Girl Scouts empowers tomorrow’s leaders

A Girl Scout selling her cookies!
A Girl Scout selling her cookies!

Every year in March, there is a Girl Scout week, which celebrates the Girl Scout organization’s birthday, March 12.

This honors the day that the founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, officially registered the first 18 members in Savannah, Georgia in 1912.

In 1911, when Low had a meeting with the founder of the Boy Scouts, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, which inspired her to create a group of her own but it was to fuel the curiosity of young women and teach them inclusivity, creativity, self-reliance, service and to be outdoors.

Low’s nickname that was given to her was “Daisy” which eventually became the name for the first level that the girls are in, from kindergarten through first grade.

Activities can vary, but usually include camping, making smores, visiting animal shelters or service projects.

Scouts gain awards by doing activities to help the community.

For example, when the Girl Scouts have their annual cookie sale, they are supposed to have a goal that they reach to get prizes like lanyards, charms and pillows.

The higher the packages sold, the more items can vary from gift cards, money or even an electronic device!

Some troops even fundraise money to be able to travel abroad.

Girls are given the chance to branch out from their group by going to Girl Scout Camps that run throughout the summer.

The Girl Scouts organization has continued to flourish and reach out to even more areas, including locally.

Service Unit Manager, Myrtis Haywood, covers the troops located in Hazel Crest, Calumet City, Harvey, Dolton and a few other local areas.

She started as just a troop leader herself and continued to move up to finally take up the position.

¨The service unit needed someone for the job and I’m the type of person that if there is a need, I am there,” Haywood said. “I was one out of many of the troop leaders that had stayed but most left once their daughters had left out of Girl Scouts too.”

She has been in this position since 2017 and she truly enjoys her job.

“I would say the most fun part about doing my job is watching the girls grow. When you run across a good leader, you can watch the girls grow more. There can be a shy girl but because of her leader, she will change over the next few years,” she said.

Some challenges will come to the surface at some point.

“Keeping the service unit and having members that still want to be in Girl Scouts has been the biggest challenge. Mostly in the black community, there isn’t a lot of parent involvement and it has a ripple effect on their kids wanting to participate,” Haywood expressed. “Also, just keeping a steady flow of leaders that want to continue even after their kid moves to the next level.”

Haywood said that pre-pandemic, there were between 15-16 groups still participating in Girl Scouts but that number dropped tremendously after the pandemic, to now five troops.

Girl Scouts is not just all about selling yummy, delicious cookies. There is a lot more effort and hard work put into it.

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