100 years ago today, Juliette Gordon Low called her cousin and said “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!” She gathered 18 girls that night to form the first Girl Scout troop in the U.S.

Today, the Girl Scouts of the USA has a membership of over 3.2 million girls and adults. And, nearly 60 million American women, including me, are Girl Scout alumnae — once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.

A few weeks ago I read an article in Fast Company about Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, and the innovative ideas the Girl Scouts have introduced – ideas I’ll return to in a future post. This new PSA video, The Best in Me, is really what got me excited again about the Girl Scouts. Go watch it and come back.

Girl power!

The videos are part of a campaign, To Get Her There, designed to “focus national attention on girls and the issues they face.” The multi-year advocacy and fundraising effort “will seek to create balanced leadership — the equal representation of women in leadership positions in all sectors and levels of society — within one generation.”

Chavez says: “Girls represent an incredible resource for our country and Girl Scouts has always provided them a platform for success, and during our centennial we want everyone—men and women alike—to join us in making sure that every girl achieves her full leadership potential.”

As one of my friends said today on Twitter, Girl Scouts is about more than selling cookies. That’s right, it’s about skill development, community service and, most importantly, leadership. I had my first leadership experiences in Girl Scouts. My fondest Girl Scout memory is being a patrol leader in Cadettes.

My Cadette troop leader, Rachel Hardin, was awesome. A middle school science teacher, she was also a rugged outdoorswoman who taught us how to light fires without matches, lash together log sleds and a bunch of other survival skills. We camped all through the year, even on snow during the Boy Scout-Girl Scout winter jamborees. We didn’t do everything by the official rulebook, as a matter of fact, I never even bought the Cadette handbook, but those leadership skills were embedded in me. Just don’t ask me to lash together a sled.

Support your local Girl Scouts. Stop at that table outside the supermarket and buy a few boxes of cookies. Encourage young girls to join a local troop — help them become our future leaders.

A few of the many badges not sewn on my sash because our Cadette troop didn't wear uniforms. Rebels and leaders!


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