95 years ago this month in Savannah, Juliette Gordon Low gathered 18 girls to form the very first troop of Girl Scouts. Today, nearly 4 million girls are the beneficiaries of her great initiative. Girl Scouts is the largest organization serving girls in the world, touching the lives of more than 50 million girls and women through the first century of this movement.
Last night in Social Hall, we gathered with a group of 19 Girl Scouts who are still in high school, their mothers and troop leaders, Trinity students who are also Girl Scouts, and professional women who are part of the large support network for Girl Scouts in this region. Jan Verhage, executive director of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital (with 50,000+ girls and 22,000 adult members, the largest Council in the nation) spoke about the vital importance of Girl Scouting in today’s world. The mission of the Girl Scouts is to build “…girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.” I’ve known Jan and her staff for many years, and I know that they live this mission with great enthusiasm, deep commitment and passion every day.
The girls spoke about why being a Girl Scout is important for them — learning many important new skills, developing confidence, having valuable experiences, forming lifelong friendships, and perhaps most important, having a broad network among sister scouts and troop leaders to inspire and support them in their growing years. The spoke about the unique opportunities they have received for networking with women professionals through the Women’s Advisory Board (on which I serve) and Camp CEO (a summer camp experience where some of us on the Women’s Advisory Board share the delights of camping with Girl Scouts).
In these complicated days, with too much bad news out there about the conditions of education or the behaviors of some young women, the Girl Scouts stand out as a remarkable example of the simple fact that girls will respond beautifully when adults care enough to invest time and energy in their development. Girl Scouts make it very cool to wear the uniforms, show off the badges, sell cookies, camp out — and to build their resumes of experience and connections with many innovative programs, travel and adventure, high-level awards and college scholarships. (Trinity is very pleased to offer Girl Scout Scholarships — click on the link to learn more!)
Jan Verhage, her staff and volunteer corps, have devoted their lives to ensuring that thousands of girls in this region will always have extraordinary opportunities to grow strong. Equally remarkable, Jan and her team have also made it possible for thousands of grown women (and a few good men!) to reconnect with their inner Girl Scout, too — even going so far as to entice scores of polished professional women to forsake the four stars of the Four Seasons for a night or two with the girls under the stars at Camp Coles Trip.
On June 9, tens of thousands of Girl Scouts and friends will gather on the National Mall for a sing-along to celebrate the 95th Anniversary. Trinity will be there, because “Girl Power” is our life’s work, too, and we know that the girls and women we educate and celebrate today will be the mothers and leaders of the future generations. We are proud to be associated with the Girl Scouts!