You know that Girl Scout Cookies are tasty, but did you know that they’re the bedrock of the largest girl-led business in the world? That’s right: a hundred and one years after its first meeting, the Girl Scouts are—and always have been—all about girl power. Here are six things you didn’t know about the Girl Scouts.
IT BEGAN WITH DAISY’S DREAM
On March 12, 1912, a 52-year-old woman named Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout meeting. The Girl Scout website explains that Daisy “believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually.” Daisy’s prescient goal—which remains just as valid over a hundred years later—was to bring “girls out of isolated home environments and into community service and the open air.” In addition, Daisy’s vision of the Girl Scouts was one of inclusion and diversity, welcoming girls of varied ethnicities and those with disabilities, too.
CHANGING WITH THE TIMES
Just as Daisy’s thinking was revolutionary for her time, the Girl Scouts have continued to embrace change and evolve with the times. Some of the new badges—like Global Awareness, Adventure Sports, Stress Less, and Environmental Health—reflect the evolution of the Girl Scouts. In fact, the Girl Scout Research Institute was founded in 2000 to keep up with the changing times and better understand the issues facing young women.
SELLING COOKIES = SWEET SKILLS
As the official Girl Scout website explains, when a Girl Scout sells cookies, she’s doing more than exchanging sweet treats for money: “She learns goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—aspects essential to leadership, to success, and to life.” Those are five vital skills, some of which—particularly decision making, money management, and business ethics—can often be associated more with the male gender. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important that these qualities be emphasized to our girls, whether it’s in regards to their entrepreneurial endeavors, career goals, or simply life in general.
Read Related: Girls and Rough Sports
FOCUS ON LEADERSHIP
Last year, the Girl Scouts launched ToGetHerThere, a movement to allow young women to strive for leadership and attain their goals, after a study revealed that girls didn’t see leadership as part of their futures. In a January 12, 2012 news release, the Girls Scouts reported that the study “found that close to three in five girls think that a woman can rise up in a company but will only rarely be put in a senior leadership role. Additionally, more than one-third of girls say they would not feel comfortable trying to be a leader, while almost 40 percent are not sure if they are cut out to be a leader.” We want young women to believe they can accomplish anything, but clearly many feel limited. It’s time for that to change—and the Girl Scouts aim to do just that.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HELPING OUT
The Girl Scouts have a rich history of identifying those in need and being proactive about helping out. Sometimes the help comes via fundraising or community service. But the Girl Scouts also have valuable initiatives. Two examples of these worthwhile efforts include Girl Scouts Behind Bars (GSBB), which assists Scouts who have mothers in prison, and P.A.V.E. (Project Anti-Violence Education) the Way, which aims to teach young women about avoiding or coping with the violence in their lives, whether it’s in their relationships, at school, or on the Internet.
THE SCOUTS SPEAK UP!
The Girl Scout organization believes in advocacy, and hasn’t been shy about pursuing relationships with government bigwigs, whether it’s in the White House or Congress, to make the needs of the Girl Scouts (and young women in general) known to influential higher-ups. To that end, they’ve created Troop Capital Hill, a partnership with Congress. And speaking of Congress, two-thirds of female Congress members are former Girl Scouts. Talk about girl power!