The article entitled “New Opportunities Open for Girls Joining Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA” that was published in the Aegis on March 29, wasn’t representative of the Girl Scout experience.

Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts in 1912 to provide girls with the opportunity to develop skills needed to be independent leaders. Girl Scouts aims to inspire girls to be leaders in their own lives by building the courage, confidence and character to raise their voices and be advocates for the issues and ideas important to them. Here in central Maryland, we currently serve more than 20,000 girls, ages 5-17, and more than 8,000 adult volunteers.

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Former and current Girl Scouts use their determination to lead every day in the fight for a clean environment, equality, safety issues, local concerns, and so much more. Every February, Girl Scouts make a global impact on World Thinking Day, taking part in activities that make a difference in their communities and around the world.

And just last month, we recognized 62 Girl Scouts who earned the Gold Award, the most prestigious award in the world for girls, and the most difficult to earn. Gold Award Girl Scouts are inspiring leaders who are working on a broad range of the most challenging problems facing our world today — from human trafficking to ocean pollution to education access to expanded STEM training for girls in underserved communities. To earn the Gold Award, Girl Scouts commit 80-plus hours to the project alone, taking seven steps to develop a lasting solution. Gold Award Girl Scouts have a competitive edge in the college admissions process and are eligible for scholarships. Just 5 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award each year — more than 1,600 girls in central Maryland are Gold Award Girl Scouts.

Juliette Gordon Low was a famous lover of nature. Today, environmental stewardship is a core component of the Girl Scout experience. Girls from Daisies to Ambassadors explore the outdoors through camping, hiking, kayaking, archery and rock climbing. Whether they're learning about endangered wildlife, developing creative recycling projects or working toward a grade-level award, girls focus on care, conservation and responsibility. Girl Scout Camp offers an excellent opportunity to not only camp but learn about stewardship of the land. The Girl Scouts of Central Maryland summer overnight camp is in high demand, nearing capacity with more than 1,200 campers.

As girls create their own Girl Scout adventure, they can earn badges based on interests, and as they develop new skills such as Good Neighbor, Eco Learner, Space Science Explorer, Use Resources Wisely and more. Badges can also be earned as part of a more complex journey that helps a girl to put into action what she learns through a Take Action project which provides service to the community. Our badges are designed to help girls focus less on just “getting it done” and more on the impact they can make through their personal service and subsequent action.

Hundreds of our Girl Scouts travel all over the country to attend special programs sponsored by other Girl Scout councils. In addition, girls have gone to Costa Rica, Space Camp in Alabama, Juliette Gordon Low’s birthplace in Savannah, Georgia; Orlando Adventure Quest, Colorado’s Archaeology and Culture, Wisconsin’s Camp Hero, Pax Lodge in London, or Our Chalet in Switzerland. Thousands of older Girl Scouts travel throughout the summer. Through these experiences girls get to know their fellow Girl Scouts from all over the country, and learn about other cultures.

Today, there are more than 50 million Girl Scout alums. Girl Scout alums display positive life outcomes to a greater degree than other women on several indicators of success, including sense of self, volunteerism and community work, civic engagement, education, and income/socioeconomic status. About 73% of current female U.S. Senators and 53% of female business owners were Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts are more likely than non-Girl Scouts to earn excellent grades, graduate high school and college, desire a career in STEM, develop and maintain healthy relationships, and take an active role in decision making.

I invite you and your readers to visit https://blog.gscm.org/ to learn more about the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and some of the incredible work our girls are doing to develop new skills and earn Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.

Violet M. Apple is CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. She can be reached at vapple@gscm.org.

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