Not your mother’s Girl Scouts

RELEVANT AND READY: Ashley Burton shows achievement badges that can be earned through Girl Scouts. Materials that address relevant issues facing girls today are appealing and thought provoking. Jodi Marze | Picayune Item

RELEVANT AND READY: Ashley Burton shows achievement badges that can be earned through Girl Scouts. Materials that address relevant issues facing girls today are appealing and thought provoking.
Jodi Marze | Picayune Item

Membership and Community Development Specialist Ashley Burton expressed her excitement for the leadership programs for both Girl Scouts and leaders.

“We have a wide assortment of options available for those who might be interested,” she said. “Troops can be formed with one student and a leader. Activities are centered around ‘journeys’ which are themed sessions with various topics that are selected by a vote. These include workbooks for leaders and troop members.”

Burton said volunteers are invested as much as they choose to be.

“They can meet as little or as much as they want,” she said. “Pearl River is a service area and they have a council level that gives support. The program is a girl-led program and leadership empowers the girls to conduct their meetings.”

One of the journeys that can be chosen is about media. It discusses stereotyping of females in video, music, magazine and print. One project has members noting examples of stereotyping in these formats and openly discussing their findings.

“It gives an opportunity to have open dialog and gives the girls an opportunity to question what they are seeing instead of just accepting what they are seeing,” Burton said.

The myth is that Girl Scouts is just about camping, but that is not the case, Burton said.

The program encompasses skill development in the areas of economic development learned through cookie sales, leadership, self-development, communication skills and conflict resolution.

Another myth is that the program is for young girls.

“We have many seniors involved in this program and there are scholarships available as well as opportunities to serve on the board. We have sports recognition and educational opportunities,” Burton said.

In addition to a variety of summer camps for scouts of all ages, high school scouts can attend Camp CEO, where they will interact and learn from the state’s top women executives,” Burton said.

“It’s a week-long opportunity for our high school campers to be mentored and learn team building exercises,” Burton said.  “They will make connections and friendships that will last a lifetime with other campers and executives from across the state.”

Picayune resident Kristen Hooge, earned her Gold Award and said “Girl Scouts teaches you many lessons on how to become an independent woman and gives you so many inlets into organizations it’s crazy. Being a Girl Scout qualifies you for scholarships and hundreds of different universities. It gives you the opportunity to get involved in your community.

It’s something you put on your resume that not only looks great but could also be the determining factor of whether you get the job over someone else.”

Hooge said that many of her fondest memories came from the time she spent with her troop working on activities. She said the best part of Girl Scouts is meeting many people from the community who she would not have met otherwise.

“… it’s something I’ll definitely get my daughters involved in when I have a family of my own.”

Leaders are encouraged to engage in the “Ban Bossy Campaign,” which has been endorsed by Beyonce and other celebrities.

The campaign educates leaders in communication pitfalls that hinder a woman’s message.

One example portrayed in the campaign’s literature involves girls learning that too much confidence can alienate them from their peers. To avoid showing too much confidence they begin speech by  apologizing or end statements with a questioning tone.

The program’s literature states that, “The confidence gap starts young. Between elementary school and high school, girl’s self -esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys.”

“We encourage our leaders to teach girls to respect their feelings and that being assertive is not bossy,” Burton said.

Burton is a graduate of South Alabama University and holds a degree in social work. She chose Girl Scouts because of her desire to help others see their potential.

“I love the fact that for $15, a young woman can join a group like this that will change their life,” Burton said. “It will change their outlook and truly help them reach their potential.”

Burton said there are enough negatives assaulting our young people. Girl Scouts gives positive opportunities to grow and excel in a supportive environment.

Girl Scout divisions by age groups include: Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador. The Girls Scouts have projects that are fit for all levels to work on at the same time.

Membership costs $15 for a year and uniforms can be purchased for approximately $20, Burton said.

“Right now we have a special patch for campers who register for our summer camp session from May 1 through July 21,” Burton said. “It is going to be a wonderful session and it can be the start of so much more.”

Churches, insurance companies and real estate companies can sponsor their own troop. Sponsorships can come from families, organizational groups and schools.

For more information contact Ashley Burton at 228-864-7215 or aburton@gsgms.org.

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