Personal Experience – 8 years as Girl Scout I was a Girl Scout for eight years and it was the most informative and creative 8 years I have known. Being a Girl Scout I learned to embrace the Girl Scouts’ mission which is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Being a Girl Scout for me meant stepping out of my comfort zone and helping others. It meant doing things for people other than myself and feeling good about it. Plus, I got to do a lot of fun exciting things like camping, visiting museums and senior centers. Girl Scouts was about making new friends, creating amazing memories, and helping the community. It’s about different girls working together to try and better the environment around them, as well as better themselves along the way.Girl Scouts has been a huge part of my life and my development. Since 1912, girls have explored new fields of knowledge, learned valuable skills, and developed strong core values through Girl Scouts. Today Girl Scouts is, as it always has been, the organization best positioned to help girls develop important leadership skills needed to become successful adults. Being a Girl Scout I was able to build a strong sense of self. I gained the confidence in myself and my abilities and form a positive identity. Also I was taught to act ethically, honestly, and responsibly, and show concern for others. I learned how not to be afraid to take appropriate risks and to try things even if I failed, and learned from my mistakes. I learned how to contribute to the world in purposeful and meaningful ways and how to identify problems in the community and create action plans to solve them. I had so many great experiences as a Girl Scout. I learned new things, earned badges, explored new places, and made a lot of friends. My favorite thing to do when I was a Girl Scout was the “Friendship Circle”. The Friendship Circle represented the unbroken chain of friendship among Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world, the Friendship Circle involved the Girl Scouts standing in a circle, crossing their right arm over their left, and clasping hands with their friends on both sides. Everyone then makes a silent wish as a friendship squeeze is passed from hand to hand around the circle. The only problem I saw with being a Girl Scout was that society only saw us as young girls selling cookies, singing campfire songs, and wearing vests. Girl Scouts was so much more than that to me. Because I so much enjoyed being a Girl Scout, it saddens me to read about all the controversy that has been going on with the Council.Social Issues of Girl ScoutsThere are a lot of social issues involving the Girl Scouts of the USA. They have been accused of being a member of Planned Parenthood and teaching young girls about birth control and abortions. Society is bashing the Girl Scouts of USA for accepting a transgender girl as a member (Hetter, 2015). This is because the Girl Scouts are an all-inclusive organization that welcomes all girls. They are also coming under fire because of their ties to Mattel and Barbie (Flam, 2014). Consumer groups have been pushing back at the Girl Scout of USA ever since it was announced that the new Barbie doll will be sporting a Girl Scout uniform in 2013. The felt that holding Barbie up as a role model for the Girl Scouts sexualizes young girls, idealizes an impossible body type, and undermines the Girl Scouts’ vital mission which is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character (Schmitz, 2014). I don’t really see a problem here, little girls have always played with Barbie dolls and if the Girl Scouts can use that knowledge to help the girls “be anything, do everything” (Flam, 2014), and help them to become ready for the working world, what is the harm?For decades, the Girl Scouts have been subject to criticism for what some take to be the organizations liberal position on sexuality, birth control and abortion and for its promotion of the work of pro-choice feminists like Betty Friedan, Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem (Donnellan, 2017). Also, the Catholic Church has judged the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. suspiciously, claiming the organization is involved with groups such as Planned Parenthood and stating that the Girl Scouts are in conflict with the faith’s views on abortion and the family (Schmidt, 2017). These allegations have been staunchly denied by the Girl Scouts organization, but the controversies are largely rooted in misinformation and have prompted dioceses to cut ties with the Scouts (Kennedy, 2017). Because of this, the Catholic churches are ending their relationship with the Girl Scouts and transitioning its support to a Christian-based scouting group called American Heritage Girls (Cleveland, 2017). The Archdiocese is making this move because of a perceived notion that the Girl Scouts’ programs and materials are reflective of many of the troubling times in this secular culture, and that the Girl Scout organization is no longer a good partner in helping them to form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel (Kennedy, 2017). I really find these accusations very strange, because on the Girl Scouts USA website they are boasting about their relationship with the Catholic churches have had a relationship for well over a 100 years (GSUSA, 2017). Another thing, that’s on their website is that of the organization’s 3.2 million members, which include scouts and volunteers, 500,000 were Catholics. But all of a sudden that relationship is not good enough for the church. Catholic priests of the Archdiocese stated that what the Girl Scouts of USA is teaching the girls does not coincide with the virtues they are teaching the young girls in their churches (Donnellan, 2017). Nevertheless, the Girl Scout culture is based on the group’s promise: “On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country.” As a Girl Scout, we were taught that God, faith and spirituality is the backbone and history of the organization. Like I stated earlier, I had been a Girl Scout for well over 8 years and we weren’t ever taught anything about Planned Parenthood or anything of a personal nature and I don’t recall hearing anything from the Girl Scout Council about being a member of Planned Parenthood. The Girl Scout Council of USA and other Girl Scout organization have stated that they have not had an association with Planned Parenthood and have not received any funding from the organization (Girl Scout USA, 2017). The Girl Scouts of America have also been accused of submitting brochures advocating Planned Parenthood, which they have continued to deny. Impact on Girl Scouts USAThese type thinking has put the Girl Scouts organization at risk of losing members and funding. People wait every year for the famous Girl Scout cookies to go on sale, but because of the controversies surrounding the Girl Scouts, activists have been using social media campaign to boycott cookie sales (Schmidt, 2017). Doing that time they were under pressure from the parents, Catholic parishes began disassociating with the Girl Scouts, disbanding troops, refusing to let the troops that were already their continue to use the parish space allotted to them for meetings, and banning all cookie sales in Catholic parishes (Donnellan, 2017). This, to me, is a clear case of being guilty by association. This information is very frustrating for the Council, but it is not letting it stop them from continuing on with the type of work they are doing in helping the Girl Scouts to become well rounded individuals. I’m really finding this madness about the Girl Scouts hard to believe. It is very troubling that an organization, that is all about helping girls, become strong and innovative has so much controversy surrounding them. Even though there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Girl Scouts of the USA they are basically a good organization for girls to be involved in. The Girl Scout Council is heavily involved with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). They are helping girls to excel in the chosen fields. In fact, according to an article in the St. Louis-Dispatch, in 2016, the Girl Scouts raised $93,000 that was then matched by the Berges Family Foundation, which supports regional programs that facilitate cultural engagement, youth empowerment, and preparedness in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (Cambria, 2016). Just to show that the Girl Scouts USA is still all about people, according to their website, they have lifted the ban that they had placed on fundraisers just so the girls could do a fundraiser to raise money to aid in the recovery efforts of people the was affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Jose, and the California fires. Various Girl Scout troops have been doing fundraisers in order to aid the people who were affected by the hurricanes that hit their particular areas. Like all organizations, you will find some bad apples, but you just can’t judge the whole crate just by a few. ConclusionGirl Scouts’ program resources are stepping stones that lead groups into adventures big and small. Girl scouting stretches you. I found myself doing things I never imagined. Beyond all the adventure, life lessons and lifelong friendships, and great memories, Girl Scouts is important because girls need a place to be girls, to develop to their full potential, including through building strong leadership skills, without the social pressures that can come from being around boys. In Girl Scouts, girls have the freedom to be silly, to be strong and speak their minds, and to experiment with decision making and taking responsibility for their choices. Being in Girl Scouts helped me to develop the self-confidence to grow into effective, courageous, and responsible adult. As a Girl Scouts, I found a sense of empowerment, along with discovering the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. The Leaders helped us to grow courageous and strong through a wide variety of enriching experiences, such as field trips, skill-building sports clinics, community service projects, cultural exchanges, and environmental stewardships. Girl Scouts helped me to develop my full individual potential; relate to others with increasing understanding, skill, and respect; developed values that guided my actions and provided the foundation for sound decision making; and contributed to the improvement of society through my abilities, leadership skills, and cooperation with others. I can truly say that for me Girl Scouting really made the difference. Girl Scouting offered me the best leadership development experience for girls in the world. Girl Scouts unleashed the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) in me, prepared me for a lifetime of leadership, from taking a night-time hike under the stars from starting my own business today to tackling cybersecurity tomorrow.
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