Under the Girl Scouts’ big tent: As the organization turns 100, its founder’s original mission is as relevant as ever
posted by: Guest Blogger
If the very first Girl Scouts of 100 years ago could compare their badges with the Girl Scouts of today, they might be dumbfounded by current categories — Stress Less? Business Owner? — but relieved to see some familiar, if rebranded, emblems.
Cycling, interpreter, naturalist, swimming and hiking survive, even if other skills — milking a cow, curing meat, hog-tying a burglar with an 8-inch cord — did not. Isabella Ozuna, a seasoned Girl Scout at age 11, is thankful for that.
“I know how to ride a horse,” she said, finding one thing that she would have in common with a 1912 Girl Scout.
And she knows how to sell cookies, that venerable fundraising method that’s paid for countless Girl Scout camping trips nearly since the organization started. Since sales started last Sunday, she and her sister, Daisy Scout Annie Ozuna, have sold two dozen boxes.
Of course, today the cookies are manufactured at commercial bakeries, not made at home from founder Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low’s own recipe.
But, for the first time in decades, customers who buy Girl Scout cookies don’t have to wait.
Just as their predecessors did, this year Girl Scouts finally can hand their customers a box of Thin Mints or Samoas on the spot. Eliminating delayed gratification helps soothe the pain of paying $3.50 for 8 ounces (or less). Another update: Now some of the Girl Scouts take credit cards.
At heart, the mission remains the same, says Girl Scouts of Colorado interim CEO Stephanie Foote, who once was a Girl Scout.
“A lot’s changed from the time when Girl Scouts meant cookies, camp and crafts,” Foote said.
“Now the focus is on leadership and development to help girls discover who they are, their values, their passions and skills, their ability to connect with community and take action, to serve and to work as a team.”
That sounds a lot like what Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low had in mind on March 12, 1912, when she convened the first meeting of what became the Girl Scouts. By 1917, those tenets were firmly in place when 18 Colorado girls gathered in Colorado Springs for the state’s first Girl Scout meeting.
A century later, the Girl Scout law still holds up, defining Girl Scouts as honorable, loyal, useful, friendly, courteous, pure, humane, obedient, cheerful and thrifty.
Not to mention being excellent cookie sales representatives, even if those Thin Mints practically sell themselves.
And now, as then, diversity remains key.
Low made sure that the Girl Scout doors were open to African-American, Native American and Latina girls, and to girls from all income levels. Of Colorado’s 30,000 Girl Scouts, about two-thirds are white, with the rest divided among Asian-American, Latina, African-American and other ethnicities.
Last year, Colorado Girl Scouts took inclusiveness to a new level. One Colorado troop included a transgendered scout — a boy who dresses and lives as a girl.
That provoked some conservatives into calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies. But it hews to the venerable Girl Scout law, and it underscored the widely adopted Power Up anti-bullying program that originated with the Colorado Girl Scout chapter.
With that rare exception, most Girl Scouts are girls, but they’re not required to be in a troop.
The Juliette Program, named for founder Low, allows girls to register on their own and do projects at their own pace, avoiding conflicts with soccer and other extracurricular activities. Independent and ongoing programs include projects in science, technology, math and problem-solving.
To celebrate the centennial, and to encourage girls to see themselves as leaders — Foote pointed out that today Congress and boardrooms have fewer female members than in the past — the Girl Scouts are seeking partnership from female state legislators, corporations and businesses.
Sixty Denver restaurants will participate in Dine Out for Girl Scouts on Feb. 2, donating 20 percent of sales (excluding alcohol) to the Girl Scouts of Colorado. For more information, visit bit.ly/DO4GS.