Tag Archives: Girl Scouts of the USA

Early Girl Scout experience yields lifetime benefits

Girl Scouts of the USA was founded in the spring of 1912 with one leader and 18 girls. Today it has 3.2 million members; 2.3 million girls and more than 800,000 adult volunteers. Nearly one out of every two American women—there are an estimated 50 million living alumnae—have been Girl Scouts.

Last year, with the upcoming centenary of Girl Scouts of the USA in mind—the organization turned 100 years old on March 12—the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) decided to take a look at the organization’s long-term effects on its girl members. What GSRI found is the basis of a report just now being published, called Girl Scouting Works: The Alumnae Impact Study.

It’s good news: for us here at Girl Scouts of Colorado, for the girls and adults we work with and for the estimated 50 million American women who are former Girl Scouts. In a nutshell, compared with non-alumnae, Girl Scout alumnae feel better about themselves, are more active as mentors and community volunteers, vote more regularly, are better educated and enjoy higher household income. This was particularly true for women who’d been long-term Girl Scouts; those who were members for three or more years scored significantly higher in every area than alumnae who were members for a shorter time.

We see that in our current members while they’re still girls. Those who stay in long enough to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award—generally, seniors in high school—find themselves accomplishing things their ten- or eleven-year-old selves couldn’t even have imagined. (For a girl to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, by the way, is at least as hard as it is for a boy to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, and parents with children who have done both think it may be harder. The armed forces understand this: Gold Award recipients, just like Eagle Scouts, enter the service one grade higher in rank than other enlistees, having already proven themselves as leaders. If you’re an employer or college admissions officer, ask your female applicants about their Girl Scout experience. If you’re a Gold Award recipient, put it on your resume. This stuff matters.)

“Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout” – that’s me and millions of other alumnae. After reading the GSRI study, I immediately reflected on the inaugural dinner of the Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber in the early 90s. LaRae Orullian, President of the Women’s Bank in Denver and former National President of Girl Scouts of the USA, was the keynote speaker. More than 400 women and a handful of men were present. LaRae asked those who were Girl Scouts to stand up. It would not be exaggerating to say that more than 90 percent of the room was on their feet! As I looked around it was an affirmation of what we know today and a very empowering experience. This was a group of confident women who knew they could do whatever they set out to do and accomplish their dreams. It started out with those words we all learned… “On my honor, I will try” …and look at where we are today!

When asked what they got out of their Girl Scout experience, one thing the alumnae frequently mentioned was confidence: the feeling that they could do whatever they set out to do. This is essential for anyone wanting to lead a successful life, women and men alike, but building and maintaining self-confidence is often more challenging for girls and women.

Girl Scouting is not the only connection to girls’ confidence and later-life success. That’s why in January we launched ToGetHerThere, the largest, boldest advocacy and fundraising cause campaign dedicated to girls’ leadership in our nation’s history. The goal of ToGetHerThere is to level the playing field in leadership opportunities for girls within a single generation. We need all the brainpower we can muster, and we need everyone—parents, corporations, nonprofits, government, and ordinary citizens—to support girls as they figure out what their goals are and stretch themselves to achieve them.

Girl Scouts is a big part of the answer. We’ve always known that, and now we have the numbers to prove it. You don’t have to wait a lifetime to see results, either. If a girl comes to us in the second grade, the odds are good she’s going to have a better and more successful third-grade year. If she stays the course through high school and earns her Gold Award, college—and the rest of her life—are going to be a whole different experience for her. Girl Scouting works.

Bringing the Girl Scout National Convention home

From Jennifer Colosimo from Arvada who is an Assistant Troop Leader (Cadette Troop 316), Membership Connection Committee Member, National Council Delegate and representative to the Colorado Girl Scouts Board of Directors


"National Convention"

Many Girl Scout members don’t realize that there is National Girl Scout Council that is charged with giving broad policy direction to the future of the Girl Scout Movement in the United States.  The National Council, made up primarily of delegates from United State councils, convenes every three years to vote on business proposals, reflect on topics like women in corporate leadership positions and girl advocacy, and to have fun celebrating the Girl Scout Movement!

Colorado recently sent delegates, including three girl delegates, staff members, and additional girls attending the Girl Scout Leadership Institute to convention. This year’s National Convention, which was held in Houston in November, held special significance for Girl Scouts as the organization officially kicked off their 100th anniversary celebrations for 2012 and named 2012 the “Year of the Girl.”

As a Colorado delegate, we went to Fallapaloozas and held three webinars to obtain the opinions of the Girl Scout members in the state of Colorado on three proposals. We voted according to the feedback obtained across the state.

The first proposal passed and authorized local councils to charge an annual council services fee for girl members. Our council is not going to charge a general fee  (not to be confused with event-related fees for specific events like camp, council events or travel) at this time.

The second proposal didn’t pass. It was going to change the timing of when delegates were elected.  Many of the girl delegates said they couldn’t have been elected any earlier because, when they were 12 years old, they didn’t know what they might do when they turned 14!  (I feel the same way, and I’m in my 40s :))

The third proposal didn’t pass, but was sent to a task force. It was heavily debated as it would have created the ability of a council to have a rolling membership year for each girl that commenced on the date she first registered. Having been a leader for 8 years, I was interested in options for membership, but not the administrative nightmare of tracking each girl’s enrollment date!

But don’t think this experience was all Robert’s Rule of Order. OK, a lot of it was. But there was some fun! The 12 girls who attended from Colorado sang songs as we walked through downtown Houston the first night. All the Colorado adults and girls who attended experienced courage, confidence and character in another part of the country and had the opportunity to feel the strength of the Girl Scout Movement. The program keynotes included Lifetime Girl Scouts such as Katie Couric and Robin Roberts. The official 100th anniversary kickoff event was a huge party, and the convention floor featured tons of great stuff for girls and leaders.

If you’re interested in contributing in the same way in the state of Colorado, our Membership Connection Committee (MCC) is very active and looking for new members, particularly in the Denver metro area. Visit the Girl Scouts of Colorado website for more information. We’d love to have you apply, and maybe join us in Salt Lake City in 2014 for the next convention!