Ever since the former Boy Scouts of America became the Scouts of America and began accepting girls into their ranks, one question has loomed over the national discussion. What’s going to happen to the Girl Scouts? And are there really any places for girls and young women to have a place of their own? They were already having enough trouble attracting members and sufficient funding for activities, and now that some of the girls will be absconding to the other team, their prospects only looked worse. But it turns out that the Girls Scouts aren’t ready to go quietly into that good night. The organization has launched a new recruiting effort which is focused on “girl power” and female achievement, bringing in some high-power celebrities to generate interest. (Associated Press)
As American women seek a larger role in politics, fairer wages and an end to sexual harassment, the Girl Scouts see an opportune time to show some swagger in promoting their core mission: girl empowerment.
They recruited Queen Latifah to narrate a video featuring famous former Girl Scouts — Venus Williams, Katie Couric and many more. And they indulged in a little bragging when Girl Scout alumna Meghan Markle married into Britain’s royal family…
But the marketing campaign is about more than boasting. It’s also an effort to confront several high-stakes challenges, including reversing a long slide in membership, making the case for all-girl scouting after the rival Boy Scouts included girls and updating the organization’s curriculum for a new generation that expects more than cookies and camping.
Is this going to work? The next generation is certainly more in tune with issues such as pushing more women into STEM-oriented careers, wages for female workers and getting more women into government and industry leadership positions. Their new branding effort is focused on presenting themselves as “girl-led and girlcentric,” pointing out that the iconic Girl Scout cookies program is the largest girl-run company on the planet.
The Girl Scouts really do need to not only survive, but thrive. Society has been on a crash course toward making the entire concept of gender a thing of the past. Single-gender institutions have been under fire for a while, but it was usually just the all-male groups taking the hits. Now, however, we’re seeing sororities being shut down at major universities, not for any wrongdoing, but simply for refusing to blend the boys and the girls. At Harvard, one of the nation’s oldest sororities ran up the white flag when they were threatened with having all their members excluded from leadership programs and other career options.
Males and females are different. We always have been. And while children certainly need to learn to socialize, there’s also nothing wrong with some supportive groups where they can have some “guy time” or “girl time.” Best of luck to Girl Scouts U.S.A. In this brave new world, you’re going to need it.