Guest Opinions

Sure, our new competitor knows scouting. But Girl Scouts know how to help girls.

Holli Woodings with daughter Mary learning archery at the July 2017 Girls Weekend at Camp Alice Pittenger at Payette Lake.
Holli Woodings with daughter Mary learning archery at the July 2017 Girls Weekend at Camp Alice Pittenger at Payette Lake. Provided by Holli Woodings

Girl Scouts of the United States of America is the expert at developing women leaders for 106 years and counting, and our mission – to develop girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place – is more relevant than ever. Our local council, Girl Scouts of Silver Sage, serves thousands of girls and volunteers across southern Idaho, eastern Oregon and northern Nevada.

And you might have heard we have a new competitor.

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Does that competitor know scouting? Well, yes… but do they know girls? Girl Scouts has girl-centric knowledge and expertise, including in-depth research on the positive benefits of an all-girl environment. Girls are more likely to try something new in the outdoors, in STEM (science, technology, math, engineering) and in leadership roles in a single-gender environment. Through Girl Scouts, girls develop important skills including critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration – all of which boost their success in school and careers.

Does that competitor know outdoors? Well, yes… but Girl Scouts actually provides more outdoor opportunities for girls to earn badges, with 45 outdoor badges and myriad outdoor activities, including rock climbing, kayaking and archery. Paired with dozens of outdoor opportunities offered by local partners such as North Face, Idaho Parks and Recreation, the BLM and Boise National Forest, our outdoor adventures are unbeatable. Then we have camps – Camp Ta-Man-A-Wis in the Tetons and Camp Alice Pittenger on the shores of Payette Lake – where girls thrive in the great Idaho outdoors.

Does that competitor know entrepreneurship? Not like a Girl Scout! Through participation in our cookie program, entrepreneurs as young as 5 learn to run their own business. They earn badges for setting goals, managing money, taking safety precautions and following through with customers. Their business proceeds help them go to camp, travel to destinations overseas, contribute to other local nonprofits and more.

Does that competitor know the challenge of remaining relevant in a world of sports, music and other activities competing for families’ time? Yes, and so do we. However, our biggest challenge isn’t recruiting more girls – it’s recruiting the volunteers who will lead troops, take girls on the adventures they crave and be supportive adults key to the Girl Scout experience. With more adult volunteers, we could move girls off waiting lists and into troops, where they can learn, lead and serve their communities.

Empowering each girl to reach her potential is the central focus of our organization. We give girls the environment they need to grow and thrive. Since our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, started the first Girl Scout troops in her Savannah, Georgia, garage 106 years ago, Girl Scouts has been the leadership program developed for, by and with girls.

As families who have both Girl and Boy Scouts can attest, there’s room for both organizations to develop leaders in the single-gender environments for which they’re known. As chartered by Congress we’ve been doing that work for 106 years, and hope to continue beyond another century.

Holli Woodings is a member of the Boise City Council and chair of the Silver Sage board of directors.