Scouts Build Leadership Skills at All Age Levels/18/18 10/21/18 10:53:51 PM
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Girl Scouts are well known for their annual cookie sales, but the organization offers leadership opportunities and training for all ages. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is just one example. (Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska)
Thin Mints and So Much More
Scouts Build Leadership Skills at All Age Levels
By Elizabeth Elliott
The Daily Record
Leadership skills don’t – and shouldn’t – begin in adulthood. The Girl Scouts makes sure that even the youngest girls begin to develop
those skills with the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE).
“The Girl Scout Leadership Experience focuses on leadership for all levels of Girl Scouts,” Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska CEO Fran Marshall said. “The foundation of our programming is ‘Girl Led’ so, as a girl progresses through the levels of Girl Scouts, she is called upon and expected to step up and lead her troop or group. Leadership has been a part of Girl Scouts since its inception in 1912. The GSLE was introduced in 2008. The GSLE not only identifies the three keys of leadership – Discover, Connect, and Take Action – it also describes the processes through which Girl Scouts learn leadership. These processes
are Girl Led, Learning by Doing, and Cooperative Learning.”
The GSLE underscores all Girl Scout programming. Some opportunities,
like the Cookie Program and Fall Product Program, help expand
a girl’s skill set in other specific
“When the three leadership keys and three processes combine, Girl Scouts are provided a safe structure where they can take on more responsibility
for planning and leadership
over time,” Marshall said. “This structure encourages healthy risk-taking, confidence development,
and relationship building. Through these keys, Girl Scouts find out who they are and what they value, collaborate with others to expand their horizons, and do something to make the world a better
To earn a prestigious Gold Award, Girl Scouts in grades 9 to 12 choose an issue then follow the steps to investigate, get help, create a plan, present the plan, take action, educate and inspire. Since 1916, one million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
Younger girls who identify a pressing need in their community and develop a project to address it can earn the Bronze or Silver Award. In the process, girls gain skills in leadership, project planning,
time management and budgeting.
These skills are the stepping-
stones to earning the Gold Award.
In Nebraska this year, 233 girls earned their Bronze Award, the highest award for Girl Scouts in fourth and fifth grade. Another 153 earned the Silver Award, the highest award for Girl Scouts in sixth through eighth grade. And 21 earned the prestigious Gold Award, six of them from the Omaha area: Lucy Cordes, Liliana Delgado, Mariah Griffin, Izabelle Krupa, Lily Slimm and Helen Whetstine.
“The Girl Scout Gold Award is the ultimate achievement for a Girl Scout and these scouts have demonstrated
their leadership skills and commitment to a goal by earning this prestigious award,” Marshall said.
Melissa Breazile, marketing director
of the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska, said more Girl Scouts are stepping up for change.
“This year, nearly twice as many girls as last year dreamed big, developed
plans, rallied volunteers and carried out projects that touched lives in their communities and even across the world,” she said.
Some of the projects which earned scouts a Gold Award were Cordes’s partnership with Girls Inc. to help children from low income households learn to play a musical instrument; Griffin’s guidebook for the Spring Fling dance at Madonna School; and Kurpa’s project which made pillowcase dresses – 50 of them – for girls at the Home of Good Hope, a soup kitchen in Windhoek, Namibia, Africa.
“The most important thing I learned from completing this project
was time management,” Kurpa said. “I learned that I can accomplish
a lot if I manage my time wisely and don’t procrastinate.”
“Each girl identifies a project that is important to her, puts together
her plan and executes that plan to earn her Gold Award,” Marshall said. “We could not be more proud of the accomplishments of these young women.”
Young Women of Distinction
In addition, each year three Nebraska Gold Award Girl Scouts are chosen as Pat Meyer Nebraska Young Women of Distinction. Those three were Delgado, Slimm and Whetstine. Each girl earns a plaque and a $500 scholarship
“These Girl Scouts are shaping
the future of their communities
and distinguishing themselves as exceptional leaders willing to take action on an issue that they feel strongly about,” Marshall said. “These young women demonstrate what it means to lead with true Girl Scout spirit.”
Delgado earned the award for her project about self-harm awareness.
She created a program to help students, provide resources and create a safe space to have the discussions
about suicide and mental health. The program is now part of the More Than Sad curriculum at a local parish.
“It’s cool more and more people are starting to recognize that we need to create a safe space for these conversations,” Delgado said.
Slimm said her project, Pets 101, was inspired by working with refugee
students. She saw a need for pet care education for children from countries where pets are not a normal
part of life. She partnered with the Nebraska Humane Society and Belvedere Elementary, teaching her program to students in kindergarten through fourth grade, initially in the ESL classes but expanding it to include
“I have always loved working with kids, so it was the perfect opportunity
to bring even more of that into my life,” she said. “I had to make it age appropriate (K-4) and I also needed to make sure I hit all the bases that the Girl Scout Council needed me to get. It was a year-long process, but it was well worth it.”
Whetstine developed her project
based on her involvement with the Millard North Chapter of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica. She noticed that children of non-native English speakers were developing reading and language skills later in life than their monolingual peers.
“Girl Scouts is an organization where your daughter is accepted for who she is,” Marshall said. “She is allowed to try new things, encouraged
to take risks in a supportive and healthy environment, and supported
in developing important life skills and relationships that she will have for her lifetime.
“Guided by the GSLE, Girl Scouts helps girls develop five essential
skills to succeed in school and in life: sense of self, positive values, challenge seeking, healthy relationships, and community problem
solving. A girl who develops these five skills stands up for herself,
believes she can do anything, is honest and reliable, goes outside of her comfort zone, works well with others, and is an active and engaged
– Lorraine Boyd contributed to this report.