Girl Scouts USA: A 100th Birthday Salute

By Danny Tyree

It’s a regrettable sign of our fast-paced lives. After Veterans Day our thoughts of the nation’s heroes go back into mothballs along with their uniforms. After Christmas, “good will to men” shifts into channeling our inner Scrooge once more. And after the last box of Thin Mints has been consumed, Girl Scouts tend to become “out of sight, out of mind.”

I truly hope that Girl Scouts USA will linger in our consciousness long after March 12 (the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first troop by Juliette Gordon Low of Savannah, Georgia). The 3.2 million current members and 50 million alumnae have pledged to live by the slogan “Do a good turn daily,” so the nation should be willing to pay them attention and respect more than once a year.

Beyond the high-visibility community efforts such as food drives and visits to nursing homes, Girl Scouts USA has had a huge impact on society. The organization has long torn down barriers by welcoming girls with disabilities and girls from all socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as girls shackled by plain old shyness. Martin Luther King Jr. lauded Girl Scouts USA as “a force for desegregation.”

Girl Scouts USA is invaluable in providing positive role models for young ladies. There is certainly no shortage of negative role models in society: dysfunctional families, unambitious couch potatoes, substance-abusing celebrities, “what’s in it for me?” social climbers, girls whose limited dreams don’t go beyond snagging a “baby daddy” by age 15, singers who would probably think that appearing on stage wearing nothing but Girl Scout badges would be overdressing…

Girl Scouts USA (with its emphasis on courage, character and confidence) bring to mind Jimmy Stewart’s impassioned plea in defense of the Bailey Building and Loan in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Doesn’t the organization make its members better daughters, better sisters, better mothers, better spouses, better neighbors, better citizens, better co-workers, better bosses, better officeholders?

Yes, there are many sports leagues that teach self-esteem and teamwork. There are other fine extracurricular activities that indulge a particular interest. But none of those alternatives have quite the history, structure and resources that Girl Scouts USA has for teaching multiple skills and preparing girls to be tomorrow’s well-rounded leaders.

Girl Scouts USA has a proud tradition (Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Dole, and more than 20 of NASA’s career astronauts were members), but it strives to remain fresh and relevant. 136 new badges were added recently, allowing members to explore areas such as screenwriting, budgeting and entrepreneurship.

The doors opened by Girl Scouts USA are in defiance of those who perpetuate the stereotype that possessing two X chromosomes precludes one from having any aptitude in science, math, technology or engineering. You know the type; their idea of expanding the number of badges available to females involves grudgingly agreeing to split “barefoot” and “pregnant” into two separate badges.

Join me in supporting a bright 21st century for Scouting. But regardless of the impact of this humble column, I’m confident that Girl Scouts USA will long have a voice. After the Supreme Court decision giving free speech protections to corporate entities, I imagine that someday a box of Tagalongs and a box of Do-Si-Dos will get together to form a Super PAC.

Danny Tyree
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