Scout Promise:
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help other people at all times
And to live by the Girl Scout Law
I was a Girl Scout from Juniors through my senior year in high school. No, it wasn’t “cool” even 40+ years ago, and it’s less so today. There were 20+ girls in our Troop; today, some girls are “Juliette’s” (individual girls without a Troop, named for the founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Low) and attend events solo because there are not enough girls nearby to form a Troop. Other Troops may consist of just 3-4 girls. Girls now travel from all over the metro area to events so there will be a large enough group in attendance. This is a shame and represents so many missed opportunities for our girls.
It’s Not Just About the Cookies
Girl Scouts may be most closely associated with their annual Cookie Sale. The Cookie Sale is the largest entrepreneurial program in the world and teaches all kinds of valuable lessons about sales, running a small business and more, but it’s not the main focus. The Cookie Sale enables the girls to raise the money necessary to travel and to accomplish their goals or initiatives.
Community involvement was always a part of Scouting, but today, it’s on steroids. The Girl Scout Gold Award (open only to girls in high school) is the most prestigious award in the world for girls—and the most difficult to earn—and it’s only available to Girl Scouts.
This past weekend I heard a panel of past Gold Award winners describe their award projects. Through this Gold Award Program, these girls tackled bullying, mental health in schools, texting and driving, reading skills and a host of other issues.
Their “Take Action” steps have seen programs adapted into laws and into school and community programs that are sustainable. Each girl talked about the ways in which earning her Gold Award played a part in her acceptance to universities and was an impressive differentiator in many of their employment interviews.
It’s often said that people don’t leave organizations, they leave managers or leaders. A good leader is critial. My Girl Scout leaders through the years, Mrs. Anna Howell, Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Dorothy Brown and Mrs. Elaine Klopsic, had a profound influence on all of us and made travel and achieving goals through Girl Scouting fun and entertaining as well as educational. There were many opportunities open to us as Girl Scouts that we would not have had access to on our own.
Girl Scouts Develop Strong Leadership Skills
When I was a member of the Women President’s Organization, I mentioned this to the 10 women in my chapter. I was surprised to learn that 8 of the 10 business owners had been Girl Scouts. This should not have been a surprise at all, because here are some interesting statistics:
- half of all business women in the U.S. have been Girl Scouts
- 73% of female U.S. Senators were Girl Scouts
- Girl Scouts collectively spend tens of millions of hours improving their communities
Today, Girl Scouts are focused on developing leadership skills, a strong sense of self, forming positive relationships, identifying and solving problems in the community and more.
Even 40 years later, I bring the influence of Girl Scouts to every role that I’ve played in organizations, including:
- Be prepared
- Do a good turn every day
- Leave a place better than you found it
If you have a daughter or know a young girl, consider encouraging her to join the Girl Scouts (and to earn her Gold Award!). These girls are intelligent, driven, focused on improving the world and will be fully prepared for leadership roles in the future. I can’t wait to see the positive changes they will make!
Barb Hendrickson is President of Visible Communication, LLC, President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association and recipient of numerous Professional awards. Barb is a frequent speaker and trainer on Social Media, Storytelling, Using LinkedIn for Business, Incentives & Promotional Marketing and more.