Thursday, April 23, 2009

Girl Scouts What????

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while now. Ever since I read about the trouble that the young girl scout who advertised cookies on youtube has now gotten herself into with the Girl Scouts organization.

Let me start at the beginning. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a Girl Scout. There were no active troops in our area (at least none that my mom knew about) so she signed me up for Campfire Girls, which I did for about two years. My mom was the leader and when that ended, the Campfire Girls troop ended as well. I went through a similar experience with my eldest child. Wanting to involve her in Girl Scouts meant that I would have to be the leader since no one else volunteered. After four years of doing this, I resigned. None of the other parents wanted to take over the troop, so it was disbanded.

This brings me to my current issue with Girl Scouts, namely that the organization is not keeping current. I believe that the reprisal for the youtube advertising was a knee jerk reaction on the part of the Girl Scouts organization. A number of years ago a family stock piled hordes of Girl Scout cookies and later re-sold them on ebay for a significant mark-up. The family benefited directly from the mark-up and none of the money went to Girl Scouts. As a United Way organization, it is important that Girl Scouts does fundraisers only within a certain time frame and this must not overlap with the fundraisers of other United Way organizations in the area. So the ebay mark-up sales was treacherous for Girl Scouts on two levels: First it was for family profit, not that organization and second the cookies were sold outside of the allotted time frame which could cause Girl Scouts to lose future funding.

I don't know if these two incidents are related or not, but I suspect that they are. Things move within the Girl Scout organization at the speed of a slug traversing a honey spill. I am disappointed that the young girl in question was not allowed to make her youtube pitch. Computers are the future. These girls will likely be working on computers and using computers everyday for many things when they grow up. These are skills that should be taught now. Door-to-door sales is not only dated, it can be very unsafe.

This isn't the first time that I have run across antiquated ideals within the Girl Scouts organization. Within our own service unit I suggested that training for girl bullying could be done through Girl Scouts. There are already established programs that deal with this issue and my suggestion was that the Girl Scouts review and adopt at least one. This never happened. It was important to me because this is what our girls deal with everyday at school. For an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of girls, Girl Scouts is woefully behind on tackling this issue from an organizational level. Right now it is left up to each troop to address the issue or not and using only the resources that they are able to find on their own.

Finally, I believe that the home based troop idea run by volunteer moms is outmoded as well. I seriously think that the Girl Scouts organization needs to re-think troop options. The burn-out rate is high. I can attest to this because I am a victim of it. I tried to make a difference, to suggest options, one being that Girl Scouts offers troops whereby parents pay to have college students run the regular meetings or they establish group meetings at each grade level at each school that are implemented by employees of Girl Scouts and run by volunteers within a supported environment. It took me a while to realize that none of these options or any others are likely to be implemented while my children are young enough to benefit from them.

Meanwhile, my younger two daughters are in a traditional Girl Scout troop. I worry about leader burn-out here too and try to help out as much as I can. We did cookie sales in our neighborhood and at several stores. I am still hoping for youtube and internet sales options, this provides a valuable opportunity for teaching safety skills. I wish that I had more faith that this would be possible in the current organizational structure of this institution.


Benjamin Ady said...


snowflake said...

I couldn't agree with you more! Blogs, facebook, youtube, twitter - this is the wave of the future and the Girl Scouts - just like everyone else need to ride the wave or get swept under.