Girl Scout Brownies in Williamstown marched in the Memorial Day Parade.
Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts is making its late-summer push for girls and adult volunteers to join Girl Scouts, the country’s preeminent leadership development organization for girls.
With families already thinking about how to allocate their free time during the coming school year, Girl Scouts of the USA has released new data showing the organization’s benefits for both girls and volunteers.
Results of a summer 2014 pulse poll conducted with more than 3,500 volunteers and parents of Girl Scouts in the K−5 age range show positive effects on members of all ages. Ninety-seven percent of parents agree that Girl Scouts has been a positive activity for their daughter, that she has had fun and exciting new experiences (95 percent), and that she has learned or tried something new (96 percent).
In addition, 94 percent of parents say that because of Girl Scouts their daughter feels special, has more friends (95 percent), and is happier (89 percent).
The data shows it is not just girls who benefit: 94 percent of volunteers have made new friends, 88 percent believe their life is better because they volunteer with Girl Scouts, and two-thirds believe their volunteer experience has helped them professionally. Ninety-five percent of Girl Scout volunteers are happy knowing they are making girls’ lives better.
"Girl Scouts has provided a safe, fun, and engaging place for girls and adult volunteers to lead and thrive for over 100 years," said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. "We know the majority of volunteers feel their Girl Scout experience has helped them both personally and professionally, but in many places throughout the country, the lack of volunteers is what keeps girls on waiting lists. Every adult who volunteers for Girl Scouts can help us bring fun, new experiences to at least five girls. Imagine what that can do to shape the next generation of female leaders."
Girl Scouts gives girls a place to explore topics of interest in a judgment-free space outside of classroom confinements; it cultivates cooperative and self-directed learning, as well as the growth mindset (the understanding that intelligence and talent can be developed) — all of which help foster a lifetime passion for learning. The variety of experiences and the value for the money the Girl Scout program provides are also popular selling points. Eighty-nine percent of parents say their daughter gets a greater variety of experiences from Girl Scouts than she does from other extracurricular activities, and the majority of parents feel Girl Scouts is a great value for the money compared to other extracurricular activities. Overall, parents consider Girl Scouts one of the most beneficial extracurricular activities for their daughter.
“While the majority of girls see themselves as leaders, many are ambivalent about leadership itself," said Pattie Hallberg, Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts' CEO. "The greatest single barrier to leadership reported by girls is self-perception—a lack of self-confidence. Barriers girls face include stress, fear of talking in front of others, seeming to be bossy, and peer pressure.
“Girls tell us that environments in which they can develop leadership skills are scarce. Specifically, they do not feel that they have much power to change things or help others in many environments. This presents a great opportunity to the youth development and leadership fields to develop leadership programs that resonate with girls and give them safe spaces in which to experiment in leadership roles.”
Girls can get a taste of what Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts has to offer with two fall programs on area college campuses: Geek Is Glam STEM Expo at Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Saturday, Oct. 18, and Discovery Challenge at Holyoke Community College on Saturday, Nov. 8. Both are STEM-based programs with a superhero twist.
Girl Scouts is open to all girls from kindergarten through grade 12. The more adults step forward to volunteer, the more girls will get the chance to be a Girl Scout. Adults over age 18 may become volunteers; both girls and adult volunteers can join at any time of the year. Girl Scout volunteers come from all walks of life; they are men, women, young professionals, retirees, college students, and more. To join or volunteer, please visit: www.girlscouts.org/join.
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