Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout

In 2012, Girl Scouts will celebrate 100 years of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.Since its founding in 1912, Girl Scouts, the world?s largest organization for girls, has offered all girls the opportunity to learn leadership skills and experience the rewards of service to their communities. In partnership with one million adult leaders, Girl Scouts, a diverse and inclusive organization, offers the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to nearly 3 million girl members in every zip code, Since its founding, Girl Scouts, the country’s preeminent leadership development organization for girls has offered all girls the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and serve their communities. What began with 18 girls in 1912 by founder Juliette Gordon Low has grown into an international movement with 3.4 million girls and 1 million adults.

One of Juliette’s core values was that Girl Scouts should be available to every girl regardless of her racial/ethnic and socio-economic background. At a time when segregation was the norm and laws promoting civil rights had not been enacted, Juliette deliberatively recruited girls from varied socio-economic backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religions and abilities to become Girl Scouts.

Today this diverse and inclusive organization remains committed to providing leadership skills and opportunities for all girls. At a time when one in five girls lives in poverty, and funding for education and after-school programs is in decline, Girl Scouts says “Yes” to every girl. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience provides opportunities that help girls change their lives and improve the lives of others in their neighborhoods. Last year, Girl Scouts provided over 200 million hours of direct service to their communities. Somewhere there is a girl waiting to develop her leadership skills and make a difference in the world. Girl Scouts helps that girl become the leader she was born to be!

Girl Scouts appreciates that the Hispanic community is the fastest-growing population in the United States and is delighted that there has been a 48 percent increase in Hispanic girl membership in the last five years. To ensure that girls in the Hispanic community are able to take advantage of the benefits of Girl Scouting, the organization continues to work hard to inform Hispanic families of the quality programs and activities that await every Latina who wants to be a Girl Scout.

For many girls, Girl Scouts is where they found their voice, learned new skills and made new friends, thus creating a lifetime of wonderful memories. When Girl Scouts become adults they are linked to 10 million global sisters through the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and 50 million Girl Scout alumnae in the United States.

That’s greater than the population of California, the most populous state in the nation, and equal to the populations of Spain and Portugal combined. And if strength in numbers isn’t enough, the ranks of Girl Scout alumnae include some of the most famous and powerful women in America, including: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady Laura Bush, Patricia Diaz Dennis, former Girl Scouts National Board Chair, Chita Rivera, entertainer, Nancy Lopez, golfer and Linda Chavez-Thompson, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO.

So as Girl Scouts looks to its next 100 years, the organization seeks to reconnect with all former Girl Scouts.

Are you an adult Latina Girl Scout or Girl Scout Latina volunteer? If so, Girl Scouts invites you to register for the new Alumnae Association at http://alumnae.girlscouts.org. This is the place where you can reconnect with former Girl Scouts, share memories and discover what today’s Girl Scouts are doing. You can also learn about the many activities planned for the Girl Scouts’ 100th Anniversary which will take place throughout the United States in 2012.

Rocky Egusquiza is a national board member of the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA).