For the newly minted members of Troop 687 at Audubon Elementary School, the trickiest thing about reciting the Girl Scout Promise was getting their fingers to cooperate in the three-finger salute.
Once they had that mastered, the girls solemnly recited “On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.”
Maddison Eyrich, 10, beamed.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Girl Scout,” she said.
This newest troop is an outreach troop funded through a grant from TransCanada Corp. Membership dues, uniforms and badges, etc., are all covered by the grant, and the troop is led by students from Whitworth University.
In November, Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho launched a two-year giving campaign – the Campaign for Girls – in part to expand their reach to underserved girls and communities.
“We want to get Girl Scouts to every place that needs Girl Scouts,” said Nicole Adamson-Wood, director of marketing and philanthropy for Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.
Audubon Elementary is a Title 1 school. Many students come from single-parent or low-income homes where both budgets and time are tight. Providing scholarships and troop leaders is a way for the organization to include girls who otherwise might miss the opportunity to join Girl Scouts.
And that’s important, because as Adamson-Wood said, “As far as women and girls have come, we’re still lagging behind.”
She cited these sobering statistics.
One in four girls will be sexually assaulted by her 18th birthday.
More girls live in poverty today than before the Great Recession.
More than one in six girls in elementary and middle schools deal with gender-based harassment. Only 24 percent of scientists and engineers in the U.S. are women.
“And girls still aren’t called on in class as often as boys, especially in STEM classes,” Adamson-Wood said.
That’s why the new giving campaign focuses on four key areas: enhanced and expanded programming, expanded reach to underserved and underrepresented girls and communities, a mobile STEM Lab, and a retrofit to the current STEM facilities located at the program center in Spokane. The goal is to raise $300,000 over the next two years designated to these four core areas.
Funding for a mobile STEM lab is crucial, Adamson-Wood said.
“We have a huge footprint – 65,000 square miles,” she said. “A lot of our troops are considered rural, and a mobile STEM lab means we could take programming to places like Othello or Newport.”
At Audubon Elementary, Ellianna Frye, 11, said, “I’ve wanted to be a Girl Scout my entire life. I want to learn about robotics and stuff. And we’re doing a greenhouse project.”
And Marayah Houck, 11, already has a Girl Scout goal.
“I want to sell cookies,” she said. “I’m a good salesman.”
Growing future business and political leaders is in keeping with Girl Scouts’ objectives. Adamson-Wood noted that 50 percent of the women elected to the new Congress were Girl Scouts.
The organization hopes the Campaign for Girls will not only raise funds to provide more girls with the Girl Scout experience, but also raise the level of awareness on important issues critical to the success of girls.
They will also host a series of forums throughout the year where participants will take part in a dialogue on these issues and how as a community more can be done for girls
“Our focus is 100 percent on girls,” said Adamson-Wood. “We want to make sure they have all the skills they need to lead at school and beyond.”
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