The observance of Girl Scout Week from March 12-18 celebrates the birthday of a sisterhood that has touched millions of lives. Here, Becky Traweek, chief executive officer for Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi, tells us about the organization and its impact.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE AND MISSION OF GIRL SCOUTS OF GREATER MISSISSIPPI?
Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
HOW AND WHY DID GIRL SCOUTS COME ABOUT? TELL US A BIT ABOUT ITS HISTORY.
A meeting in 1911 with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, inspired Juliette Gordon Low to establish Girl Scouts the following year. In a time of cultural change, but before women had the right to vote, Girl Scouts emphasized inclusiveness, the outdoors, self-reliance and service.
Gordon Low—also known widely by her nickname, “Daisy,” started Girl Scouts in 1912 in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia. The first troop was comprised of 18 girls who shared a sense of curiosity and a belief that they could do anything.
At a time when women in the United States couldn’t yet vote and were expected to stick to strict social norms, encouraging girls to embrace their unique strengths and create their own opportunities was game- changing. That small gathering of girls over 110 years ago ignited a movement across America where every girl could unlock her full potential, find lifelong friends and make the world a better place.
WHAT’S EXCITING ABOUT GIRL SCOUTS OF GREATER MISSISSIPPI?
59 million American women alive today participated in Girl Scouts, and 2.6 million are currently Girl Scouts. Famous alums include Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Dakota Fanning, Venus and Serena Williams, Katie Couric, Barbara Walters and Robin Roberts. In addition, every astronaut who has ever flown into space is a Girl Scout alum.
We rule in more ways than one. Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice are all Girl Scout alums, as well as 76 percent of female U.S. Senators and 52 percent of female members of the House of Representatives. What could be more exciting than that?
WHAT IMPACT DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION MAKE ON THE COMMUNITY AND THE PEOPLE IT SERVES? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT INITIATIVES?
The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led business in the world. Girl Scouts sell about 200 million boxes of cookies, nearly $800 million worth, during each cookie season. There’s more to the cookies than what’s in the box. When a Girl Scout sells you these treats, she’s building a lifetime of skills and confidence. She learns goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics — skills that are essential in leadership, success and life.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST THING YOU HAVE LEARNED OR GAINED BY BEING INVOLVED IN GIRL SCOUTS?
Carolina Butler, long time Girl Scout and Membership Specialist for the Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi, was the perfect person to answer this question: “It would be impossible to name everything I’ve learned or gained from my 10 years of Girl Scouting as a girl, the nearly one year I’ve worked with the organization and the years in between when I stayed active in the Girl Scout community. Through my time with Girl Scouts, I did everything from singing Christmas carols in the nursing home and learning to build a fire to educating people on the history of Girl Scouts, doing countless hours of community service, traveling hundreds of miles, starting a clothing drive for a community that needed it, becoming an entrepreneur — and the list goes on. I truly have built courage, confidence and character, as well as pertinent life skills, but perhaps my favorite takeaway is friendship.
My best friend today is someone I became friends with in the fourth grade through Girl Scouts. We stuck with it together all the way through high school, doing community service together, learning, having fun and pushing each other to be our best selves.
All that we did and accomplished together built an unbreakable bond that has carried us through college, into our marriages and continues now as we start families with each other by our side. I know the mission and principles of Girl Scouts that we so deeply believe in kept us growing together all these years, and they continuously lead me to pursue leadership roles and strive to be a world changer.”