Building Strong Girls: What Girl Scouts Can Give Your Daughter

The Girl Scouts of the USA's CEO weighs in on what Girl Scouts offers girls and how it can benefit them, too.

The summer of sixth or seventh grade, my friend Ashleigh and I were Juniors in Girl Scouts and that was the year that our troop got to go at Camp Linden for the first time.

We were assigned to one of the last campsites in the camp called Tall Timbers and back in that area of the woods, we had to use an actual outhouse, bug nets to keep the mosquitoes, and possibly even larger critters, out of our bunks and a water pump that took two to use: one to hold the bucket and the other to pump the water.

I distinctly remember Ashleigh and I heading to the water pump after the sun went down. It was near pitch black out and we had gotten a few pumps of water up when a pair of glowing eyes blinked at us from a bush nearby. To this day, I have no idea what kind of animal it was. All I know is that we screamed as though we were being murdered, threw the bucket and hauled our butts back to camp – where we were met by some sleepy troop leaders who promptly told us to go back and get the bucket.

We slowly made our way back to the water pump, afraid the Blair Witch would pop out and drag us away, and found the bucket.

These days, Ashleigh and I don’t see much of each other but when I think of my time in Girl Scouts, I always remember that ridiculous moment and the fact that we had enough grit to go back toward whatever the eyes were attached to and get the dang bucket.

And I bet if you ask any other woman who was in Girl Scouts, they’d have a similar story.

That’s because Girl Scouts isn’t all about earning patches or selling cookies – though they are pretty great. Girl Scouts is about helping girls build friendships, confidence and self-esteem that they’ll use their whole lives.

Benefits of Girl Scouting

“What’s really great about Girl Scouts is that we’re a leadership giant,” Sylvia Acevedo, the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA says. “Girls in Girl Scouts grow up to be some of the great leaders of America.”

In fact, 50 percent of female business leaders, 73 percent of female U.S. senators and 100 percent of female U.S. secretaries of state all had one thing in common: they were all Girl Scouts.

And it’s easy to see why. The Girl Scouts focus on four primary areas: entrepreneurship, the outdoors, life skills and STEM, and teach these areas in a way in which the girls are having fun but also learning at the same time.

Couple that with an all-girl environment where the girls are comfortable enough to try new things with new friends and you have a recipe for success.

“You really can’t underestimate the importance of that safe, all-girl space, Acevedo, who learned that she loved science through Girl Scouts, says. “They have the chance to try new things (and) to learn that they can do it.”

When they can try new things, like kayaking, camping or crafting without being judged, they are allowed to fail, pick themselves up and try again, which helps them to build the self-esteem and confidence needed to thrive – not to mention the bravery to go back and face their fears.

“When self esteem builds (and) girls become more confident in who they are, over time girls become women that earn more money, tend to have higher educational outcomes and are happier in their lives,” Acevedo says.

Getting involved

Girl Scouts of the USA is open to all girls of all heritages and all socioeconomic levels between the age of 5 through their senior year in high school. Grown-up women are also welcome to become troop leaders and volunteers.

To learn more about the Girl Scouts of the USA, you can visit the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan’s headquarters in Detroit or connect with a troop leader near you through the Girl Scout website.

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