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Being girls-only is a key part of what makes Girl Scouts a success: Ellen Kyzer

Posted 11/1/17

If I could name only one thing that girls learn when they’re involved with Girl Scouts, it’s that they become capable of tackling pretty much anything. From building robotic hands to …

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Being girls-only is a key part of what makes Girl Scouts a success: Ellen Kyzer

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If I could name only one thing that girls learn when they’re involved with Girl Scouts, it’s that they become capable of tackling pretty much anything. From building robotic hands to creating libraries that teach new immigrants how to read English, our girls have done amazing things for more than 100 years. With the right encouragement, guidance, training and confidence, they grow into women who lead by example to do great things for the world.

At Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, we have always known that girls are the key to our collective future. Gender balance in the workplace and in the public sphere are vital to ensuring that every voice is heard and every outlook is considered. To us, there’s no mystery why corporate boards with more gender balance outperform male-dominated boards. 

One of the best things we can do to ensure the long-term strength of the United States is to invest in girls. Women bring an invaluable perspective to the courtroom, the classroom, and the caucus room.

Girl Scouts is the best leadership experience for girls in the world, created specifically with and for girls. Our secret sauce? The Girl Scout Leadership Experience — a one-of-a-kind leadership development program that pairs girls with strong female role models and mentors who help each girl develop her potential. 

At Girl Scouts, girls find a safe space where they are free to just be themselves without the pressures and social anxieties that can come from a mixed-gender environment. Our leadership model is designed to meet their interests and needs because it’s collaborative and places importance on a diversity of perspectives.

Girl Scouts helps girls unlock their potential and unleash it in their communities throughout the globe. Because we’re the world’s largest leadership development organization for girls, and we welcome girls of all backgrounds and interests who want to develop the courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place. 

Our program bolsters the benefits of school by fostering a safe, inclusive, girl-led, and all-female environment where girls are free to practice different skills, try new things, and take on leadership positions. In fact, the all-girl environment is one of the major keys to our success. Research shows that girls learn best in an all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment where their specific needs are addressed and met.

Girl Scouts provides a place for girls to support and encourage one another in a pressure-free environment without boys. Our leaders, camp counselors, and volunteers are all thoroughly vetted, and although moms, dads, brothers, and sisters are all welcome, the focus is always on girls. The girl-only, girl-defined, and girl-led aspects of Girl Scouts are crucial to what we offer, particularly for girls who don’t have access to single-gender environments offered in the private school system. 

The fact is, most of a girl’s life is coed, making the safe space that Girl Scouts offers imperative for nurturing collaboration instead of competition and receiving support from other girls. With this encouragement, they’ll stretch beyond their limits and transfer knowledge, experiences and skills to any environment, now and in the future.

The options for fun, exploration, and leadership are endless. Girls can participate in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, canoeing and archery to have exciting, girl-led adventures while learning important life skills. At Girl Scouts, we ensure that every girl has an opportunity to take the lead in the world of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through hands-on learning by doing. 

Our iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program is unrivaled in its ability to teach girls financial literacy skills for today and tomorrow. Additionally, one-of-a-kind civic engagement programming gives girls the chance to take the lead on issues they care about in their communities and be recognized by their peers and neighbors as the societal champions they are.

And, of course, only Girl Scouts gives girls the chance to pursue the most challenging, rewarding and life-changing award for girls in the world: the Girl Scout Gold Award. Earned by fewer than 6 percent of Girl Scouts annually, the Gold Award requires girls to demonstrate their leadership skills by addressing a local or global community issue. Girls typically spend one to two years on their project and must establish sustainability that benefits the chosen community in the long term. Girls’ projects range from ones that address poverty to illiteracy to environmentalism. These remarkable young women are essentially the finished product that Girl Scouts offers the world.

Additionally, each year, Girl Scouts chooses from among an elite group of ten Gold Award Girl Scouts to qualify for the prestigious National Young Women of Distinction Award. A National Young Woman of Distinction is a special honor that recognizes those whose final Gold Award projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, had a considerable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national or global issue.

Through vigorous, interactive programs, Girl Scouts take the lead in a range of activities as they learn more about themselves, their peers, and the world around them. With more than a century of experience, Girl Scouts brings a wealth of knowledge to programs that provide cornerstone experiences for girls that last a lifetime. Put simply, Girl Scouts works.

Ellen M. Kyzer is president and CEO of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania.