Connecticut Girl Scout troops and leadership are embracing technology and broadening their program offerings while staying true to their traditional, core values as part of the organization’s effort to stay current.
In the words of lifetime scout and adult member Deborah Klotzman of Granby, “It’s not just selling cookies anymore.”
A major focus for Connecticut Girl Scouts is their three signature programs, which focus on healthy living (Lead Healthy), behavior and bullying (Girlz RULE), and engaging scouts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM initiatives). Additionally the Journeys program, which involves yearlong leadership and self-development efforts from local troops, is taking on a more important role above that of simply collecting badges.
These offerings, as well as the service projects influenced by what the scouts learn in them, are much more than the traditional image of Girl Scouts as having a snack and earning badges in disciplines like sewing, as Klotzman said.
A group of scouts in Granby, all seventh graders, organized an anti-bullying project for younger scouts during the past school year, . In Farmington, . Simsbury scouts have . Scouts from across Connecticut came to .
“We’re women and we like to change,” said Granby scouting leader Joan Piercey, who has 44 years of experience with the organization. “No matter how we change, [the Girl Scouts’ programs are] relevant to every girl.”
The use of technology is another step forward for the scouts, as the organization moves towards electronic communication to increase educational opportunities and optimize interaction.
“I would say the way we communicate has been a crucial change,” said Margaret Hansen-Kaplan, the Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s chief operating officer. “We’ve also utilized social media with our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. We’re also glad to see that girls have more access to information, which helps them bring more items for discussion at their Girl Scout meetings.”
Safety in terms of online communication is a consideration for scouts and their leaders.
“We’re trying to use technology, but we’re trying to be safe about it,” Piercey, who runs Facebook groups and pages to keep Granby scouts connected, said.
The Girl Scouts’ core values, however, haven’t changed. The scouts still aim to “[build] girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place,” Hansen-Kaplan said.