Girl Scouts: Celebrating the women of yesterday, today and tomorrow

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Women’s History Month is not all strictly about historical milestones. This month celebrates women of the past, present and future, and their vital roles as women in American society.

Nicole Cardwell

Girl Scouts and their leaders find ways to make scouting happen despite the pandemic.

For more than  a hundred years, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America have been giving to and growing their communities, while also developing themselves into the next generation of female leaders.

The history of the Girl Scouts began in 1912, when e women in the U.S. had limited rights compared to their male counterparts. Juliette Gordon Low, the  founder behind the organization that is now made up of millions of girls and women nationwide, had a vision to empower what women were truly capable of. For example: Women were not even allowed to vote in 1912.

The 1918 Influenza pandemic was no kinder to the first Girl Scouts then than the coronavirus is to today’s Girl Scouts.

Lansing area Girl Scout Junior Troop Leader Nicole Cardwell said she and other troop leaders will tell stories to the girls about Low and her struggles. They will then compare Low’s story to what is happening in the world today and try to draw similarities and solutions to their problems.

Cardwell challenges the Girl Scouts by asking, “What would Low do in a time like this where people are saying we can’t meet and it’s not safe?” Cardwell encourages them to think how they can meet and be safe at the same time. 

“Letting them know that we’re not the first women to come up against something huge, we just need to put our heads together until something sounds good and just work together as a team and not to give up,” said Cardwell.

Girl Scout holds up sign

Nicole Cardwell

An enterprising Girl Scout tries to lure in the cookie customers.

Some of the most important lessons that Brownie troop leader Crystal Schultz tries to teach her second and third graders are loyalty and friendship. Schultz said it is important to teach the younger girls simpler lessons because establishing strong relationships with one another is the first step to connecting as Girl Scouts.

In a typical year, the Girl Scouts will do much more than their popular cookie sales. The Girl Scouts have contributed in many programs and projects such as visiting nursing homes, bottle drives, and even attending the Grand Ledge Color Tour last year.

Two years ago, the Girl Scouts participated in a drive for the Capital Area Humane Society, where the troop took in pop bottle donations to raise around $900 and purchase  supplies for the shelter. 

Christine Kilbourn, Daisy Girl Scout troop leader, said that despite Covid-19, her girls are very lucky to have an established sisterhood through such a difficult time, especially since they get to have some in-person interaction with one another.

“They have each other,” said Killbourn. “Be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

Killbourn’s girls are currently pen-pals with other Girl Scouts in California and Texas. Killbourn said that this small act of communication reminds the Daisy’s the entire community, no matter where in the U.S., is a safe place for one another and how important that is in a time like this.

“There’s always going to be another girl alongside them, making the same mistakes and learning the same lessons,” said Ashley Mannor, cadet troop leader.

The Girl Scout experience is all about growing together trying new things to be better every day.