Girl Scouts Celebrates Historic Milestone

One hundred years in the making, Girl Scouts continues to take strides with its innovative ToGetHerThere campaign and the launch of a new camp.

For 100 years, Girl Scouts has done more than any other organization to provide leadership opportunities for girls. On March 12, 1912, Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low assembled 18 girls from Savannah, Georgia, for a local Girl Scout meeting. She believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally and spiritually. Within a few years, Low’s dream for a girl-centered organization was realized. Today, Girl Scouts of the USA has a membership of over 3.2 million girls and adults, a significant growth from its modest beginnings nearly a century ago. In fact, more than 50 million women in the U.S. today are Girl Scout alumnae.

Locally, Girl Scouts of Central Illinois serves more than 20,000 girls and 5,000 adults annually throughout 38 counties in central Illinois. The organization is headquartered in Springfield and has service center locations in Bloomington, Champaign, Decatur, Peoria, Peru and Quincy. The organization is recognizing the 100th anniversary all year long with several local celebrations, the largest of which was Girl Scout Day at the Capitol on May 4th. Over 2,700 participants from across the state gathered at the state’s Capitol building for a daylong celebration, including a parade through downtown Springfield and a rally on the Capitol steps. Girl Scouts also joined hands for a friendship circle, lent their voices to a Girl Scout sing-along, and wrapped up the day with a birthday celebration.

As Girl Scouts celebrates a century of leadership, fun and friendship, the organization is setting out to ensure that every girl has the opportunity to reach her fullest leadership potential. Today’s girls experience a world much different than those first 18 Girl Scouts, and Girl Scouts of the USA has launched the ToGetHerThere campaign to address the leadership issues they face.

Recent research indicates that today’s girls want to lead but are often challenged by peer pressure, lack of mentors and bullying. Girls are backing down from their aspirations. They’re opting out of activities they once loved. Some of them are even shying away from raising their hands in class. Research provides a glimpse at the problem:

While women make up half of the U.S. population, they represent just three percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and 17 percent of Congress (The White House Project Report: Benchmarking Women’s Leadership, 2009).

Nearly 40 percent of girls report they have been put down, usually by peers and classmates, when they’ve tried to lead. This negative influence of peers feeds girls’ fears of being laughed at, making people mad at them, coming across as bossy and not being liked by people (Change It Up! What Girls Think About Leadership, Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008).

Only one in five girls believes she has what it takes to lead. Girls highly idealize leadership qualities and skills (e.g., being talented, caring, honest, hardworking, confident, a good listener, team player, etc.), but only 21 percent believe they have most of the qualities required to be a good leader (Change It Up! What Girls Think About Leadership, Girl Scout Research Institute, 2008).

“Girls today are in greater need than ever of the kind of belonging Girl Scouts offers—an environment where their unique skills and interests are supported and encouraged as they become tomorrow’s leaders,” states Pam Kovacevich, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Illinois. “We’re asking all members of our communities to play a role to help girls reach their leadership potential.”

The multi-year effort of the ToGetHerThere campaign helps break down societal barriers that hinder girls from leading and achieving success in everything from technology and science to business and industry.

Locally, Girl Scouts of Central Illinois is taking steps to ensure a bright future for today’s girls. The council has analyzed its resources and listened to the needs of its girl members. As a result, the organization has launched a capital campaign to provide first-rate 21stcentury facilities for the 21st-century girls it serves. The campaign will provide for the creation of Camp WOW, a destination camp at the organization’s current camp in Metamora, Camp Tapawingo. Camp WOW will provide the programmatic capacity to attract girls of all ages from across the state and will cater to the progressive outdoor experience, from pack-out primitive camp to modern conference center accommodations. The camp may include an aquatic center, high and low ropes course, environmental education center, archery and other elements. An equestrian center is near completion to offer a high-quality learning experience for our members.

Girl Scouts of Central Illinois believes that every girl deserves the opportunity to be the leader she wants to be and that society needs her to be. We invite you to join us in making a promise: that every girl will have the opportunities and tools she needs to reach her fullest potential.

To learn more about Camp WOW and other programs, or for more information on how you can get involved, call (877) 231-1446, email Kate Peters at kpeters@girlscouts-gsci.org or visit www.girlscouts-gsci.org

Erica Douglas
Public Relations/Advertising Specialist

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About gsci

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.
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