“Skills today, success tomorrow” is the GSUSA catch phrase for the 2020 membership year. As I reflect on the hundreds of Girls I have met over the past year, it is an absolutely apropos phrase for what we do. Visiting with Sunnyside volunteer leader Andrea Gatica this past week, she showed me a graphic of an iceberg, which was refreshing in the 90-degree heat of Yakima. But what was even more intriguing was the thought she put in a graphic she created that showed what we see above the waterline when we see Girl Scouts. Certainly, cookies, leadership training, and the sisterhood are common parts of what everyone thinks of us. But below the waterline is where so much of our magic happens. In an iceberg, 90 percent of the ice is below the waterline; the same could be said for Girl Scouts.
Being new to the movement, I can attest I was not aware of how focused our movement was on outdoor skills or STEM. It is opening doors for so many Girls. It is our bread and butter and gives us so much staying power. Goal setting, travel, unique experiences, Leave No Trace, and historical traditions are other skills that underpin our program and create Girls of courage, confidence and character. It may be beneath the waterline for the public but for us as staff and volunteers, we keep it forefront because it is our strength. One other skill that Andrea had on her graphic was Girl-led. Spot on…spot on. How often does the public see Girl Scouts in action and think that is Girl-led? Probably hardly ever, but in reality, our Girl Scouts are moving out based on THEIR leadership with mentoring and guidance from their victorious volunteers.
‘Leadership is learned’ and how much of an advantage are our Girl Scouts gaining by learning leadership at early ages. Practice makes perfect. No wonder so many legislators, astronauts, Secretary of States; females are also Girl Scouts…they started learning leadership early because they practiced Girl-led. Recently, I attended an event in Wisconsin and listened to a female state legislator speak. She has a record of service a mile long. I went up after her speech and introduced myself to thank her for her service. Being a distinguished public servant, I figured she was a Girl Scout. So I asked…and the answer: “Of course, and my mom was one too!” As adults, we do not wear a visible Girl Scout logo most of the time, unless in uniform, but the skills beneath the waterline beam forth in courage, confidence and character.
My most proud moment in the last month was listening to Coeur d'Alene Gold Award Girl Scout Crista Falk on a radio interview in Sandpoint. For 10 minutes, she energetically articulated the skills she obtained as she earned her Bronze, Silver and Gold Award culminating with developing a computer science curriculum for middle school students. It was a brilliant project that has legs as her school will continue the curriculum to expose students to this vital technology skill. If I could take Crista on a road show to talk to elementary parents…our membership would shoot to the moon. Every parent would hope their daughter would follow in Crista’s golden footsteps! She is heading to MIT…clearly, skills today, success tomorrow! Our core mission as we head into membership season is to expose the public to all the vital skills below the waterline. There is a lot to talk about and all of our “ice” is strong enough to not melt in the summer, and with it, we know come skills today, for success summer. Our “iceberg of good” is titanic in stature because we are 107 years Juliette Gordon Low strong—full speed ahead!
-Brian Newberry, GSEWNI CEO