On October 12th, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas held its Real Girls Real Women Awards Luncheon. For those of you who are not familiar with this annual fundraising event, it affords us a wonderful public venue in which to highlight the impact Girl Scouts makes, not only on our girls currently going through the program, but also on women leaders whose Girl Scout experience imparted leadership skills they continue to use. This year, we had the privilege of honoring three dynamic women – Ebby Halliday, Harriet Miers and Becky Sykes – as well as two girls – Haley Ann Avery and Ashton Gepfert. What tales of thoughtful leadership they all have to share!
Each of these remarkable honorees have focused her life on personal principals, ethical behavior and the ability to affect change for the betterment of others. It comes as no surprise that these same qualities are at the forefront of the Girl Scout Leadership Development program and that its emphasis is critical as we develop the future leaders of the 21st century.
Information from the Girl Scout Research Institute tells us that girls aspire to a different model of leadership from the command and control type, preferring instead one driven by altruistic motives and in collaboration with others for the ultimate betterment of their community, their city, or even their world. Critical to the development of these resources are the three Girl Scout processes, as highlighted in Transforming Leadership, and as seen in each of the journeys girls undertake. These three Girl Scout processes are: Girl Led, Learning by Doing, and Cooperative Learning.
Girl Led means that girls of every age take an active and grade-appropriate role in figuring out the what, where, when, why and how of what they do. Learning by Doing is hands-on learning that engages girls in an ongoing cycle of action and reflection. When girls actively participate in meaningful activities and later reflect on them, they get a deeper understanding of concepts and mastery of skills. Cooperative Learning is designed to promote sharing of knowledge, skills, and learning in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation as girls work together on goals that can only be accomplished with the help of others. Working cooperatively in all-girl environments rich in a diversity of talents, abilities, and backgrounds reinforces individual learning, nurtures an appreciation of difference, and encourages girls to feel powerful and safe as they experience a sense of belonging. In short, Opportunity + Experience + Support = New Girl Leaders.
When I think of each of our five Real Girls Real Women honorees, I am reminded of the mission of Girl Scouting, which is to build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. Each of these remarkable girls and women will have a lasting impact on the lives of others. We don’t know how this country, or our world, will look ten, twenty, or fifty years from now, but we’re pretty sure of one thing: it will be a better place because of Girl Scouts.