2012 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Girl Scouts. Many events are taking place to celebrate this grant moment, and last Sunday, I had the honor of participating in a great event for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. More than 200 Girl Scouts and their families gathered in the Trinity Center for the annual “In Your Honor” ceremony that salutes the Gold Award Girl Scouts and those who have earned the Silver Trefoil Award. The Nation’s Capital Council is the only Girl Scout Council in the country with more than 200 Gold and Silver Award winners for five years in a row!
These accomplished and poised young women are our great hope for the future. When we see the many challenges that teenage girls must overcome today, it’s simply amazing to realize that the Girl Scouts continue to achieve huge success channeling the creative genius of girls in so many positive ways. Consider just this small sample of the several hundred Gold Award projects:
- One Girl Scout converted a vacant property at her Church into a safe, temporary home for displaced families;
- Another Girl Scout planned and hosted a day camp for girls with Down Syndrome;
- A Girl Scout in Virginia organized an effort to gather prom dresses for girls who could not afford them;
- Another Girl Scout created a pen pal program between students in her high school and teens at a children’s shelter in Malaysia;
- Another Girl Scout created a workshop to educate parents about teen depression;
- Many Girl Scouts created projects focused on the environment: building duck boxes, cleaning trails, educating the public about sustainable gardening.
Trinity and the Girl Scouts have been great partners for many years. More than 90 Trinity students have received Girl Scout Scholarships since we began that program in 2002, and this year 41 Girl Scout Scholars are enrolled at Trinity. Through the Girl Scout Scholars program, Gold Award girls receive $5,000 Trinity scholarships, Silver girls get $4,000, and all other Girl Scouts earn $3,000 awards; all awards are renewable annually while the student is enrolled at Trinity.
As part of the Girl Scout Centennial celebration this year, Trinity is now creating special Girl Scout Centennial Scholarships to recognize the highest achieving Gold and Silver Award winners. For Gold and Silver Award winners enrolling at Trinity in Fall 2012, who have high school grade point averages of 3.5 or higher and who demonstrate the qualities of service, leadership and commitment to the principles of honor and integrity, Trinity will double the value of their Girl Scout Scholarships, making the Centennial Gold Award Scholarship worth $10,000, and the Centennial Silver Award Scholarship worth $8,000. These scholarships may be supplemented by other Trinity grants, federal and state financial aid, and other outside awards.
Following is an excerpt from the remarks I made at the “In Your Honor” celebration:
Congratulations to all of the Girl Scout Gold and Silver Award winners we honor today! You represent the pinnacle of excellence in Girl Scouting. This year, we celebrate the amazing first century of Girl Scouts with many ceremonies and tributes, and of course, the most important event, “Rock the Mall” in June. We will sing together and show the world that, yes, even in this day and age — and because of the many challenges of this day and age — the public affirmation of “girl power” and the values of the Girl Scouts are relevant, enduring and urgent.
… The achievements of Girl Scouts in the 20th Century made so much opportunity for women possible. Girl Scouts helped to change the horizons for all girls and women in this nation and around the world: 80% of women business owners, 69% of the women in Congress, every female Secretary of State, more than 50 million women today — all Girl Scouts demonstrating that “girl power” really can change the world for the better.
… Girl Scout Sally Ride was the first woman astronaut, and Kathryn D. Sullivan was among the original women astronauts at NASA, the first woman to walk in space. Other Girl Scouts made history in other ways: Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman on the Supreme Court; Katie Couric was the first woman to anchor the CBS evening news; Madeleine Albright was the first woman Secretary of State. The list goes on and on.
But the past is simply the prologue to the future you will create for the girls who come after you: who among you, the gold and silver Girl Scouts in this room, will make history to inspire the world for generations to come? Who among you will be founders of new businesses, members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, maybe the first woman to walk on Mars or the first woman president of the United States? If we believe we can walk on Mars, we must believe we can move into the Oval Office!
The 100th Anniversary of the Girl Scouts is a time to look back with pride, but more importantly, to look forward with ambition and conviction. What are the values that you must take with you into that future in order to make a real difference in your schools and communities, places of work and corporations, legislatures and executive agencies, in both private and public arenas? Let me address just three today:
First, the value of your creative spirit for the intelligent development of real solutions to thorny problems: that’s precisely what you have had to do to earn your Gold and silver awards. Your creativity can only flourish through the value of hard work — the hard work of learning as much as you can about the problems you must solve, and acquiring the skills necessary to create the details of the solutions. That’s what a great college education will teach you to do, to bring your creative genius to bear more urgently on the analysis of problems and development of solutions for the great issues of every age.
Girl Scouts in the decades to come can and must use their creative genius to forge solutions to improve our economy, build stronger and more durable businesses that can employ more people, improve the quality and consistency of public education, and find real solutions for the long-term healthcare needs and costs of a society whose lifespan is growing rapidly while its resources are growing thinner. Think of this: at a conference the other day I heard someone say that the baby is already born who will live to 150 years. What does that tell us about the kind of creative economic and social thinking we need in the future, your future?
Second, the value of strong and trusting relationships: friends for life — isn’t that the best part of Girl Scouts? Over the years, your web of friends grows and joins something that we women in business fondly call “the old girls’ network” through which we help and encourage each other in so many ways — for business, for families, for personal and professional growth.
We hear a lot these days about the problem of alienation among young people, social isolation, a pervasive sense of disconnection from the needs of the community. A Girl Scout is never alone, wherever she is in the world, her sister scouts are all around her. And we need Girl Scouts to lift up the community values you represent to call this society back to a shared sense of responsibility for our collective future. We need Girl Scouts of all ages, in all positions of leadership and influence, to say to our families and communities and fellow citizens: let’s stop the bitterly divisive rhetoric, the ugly morass of accusation and suspicion that has infected too many places in our society — especially places where we need effective decision-making for the good of everyone.
Third, the value of a strong ethical commitment to honesty and service to the community: if you take nothing else from your Girl Scout days it must be this: you must never cut corners on honesty and integrity, you must make the idea of ethical living a central part of your life each day. And one of the best ways to exercise the muscle of ethics is to be of service to others in need, because as you share your time and talent with others, you will realize two things: the utter waste of selfish preoccupations which are the root of most dishonesty; and the complete joy that comes from sharing the best of yourself with others who grow through your work, which is more reward than you might ever have desired. We need Girl Scouts to remind all of us of the social imperative of ethical living, the joy of service, and the hope that the selfless act of kindness can rekindle in other souls.
Congratulations to all Girl Scouts on the 100th Anniversary!