Teaching courage, confidence and character for more than 100 years, Girl Scouts is on a mission to change the world one girl at a time and they’re doing it in ways you may not realize.
“Girl Scouts is probably one of the best kept secrets there is,” explains Ruth Wilson, Director of Recruitment for Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan. “People see us as camp, cookies and crafts – and we are so much more.”
Want to learn cybersecurity or coding? There’s a badge for that. Want to join a robotics team, go rock climbing or excel at public speaking? With Girl Scouts, you choose your own adventure. The organization is constantly evolving so each girl can travel a unique path that supports her individual interests and abilities. “It’s almost mind-boggling how much we offer; sometimes I wonder if it sounds unbelievable,” Wilson admits.
The organization just launched 42 new badges, further expanding the options available for girls in grades K-12. “There are certain things you want to teach your children but aren’t sure how and the opportunities don’t exist in day-to-day life,” says Jamie Hudson, a Michigan native and mother of a second-year Brownie. “Through the Girl Scouts program, the girls in our troop have all become confident leaders and excellent citizens.”
According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, Girl Scouts shine above their peers in leadership, academics, career aspirations and hope for the future. Research also shows Girl Scouts can buffer girls against negative outcomes at a crucial time in their lives. “Most girls lose their confidence and sense of self when they get into middle school,” details Wilson. “Those who have been Girl Scouts actually have an uptick in confidence when they get to the middle school years.”
Adolescence can be tough to navigate, especially when a family is strained by financial hardships, safety concerns, or a water crisis. “Flint has been challenged with all that’s happened, yet it has a sense of community,” Wilson shares. The organization supplements academics, too. “Being a girl-only group allows girls to learn things that they don’t find as easy to learn in a co-ed environment,” she explains, in hopes that girls feeling discouraged at school will lean on Girls Scouts for support.
Yes, there are even vital lessons learned in those hard-to-resist Thin Mints and Samoas. “It’s a little bit different than just selling cookies. They learn business ethics, how to speak to people about their product,” says Wilson. It’s the biggest girl-led business in the world. Hudson’s daughter, Harper, set an impressive goal of selling 700 boxes last season and far exceeded that selling 1,200. Hard work and determination pay off, even at age seven!
Despite the long list of positives, there are limitations and challenges. “Adults who are available to lead troops are in short supply,” says Wilson, referencing a generation of busy, working parents and children with jam-packed schedules. “The bottom line is, it requires a certain amount of commitment,” she admits. “But it is so worth it.”
The organization makes it easy for adults to get involved, offering flexible leadership opportunities, online resources and a troop support department. “Recruiters will work with people to make it happen,” encourages Wilson. “If you express interest, we’ll bend over backward to try and make it work.”
To learn more contact Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan at 800.482.6734 or visit gssem.org.
Did you know?
Girls Scouts CEO, Sylvia Acevedo, is a lifelong Girl Scout and rocket scientist!
PhotosProvided by Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan