I was a Girl Scout as a child, and some of my most wonderful memories are from that time. My daughter is a Daisy this year, and the incredible amount of emotion and connection I felt at that first meeting brought me back 20+ years.
Yet today, not as many of our girls may ever have the “On My Honor” experience. An NPR article talks about several reasons the Girl Scouts are losing numbers — both in children and volunteers:
“Long known for promoting camping skills and cookie sales, the Girl Scouts underwent a makeover a few years ago. The group developed STEM, an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and a revamped ‘National Leadership Journeys’ program.”
Volunteers are in short demand as well. Most former scouts and parents dislike the new format, and are finding other activities to enroll their daughters in. With both sports and electives like art and drama vying for time that used to be part of a school day, more parents steer their kids to focused, outcome-based programs.
What they’re missing out on is the rich history and kinship of what the Girl Scouts is about, no matter the material used.
“Ninety-seven percent of parents agree that Girl Scouts has been a positive activity for their daughter, that she has had fun and exciting new experiences (95 percent), and that she has learned or tried something new (96 percent). In addition, 94 percent of parents say that because of Girl Scouts their daughter feels special, has more friends (95 percent), and is happier (89 percent).” – recent poll of Girl Scout parents/volunteers.
While Girl Scouts may have redesigned itself to encourage more STEM-type thinking and creating, it’s still the same focus for girls. The message is, “You can do this well.” Girls, long thought to be the underdogs in science and math, are proving their skills in these areas as more opportunities arise for them.
Our troop focuses on many of the skills Girl Scouts is known for — camping, learning to start a fire, outdoor survival, cooking – but the modern “tomboy” also knows how to be business savvy, use her camera as a pro, and create code for websites.
Much like the reaction to Facebook changes (where friends threaten to delete their accounts and plead for things to go back to the way they were via status updates) Girl Scouts simply has to ride this out. It takes a few years for a generation to show the benefits of the change. They’ll learn different skills and lessons each year that will serve them in all facets of a well-rounded life. We’ll see powerful women who were Girl Scouts step forward to assert they know how to both sew a badge, start a fire, run a business, and write HTML.
Now that’s a force to be reckoned with.
Image courtesy of Diana Stone