Girl Scouts celebrate 100 Year Anniversary with Year of the Girl campaign

Girl Scouts in Carroll County and all over the United States are celebrating the 100 Year Anniversary of the organization by focusing on the values girls gain from scouting experience, said Traci Barnett, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland.

"Juliette Low started Girl Scouts in 1912," Barnett said. "That makes this year our 100 year anniversary, providing the chance to celebrate all we have achieved and the potential of future Girl Scouts."

In honor of the organization's 100 years, the Girl Scouts of the United States has declared 2012 the Year of the Girl, Barnett said.

Girl Scouts of Central Maryland is also observing it's 50th anniversary and is embracing the Year of the Girl in celebration, Barnett said.

"Year of the Girl is a national campaign that focuses attention on girls everywhere and the issues they face," Barnett said. "We are determined to breakdown societal barriers that hinder girls from leading and achieving success... ."

A confident tween, teen or young woman will make more grounded decisions and feel stronger when faced with difficult circumstances because of what they learned in scouts, said Heidi Lippy Sprinkle, leader of Troop 2226, a Hampstead based group of 39 girls from across Carroll County. The Year of the Girl simply highlights the great things girls can do with Girl Scout experience, she said.

Each 2012 Girl Scout meeting is designed to help girls overcome insecurities and discover passions, skills and confidence, Lippy Sprinkle said.

"A girl might suddenly discover her inner artist. Another girl might find self-confidence during a research project where she is the lead," Lippy Sprinkle said. "And yet another discovers a passion for making a positive change in our world. We are creating tomorrow's recyclers, CEOs, politicians and mothers."

Carissa Davis, leader of Brownie Troop 1090 that caters to 20 girls in both Hampstead and Manchester, said she sees The Year of the Girl campaign as a way to create awareness of and discuss school and life issues.

"One issue I think really effects the girls in our troop is bullying and just the struggle to fit in," Davis said. "We [are doing a] whole series of activities on bullying and at the end all the girls sign a pledge that they will not bully and will report bullying if they witness it."

The girls in the troop recently made posters explaining the things that make them who they are, Davis said. The Year of the Girl is a time to celebrate each girls unique qualities, she said.

According to Davis, the Year of the Girl initiative will change the way she plans this years meetings and activities.

"There seems to be a shift in our badge program that involves getting the girls involved in more science and technology and our activities will reflect this," Davis said. "For instance, later this month we will be going to Port Discovery [in Baltimore City] for an overnight adventure ... We will be learning about energy, the different types and how to conserve it."

In March, Girl Scouts of Central Maryland will be hosting a leadership forum for all in-state troops, featuring a panel of women with leadership roles in business, government, science and the arts. The organization will also be hosting Girl Scouts Grand Slam in June at Camden Yards. There will be prizes for ticket sellers, girl and alumni activities, photo-ops with the Orioles and a Girl Scout parade of all attendees on the field.

"Girl Scouts offers so many ways for girls to develop leadership skills and self-esteem in a supportive community," Barnett said. "The events we have planned for Year of the Girl reinforces the bonds between those in scouts."

The culminating event takes place in early June, where a predicted 200,000 girls, alum and adults will gather in Washington, D.C., for Girl Scouts Rock the Mall. GSUSA will host guest performers who will take the stage and lead attendees in a line-up of traditional scout songs as well as new songs that girls listen to today. This event was held previously to mark the 85th, 90th and 95th anniversaries of Girl Scouts.

"Right now, in this wonderful celebration year, we can make a measurable difference," Barnett said. "[We can] help girls reach beyond what they are capable of doing and achieve what they never thought possible."

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