Girl Scouts Then & Now: Empowering the Next Generation

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By Samantha Corpus

From Daisies to Ambassadors, Girl Scouts are taught to have courage, confidence, and character. Through programs and activities, Girl Scouts are introduced to new skills from everyday activities like cooking to specified interests like how to build a robot. However, over time, Girl Scouts has expanded to include new skills.

Today, Girl Scouting has expanded to include aspects in social growth and social skills. Girls are taught how society works together, how they can negotiate different social situations and not just physical situations, and how to work through less tangible issues.

Girl Scouts have also incorporated “Journeys” as part of the achievements girls can achieve.

“Journeys are each focused around a certain theme for what you’re learning,” says Senior Girl Scout Elise Sawyer. “For example, for the Cadettes’ journeys there was one called Breathe, about keeping the air clean, and a project focusing around plants.”

In the past, girls could work on individual badges and learn a new skill each time. Now, badges can be collected into journeys, a journey can be built into a community service project, and journeys can work together to build into a bigger meta-story.

“And you don’t have to take it that way,” says Troop 9022 leader Lisa Cairns about journeys. “You can just take it badge by badge, but there’s an opportunity to see these different levels and how smaller skills can actually build together into bigger social change moments.”

The local Bryan College Station Service Center is part of the Girl Scouts of Central Texas council. The Girl Scouts of Central Texas hosts fun activities for the girls centered on service projects, STEM, outdoor adventures, and educational events.

“I like all the different opportunities and experiences you get to have with an amazing group of friends as your troop,” says Sawyer. “You have all sorts of new experiences, step out of your comfort zone, and do tons of things you never imagined you could do before.”

As the girls grow older, some may begin to leave Girl Scouts to focus on school extracurricular activities, which conflict with troop meetings and activities. However, for those who stay and graduate high school as an ambassador, they have the opportunity to purchase a lifetime membership. Sarah Bowman, a fourth generation Girl Scout and lifetime member, says for her it means she has an obligation to continue to be involved with the Girl Scouts when possible.

“Girl Scouts was such a big part of my life that I feel like I owe it to other girls, kind of like a pass it on,” says Bowman.

Another aspect of Girl Scouts involves earning their Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. To earn each award, girls must address a problem, find a solution, make a plan, take action through community service, and try to solve the problem while making a lasting difference in the community. Girls can work towards the Bronze Award in elementary school, the Silver Award in middle school, and the Gold Award in high school.

Girl Scouting is more than selling cookies. Girl Scouts also have the opportunity to participate in day and overnight camps. Camp Howdy is a B/CS camp that offers fun, themed activities, as well as an aide program that allows girls in seventh grade and up to help lead activities. Girls also have the ability to travel around the world for volunteer service or educational camps, and money raised from cookie sales can help with the funding.

“One of the things I love about Girl Scouts is there’s a lot of give back opportunities,” says Cairns. “It teaches, from a very young age, the power and importance of philanthropy, but most importantly, it’s the ability to empower the next generation of women leaders.” Plan Ahead: Girl Scouts of Central Texas

Women of Distinction Ceremony

On Thursday, Sept. 14, the Girls Scouts of Central Texas will be celebrating their 25th Anniversary of Women of Distinction in Bryan College Station. They will honor five local women and one local workplace for exemplifying the values Girl Scouts uphold making them role models. The event will be held at the Miramont Country Club from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Registration begins at 6pm.

“It highlights some of the women in our community who are leaders in our community that you would not necessarily always recognize or know that they had done things,” says Sheree Boegner, Women of Distinction committee member and former Woman of Distinction honoree. “It gives the girls someone to look up to.”

The proceeds from this event will benefit the Girl Scouts to support their programs. To purchase a ticket or donate money, visit gsctx.ejoinme.org/BCS. Sponsorships and individual tickets are available.

The 2017 Women of Distinction: 

Kristiana Hamilton is the principal of Southwood Valley Elementary School in College Station. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1986 from Prairie View A&M University and a Master of Education Administration in 2004 from Texas A&M University. In her free time, Kristiana is an avid volunteer and is the president of the Brazos Valley Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Historian for the Texas Alliance of Black Educators, and in 2013 was installed as Chartered President of the Aggie Educators Network, only the 13th constituent to be chartered by the Former Student Association at Texas A&M.

Andrea Liner is the Dean of Admissions and Records/Registrar at Blinn College in Brenham. Andrea has more than 15 years of experience in higher education. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M in 1999, a Master of Science in HR Development in 2011 from the University of Texas at Tyler, and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Education at National American University. Andrea is on the board of directors and a volunteer for several educational organizations for community colleges and is currently the Vice President of Registration and Records for the Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Danny Ballard is Professor Emerita at Texas A&M and has spent her professional career promoting the health and well-being of others, especially women. She has a Bachelor and Master of Science in health education from the University of Houston and earned her Doctorate in higher education/health education at Oklahoma State University. A dedicated community volunteer, Danny serves on the Board of Directors of the Health for All Clinic, is a member of the College Station Noon Lions Club, and holds memberships and leadership roles in many local and national health education organizations. Danny is also a talented singer and has sung the national anthem at several national conferences and even the state capitol.

Karan Watson is the Regents Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Computer Science and Engineering. She earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering 1977, a Master of Science in 1981, and a Doctor of Philosophy in electrical engineering in 1982 from Texas Tech University, joining the faculty of Texas A&M University shortly after. Karan has a long history of supporting, mentoring, and advocating for minorities and women, and received the U.S. President’s Award for Mentoring Minorities and Women in Science and Technology. She is also a graduate of Leadership Texas, the state’s oldest and continuous women’s leadership development organization, and her support has enabled many women from Texas A&M to participate.

Keith Halsell is a passionate community leader and volunteer. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Keith was a teacher in Bryan ISD and retired as an instructor at Brazos Business College. She is currently the co-chair of the “Doing the Most Good” fundraiser for the Salvation Army and immediate past-president of the Salvation Army Auxiliary. Keith is also co-chairing the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra’s Premier Market and Chairing the Scholarship Committee for the Woman’s Club of Bryan College Station. In addition to her leadership roles, she is a dedicated volunteer for Delta Delta Sorority, First Presbyterian Church, the George Bush Presidential Library and the Stephen F. Austin Class of 1963 alumni group.

David Gardner’s Jewelers & Gemologists, Aggieland’s premiere jewelry store specializing in custom jewelry design and the finest brands in the industry, was selected as the 2017 Workplace of Distinction. Husband and wife team David and Julia Gardner are exceedingly generous and offer their support to many local nonprofit organizations, including Girl Scouts. Their staff is primarily women, all who have learned the business from the ground up and are encouraged to follow their dreams in life. For those who want to further their jewelry careers, they offer a variety of training seminars, mentoring opportunities, and continuing education through the American Gem Society.