Leadership, Role Models and Girl Scouts

March 14th, 2012

Monday night I attended an event celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts in the US. A couple of unexpected things happened. First, I received a lesson in how role models and believing in people and providing roles models makes a difference.

Here are some statistics I found stunning:

 . . . 80% of women business owners were Girl Scouts, 69% of female U.S. Senators were Girl Scouts, 67% of female members of the House of Representatives were Girl Scouts, and virtually every female astronaut who has flown in space was a Girl Scout.  (Marina Park, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern Californa)

The Girl Scout organization attributes this to girls growing up with women leaders, in an organization that believe in girls and women and works to build “courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place.”

The second unexpected thing was how emotional the evening was for me. I attended because I was honored as one of the 100 women of Northern California selected to receive the “Greening the Future” award and to represent what’s possible. I went knowing that I had been a Girl Scout, but not thinking much about it. The statistics above struck me personally. Anytime I find a demographic that I fit into I’m interested, since I’m so often the only one of my kind in a room (e.g., the only woman, or the only person who studied China rather than technology, or the only person who can be equally happy watching either football or classical ballet, or the only person who . . . . . .)

I was also struck — viscerally — by the memories. The evening’s talks started off with a discussion of Girl Scout camping. I realized I had related my strongest memory of Girl Scout camping to my son literally 2 days before. That was a shock that suggested Girl Scouts may have had more impact on my life than I have thought.

A few women wore their sashes with achievement badges. Af first I thought this was fun and interesting — mine was lost unknown years and moves ago. Then during the award ceremony I stood next to a woman wearing hers. It made me gasp. I recognized the general pattern, the wings, the troop badge and some of the actual badges. “I had that badge, and that one , and that one too!” I haven’t thought of these in some times. Yet they instantly reminded me of hours spend figuring out what I wanted to learn about, and what I was going to do to learn and demonstrate my accomplishment.

I guess maybe being a Girl Scout taught me more than I knew at the time.

6 comments for “Leadership, Role Models and Girl Scouts”

  1. 1

    Flore said on March 14th, 2012 at 1:55 pm:

    I also was a girl scout (in France) and I think that it had much influence on me. I really liked to build everything using only timber and string. And also light a fire…
    A few years ago, I was at a sailing club (Les Glénans), someone proposed to make a fire on the beach and added “But I don’t know how to make a fire, who does?”. I was the only one answering “I do.”. The guy looked at me and said “I’m sure you were a girl scout for 10 years.”. Yep! And so I built a fire that warmed up everyone, this was a great summer night…

    But now, in France, girl scouts and boy scouts are only one organization and troops are mixed from 15 of age (at least for “Scouts de France”). It’s a real shame, because that’s the age where girls would need to do things by themselves and where boys want to show off. In mixed troops, boys will convince girls that boys should do the hard work while girls cook for them. In girl troops, there are girls cutting timber, building furniture, pitching tents, lightning fires and cooking.

    They are losing the girl scouting spirit you are talking about. May Lady BP forgive them all 😉

  2. 2

    Pat Roush said on March 15th, 2012 at 7:43 am:

    I too have attended and will continue to attend the many and varied Centennial Celebrations for Girl Scouts of the USA this year. How can I not? As a child placed in many homes and moved often, I became more than attached to Girl Scouts … it was a life line of normalcy when everything else was shifting and turning. I could not save the pictures or pieces of uniforms … but I have always kept my pins and memories. Now as an active senior woman in Girl Scouts who is a Facilitator, Resource Person, Council Committee member, Trefoil Guild member, Friend of Cabana, Lifetime Member, former mommy-leader, singer-of-songs, I feel compelled to ‘pay back’ what I received. I was given much and hope to give as much as time allows.

    Girls being girls, kids being kids, it was not easy to enter new groups; but leaders always made the way better. Without pictures to remind me, in my heart the leaders have never grown old, slowed down or been out of reach. They made a seat in the circle, a part in the ceremony, a candle to hold and a coat at the campout. Now, I go to many Gatherings outside my council and country because Girl Scouts is about progression in program AND growing, being challenged and becoming more than I thought I could be. Along the way I have found some of those “girls” … grandmothers now … who remember, if not me, at least the activities we shared! What a joyful journey it has been. How can I not continue to want it? It’s all about the Promise and Law … for a lifetime.

  3. 3

    Charles Severance said on March 16th, 2012 at 4:46 am:

    Mitchell, I was a very active Boy Scout when I was younger. And all your words ring so true. Scouting programs teach young people about seeing a bigger picture at a critical formative moment in their life. They teach about leadership and service to others. And they also camp and teach self-reliance. Scouts are a way for young people to see respectful behavior and rewards for things that they put effort into. And heck – cooking hamburger, butter and vegetables in tinfoil over coals! So you learn the oh-so-important lesson that you can never have too much butter!

    In retrospect, the statistics you cite are not surprising at all.

    Wonderful post.

  4. 4

    Pat Dixon Scruggs said on March 17th, 2012 at 7:18 am:

    I am a Girl Scout and 63 years old. I became a Girl Scout in 3rd grade and continued until my Sophmore year of high school. My dad moved us to Belgium, but being in private enterprise GS was not available to us…Only on the US bases.
    In 1990, my husband, son and I moved to East Tennessee and my son began involved in Boy Scouts, so did I. He received his Eagle(I have my Curve Bar) and moved on. A lady by the name of Jane New asked if I would come to a “Train the Trainer” event and become a trainer for women joining Girl Scouts. So started my journey with Girl Scouts..I have been an assistant leader for 2 troops, a leader for 2 troop, sat on the Product Committee (Nuts, candy and of course cookies) prior to our council merge.
    Still a Facilitator(Trainer), sit on a couple of Task Force, no longer have troops, younger women need to learn and step up and become the next journey makers.
    I love going to camping functions, especially to P2P Council, next door in North Caroline, been to the World Center in Mexico twice. My favorite place.
    Girl Scouts , even at my age, is teaching new and exciting things.
    Please if you have any time on our hands, think about contacting your local Girl Scout office and become either a leader or resource person to help our next generation of girls.

  5. 5

    epimedium said on March 18th, 2012 at 9:54 am:

    hi turkish Thank you four your nice writing

  6. 6

    Henry Meeson said on March 24th, 2012 at 7:33 am:

    Wow, nice statistics, I guess it really pays of to be a girl scout =)

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