Like a girl: Scouting program builds strong young women

Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies? If not, maybe you would like to know more about the Girl Scout program and what lies behind the caramel coated, toasted coconut; a program that builds character, true grit, and important lifelong skills that turn girls into strong women.  Though it may not seem like it, Girl Scouts is more than just an operation sneaking into the hearts and stomachs of Americans everywhere through sweet cookies and even sweeter smiles.

Often connected to petty sleepovers, silly hair braiding, arts & crafts, and cookie sales, Girl Scouts is stuck with a whole set of stigmas and stereotypes. Sure, we do lots of arts & crafts, but only because everyone loves arts & crafts. There are typically tons of troop sleepovers which are not only reserved for watching chick-flicks and eating leftover thin mints, but also working on badges that require mastering skills ranging from sewing to business management to social communications. There is, of course, more to Girl Scouts than meets the eye.

As what many would consider an older Girl Scout, I’ve been able to see what being a part of such an organization is like and what it can do for girls involved. Not only have I seen myself grow as a young woman through the various activities we do to build skills like money management and even babysitting, but I have seen the younger girls of our “super-troop” of 30+ girls make best friends, learn new things, and grow as individuals.   

Many find it odd for a teenager to still be a part of Girl Scouts. In my case, I have only been in Girl Scouts for five years, starting in the sixth grade. As I’ve been a Girl Scout, I’ve seen girls come and go, especially once they feel as if they’ve aged out. At a certain age, girls feel like there’s nothing left for them in the program, since Girl Scouts seems like it’s largely centered around the younger girls. It’s important for girls to realize that they haven’t burned out, and that there is still so much that Girl Scouts can offer older girls.

Contrary to popular belief, as girls age in the Girl Scout program, the more opportunities arise and the more things they get to do. If I were a Girl Scout in the fifth grade the coolest thing I could do would probably be going to NASA, but as an older member, I get to go to Washington, DC for the Fourth of July with the four other high school girls in my troop with the money raised from cookie sales. Not only are there trips available through the troop, but also through the Girl Scouts themselves. Girl Scouts offers girls trips around the globe, from China to Australia to South America to Switzerland, and beyond.

Although trips abroad are exciting and provide great experiences, that’s not the only benefit from the program for older participants. As I’m sure students have heard, being a Girl Scout looks good on college or volunteer applications. This is somewhat true, but only if girls are active in the program. At the very top of the scouting award hierarchy sits the Girl Scout Gold Award, above becoming an Eagle Scout through the Boy Scouts. Now before people get all up in arms believing that nothing is more prestigious for a teenager than becoming an Eagle Scout, know that there are requirements for attaining such awards. Both awards require tons of hours logged for processes like planning and the execution of the project, but also ask for aspects like community service and a lasting impression on whomever the project is executed for, like building trail maps at a local campground or creating a fitness regimen for the local ice rink. Both awards highlight what it means to be a Girl or Boy Scout, and recipients are often praised for their hard work and dedication, catching the attention of college admission officers and volunteer coordinators by demonstrating the skills synonymous with Girl Scouting like out-of-the-box thinking and true commitment.  

Now if you’re looking for an organization where you can work on character and spend time working with peers on new, fun and interesting skills, Girl Scouts is always around. It’s never too late to become a part of or support such an amazing program, whether it be by being an active member, adult volunteer, or even buying enough boxes of cookies to last you until the next cookie season.