By Kaite Sobiech
Beginning in 1912 and still going strong, Girl Scouts of America is one of the most popular organizations in the U.S. for young girls. Although they are often known for their famous cookies, their vision is much bigger. It is about empowering young women for success.
The local Girl Scouts Headquarters, located on White Pond drive in Akron, is a place where both mothers and daughters who are passionate about the program can be found. Not only is it a meeting place for troops, but activities such as craft shows and other fun events are held there for the girls.
In this council alone, there are a total of 4,000 troops, consisting of 45,000 girls. The eighteen county region has over 15,000 volunteers. Their hope is for that number to keep growing.
Marcelyn Woodard, the Director of Marketing, smiles whenever talking about her memories of being a scout. “It really had a positive affect on my growing up,” she said, “the core values, the leadership training, the ability to work well with people; the Girl Scouts provided that. They teach you to think critically about your decisions and to have a concern for the community. It establishes the foundation for women to live out their dreams.”
Principles to Live By
The Girl Scouts provide young girls with experiences through a variety of different vehicles, focusing on five principles, which include: the arts and sciences, life skills, literacy, community, civic, and outdoor education.
Dr. Daisy L. Alford-Smith, C.E.O. of Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, explained, “We want them to know that they can become a scientist, astronaut, math teacher…or whatever they would like to be, and encourage them not shy away from that.”
The girls are taken on a variety of field trips. “We have taken them to the Federal Reserve Bank for example, teaching them financial literacy,” Smith explained, “these initiatives and activities allow the young girls to discover and take action in one way or another, bringing the experiences to life.”
They teach the girls the importance of actively contributing to their communities as well. “When a young girl is involved in civic and community initiatives they learn by giving, that giving is rewarding,” Smith said.
The Girl Scout movement is currently undergoing some major changes. Realizing that they had not provided services to a diverse population according to their needs, they’ve decided to re-brand and realign themselves.
“The national office did some introspective thinking and acted on it,” Smith explained, ”they wanted to know ‘are we really impacting girls in a way that we should?’”
The outcome of various focus groups and sessions clearly showed that they are the only organization in this nation that has the ability to reach girls as they do.
Smith explained that they’ve recently begun looking for girls in the inner city. “We’ve been working with a group in Cleveland called ‘Girl Scouts Beyond Bars’. This is something new on the horizon.”
As for their vision for the future, Smith has a desire to reach an even greater number of girls. They also hope to continue serving a diverse mix of girls.
“We have served in schools and juvenile detention centers – we serve everywhere,” Smith explained.
“Being a Girl Scout is an extremely rewarding experience. The positive life skills I developed through my scouting years have shaped me into the woman I am today. As an adult, I am thankful that I can now reach out and give back to the Girl Scout movement.” – Michelle Brugmann, Membership Development Specialist at the Girl Scouts of America Headquarters
“My daughter loves it! We’re pushing to try to get our groups to meet more often.” – Sandy Kraus, troop leader from Lippmon
Phone: (330) 864-9933
Address: 345 White Pond Dr – Akron, OH 44320