I recently read an article about Girl Scouts and the current attacks on our organization in the mainstream media. The author, who had been a Brownie, interviewed GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chavez; Lidia Soto-Harmon, the Washington, D.C., CEO; and Colleen Walker, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. It was interesting to read about her conclusions.
As someone who is in the midst of Girl Scouts all day, every day, it is sometimes hard to get to 30,000 feet to gain perspective. In this article, the author confronted some of the current accusations. The first she explored was Planned Parenthood being a partner with Girl Scout. Her conclusion after many interviews is that all this does emanate from an interview years ago where Kathy Cloninger, the previous GSUSA CEO who made some statements that could be misconstrued to indicate there was a relationship between Planned Parenthood and Girl Scouts. She could not find the connection, and the CEOs interviewed indicated most of our clientele, which is under the age of 11, doesn't even know what Planned Parenthood is about. That would clearly be my experience.
The next criticism has to do with religion. The Girl Scouts have long been an inclusive organization, welcoming girls of all faiths and beliefs. If the Girl Scout Promise and Law are an affront, a girl is allowed to insert a reference to the deity she worships. Girl Scouts value system includes religion, but it does not dictate specificity. Anna Maria Chavez spoke to the need to be inclusive to everyone.
This author had attended the 100th anniversary Rock the Mall event that boasted over 250,000 Girl Scouts. She walked the Mall interviewing girls and experiencing the SWAPS and crafts and other fun events for the girls. She indicated she was struck by the power of the event and the accomplishments of the girls attending. Each was articulate, she could explain why she was there, and talked about issues she was passionate about.
This author was impressed by the power of the iconic Girl Scout brand more than 100 years later. The interviews with CEOs illustrated the extent to which the organization has changed over time, working to assure that girls will be a powerful force in the community and in leadership roles. Those of you who work with girls can resonate with the history of Girl Scouts and the values of Juliette Gordon Low, but you put those values to work with the girls you mentor in today's context.
The beauty of this article is that it reminds us of the value of what we all do to make the world a better place. Girl Scouts has a rich history and tradition, but what might sometimes not seem like the "cool" thing to do, translates to being a powerful force as an woman in adulthood.
If you are interested in reading the entire article, it can be found at here.