As the leaves are starting to change, kids are settling back into the school routine. Educational opportunity helps our children grow into successful adults who will have a positive impact in the world, but it’s not all about math and reading skills. Equally important are the qualities that children develop outside the classroom — including courage, confidence, and character, and a commitment to making the world a better place.
These are the hallmarks of the Girl Scouts. I want to highlight the work of this incredible organization because it is a great example of how we can invest in our future through our children. The Girl Scouts is the largest educational organization for girls in the world, with 3.7 million members, and 59 million girls and adults who have belonged to it. Here in Penobscot County, there are more than 1,400 girl members (approximately 13% of available girls in grades K-12) and nearly 450 adult members. In fact, I was a Girl Scout myself!
The Girl Scout’s mission is to help girls realize their potential so they become the greatest version of themselves. This is an incredibly powerful message, because it helps girls realize that all they have to do is look inside to find the tools they need to succeed. The lessons I learned as a Brownie and a Girl Scout are an important part of who I am, and the experience made a huge difference for me as I developed into a leader.
Everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Girls and young women often receive negative messages from our culture and the media that can hurt their self-image, encourage them to worry about their appearance, or suggest that certain activities or careers are off-limits. Girls need to know that they can do and be anything they want to be.
All it takes is one positive achievement, one example of how they can succeed when they work hard and dedicate themselves to something they care about, and girls are empowered to keep reaching for the stars. When girls work on a project, raise money, or serve their community, they learn and grow in amazing ways. According to a Girl Scout Research report, women who were Girl Scouts in their youth are more likely to earn advanced degrees, have higher incomes, and be satisfied with their lives.
Of course, I hope that knocking on doors to sell Girl Scout cookies inspires Maine girls to knock on doors for a different reason a few years from now – because they are running for public office! But we don’t just need more women leaders in politics. We need women leaders in every field, and we need leaders who understand the importance and the joy found in giving back to the community. The Girl Scouts fosters a lifelong commitment to community service that has a multiplying effect, and strong, independent-minded, community-spirited girls can unleash an incredible amount of good into the world.
Girl Scouts fosters doers, creators, and high-achievers. And as The Girl Scout Law says: “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”