More than 100 years ago, Girl Scouts of the United States of America was founded in Savannah, Georgia, by Juliette Gordon Low. During a time when women did not have the right to vote, Low saw a need for an organization that enables girls to explore their interests and develop character. Although the Girl Scouts organization has kept up with the times, its leaders still follow its original goal of allowing girls to pursue their interests and improve their communities while having fun at the same time. Girl Scout Week is celebrated each year to raise awareness about the organization, and commemorate its history and traditions.
“Traditionally, Girl Scout week always begins with a Girl Scout Sunday and ends with Girl Scout Sabbath in order for girls to be recognized when they attend services at their places of worship,” says Katie Dawson, communications manager for Girl Scouts of Central Indiana. “It raises attention to the fact that Girl Scouts is about making sure that girls are prepared for a lifetime of leadership and adventure. This year the dates are March 8 through 14.”
Leaders of the Girls Scouts organization focus on developing a lifetime of leadership by offering opportunities for girls of all ages – kindergarteners and first graders are Daisies; second and third graders become Brownies; fourth and fifth graders are Juniors; six through eighth-graders are Cadettes; ninth and tenth graders are Seniors; those in grades 11 and 12 are Ambassadors. Beyond that, adults can become volunteers.
“Parents are encouraged to get involved by becoming troop leaders,” Dawson says. “Other adults can volunteer too.”
Within the various levels of participation, programming is carefully tailored to fit each age group. Girls are guided to develop a sense of self, display positive values, seek challenges and learn from setbacks, form and maintain healthy relationships, and solve problems in their communities. At the same time, science, technology, engineering and math are stressed along with the outdoors, life skills and entrepreneurship.
“Troops use their cookie money for community projects,” Dawson adds. “Each troop can decide on their own individual focus to make their community even better.”
Recently, Greenwood Troop 1750 earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award, which is the highest honor Girl Scout Juniors can achieve. The group worked with the Johnson County Animal Shelter to improve the quality of life for pigs. The girls researched grass and flower species that would be suitable to plant around a new pig enclosure.
“Our girls harnessed their existing talents and interests, built new skills, and reached out to other community members to complete a project that exceeded their and the shelter’s expectations,” says Sandy Saha, Troop 1750 Bronze Award advisor. “As their project advisor, there was nothing quite so satisfying as standing in the pouring rain on planting day and hearing a girl say, ‘We did it!’”
Most girls join troops at the beginning of a new school year, but leaders are always looking for new participants. A prospective member can join an existing troop within her school or find the closest troop’s location by visiting the official website.
“Girl Scouting is a fun way to learn, acquire leadership skills and develop lifelong friendships,” Dawson says. “For over a century, it has been the premier organization that focuses on nurturing and developing girls.”
Visit GirlScoutsIndiana.org for more information.