Girl Scouts–It’s Not Just About Cookies
Over a century ago in Savannah, Georgia, a dream became a reality when Juliette Gordon-Low founded Girl Scouts with a troop of 18 girls. One hundred and eleven years later, Girl Scouts of the USA has grown into the biggest leadership organization for girls in the world.
Presently there are about 2.5 million girls and adult Girl Scout members worldwide. The first registered troop in Arizona began in 1918 in Ajo, Arizona. Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona was established in 1935 and has over 5,000 girl members and over 2,200 adult volunteer members.
Girl Scouts is open to any girl in grades K–12 allowing them to learn leadership, make new friends, build courage, confidence and character while enjoying outdoor activities, camping, participating in STEM and STEAM projects, serving their community and helping make the world a better place. There are six levels of Girl Scouts broken into grade levels: Daisies, grades K–1, Brownies, grades 2–3, Juniors, grades 4–5, Cadettes, grades 6–8, Seniors, grades 9–10, and Ambassadors, grades 11–12.
Girl Scouts earn badges, complete journeys and from the Junior level on up they can earn Girl Scouts’ highest awards: the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. A program for girls in grades 7–12 is GS adVENTUREs. Kristen Garcia-Hernandez, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, explained GS adVENTUREs is an entrepreneurship for the Khaki Crew to start their own business. They create a business plan, learn budgeting and marketing, make business pitches and learn from local mentors and business owners. “We are seeing great success in this program from the young female generation who might someday run their own business,” says Garcia-Hernandez.
The Khaki Crew consists of girls in grades 6–12 and gets the name from the color of their vest during those years. Girls in middle school can participate in a camp called Catching Fury. This is a one-day camp where girls learn first responder skills. The camp is taught by female firefighters, police officers and EMTs. During Catching Fury girls dress up in fire gear, learn to use a fire hose, learn self-defense and even rappel off a one-story building. Camp Fury is for high school Girl Scouts. This is a five-day, four-night camp where girls learn more advanced training, climb a 110-foot ladder truck, learn crime scene investigation, search and rescue, rappel off a six-story building and at the end there is a graduation ceremony. Camp Fury began in 2009 in Tucson and was created by retired Mountain Vista Fire Chief Cheryl Horvath and retired Tucson Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief, Laura Baker. “We have a beautiful partnership with agencies and volunteer staff at Camp Fury. Girls in camp receive one on one instruction from the volunteers,” says Garcia-Hernandez.
A program that has resumed after the pandemic is Girl Scouts Beyond Bars. GSBB brings together mothers who are incarcerated and their daughters for Girl Scout meetings twice a month at the Perryville Prison. GSBB was started in 1994 with a partnership between GSACPC and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. In 2010 Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona joined the program making it a statewide effort to keep Girl Scouts united with their incarcerated mothers. “This is an incredible program for girls in the same situation to attend meetings with their mothers,” says Garcia-Hernandez.
Now let’s talk cookies. Did you know that the Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led business in the world? Girl Scouts learn five skills while selling cookies that EXEMPLIFY good business practices. Goal Setting, Decision Making, Money Management, People Skills and Business Ethics are skills that guide girls to leadership, confidence building and success. The 2024 Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona cookie season will take place Jan. 20–March 10, 2024. Unlike councils in other states, the price of cookies will not increase in the state of Arizona.
Girl Scouts–Info to Know
• Bring Home The Cookies 5K race/walk will take place on Feb. 24, 2024. Registration begins on Nov. 1, 2023.
• Cookie Season: Jan.15–Feb. 25, 2024
• Summer Camp Registration: opens Jan. 2, 2024
GIRL SCOUT FUN FACTS:
• Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon-Low will be featured on the American Woman Quarters in 2025.
• When you hear a Girl Scout talking about or giving you a SWAPS–SWAPS stands for “Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere.”
Founder’s Day: Oct. 31 (The Girl Scout founder was born on this day.)
World Thinking Day: Feb. 22
Girl Scouts’ Birthday: March 12
Famous Girl Scouts:
Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift, Gabrielle Giffords, Reese Witherspoon, Venus & Serena Williams, Michelle Obama
Depending on their age or grade level, boys and girls can join Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA, too!
The Boy Scouts of America has more than a million young people and has taken steps to be more inclusive over the past few years. Starting in 2018, both boys and girls in kindergarten up through fifth grade could join Cub Scouts. And a year later, boys and girls ages 11–17 could join Scouts BSA, learning to become leaders as they earn merit badges on their journey to becoming Eagle Scouts!
Promising adventures, teaching you important, sometimes life-saving skills, building character while making friends and having fun, Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA have a lot to offer.
“One of our biggest initiatives nationally is to have an environment that’s INCLUSIVE and reflective of the community we serve,” explains Shannon Roberts, the new BSA Scout Executive and CEO of the Catalina Council, which serves Southern Arizona. “So that means inclusive of both young men and women—young boys and young girls—to really be a part of our culture.”
Stepping into his new position, Roberts realized how “Boy Scouts is a really important part of the community—I don’t think that it gets the credit or the recognition that it deserves.” So a major focus is to revitalize its role here “and work hard to get us back to being a strong pillar in the community,” he explains.
Boy Scouts of America started more than a century ago in New York in 1910. Not surprisingly, in this age of technology and social media, the young people of today are quite different than the kids who joined Scouts long ago.
Roberts says Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA have something that should appeal to boys and girls these days. “I think they have to look forward to what I like to say is an exciting and engaging experience. It starts with Cub Scouts and all the way up through Webelos and then Scouts BSA,” he explains. “We really teach people survival skills, teach them how to be productive citizens of our community, but we do that through fun and experiential learning. So while you’re obtaining these values to be productive citizens of our society, you’re having fun at the same time!”
Kids as young as 5 can join Cub Scouts any time of the year. The youngest start at Lion, the next grade is Tiger, then Wolf, then Bear, followed by Webelos, which is for fourth- and fifth-graders.
Family togetherness and fun is also something that having brothers and sisters in the ranks makes possible. Roberts wants Packs and Troops to make sure that parents participate in the overall experience.
“With Cub Scouts, one parent is required to participate. We like for parents to help facilitate activities, whether it’s an adventure going out on a hike or putting together one of the merit badges. And that’s the same for Scouts BSA. We need volunteers to help with holding of official positions within the Troops or the Packs. There are countless opportunities for them to get involved. It’s a necessary thing!”
So if you want to go on adventures and learn all sorts of life skills including setting and reaching goals (who knows? You could even be an Eagle Scout someday), maybe Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA is for you! You and your parent can check things out and find a Pack or Troop near you by visiting CatalinaCouncil.org.
The Scout Oath
On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
A Scout Is…