Girl Scout cookies inspire the 3Cs: Courage, confidence, and character

Gone are the days when the Girl scouts' 3Cs stood for cookies, camping, and crafts. Photo: @Girl Scouts of the Florida Panhandle

CHICAGO, January 22, 2011—It’s Girl Scout Cookie time again! Time to stock the cabinets with Thin Mints, Samoas, and Do-Si-Dos! Selling cookies is a time-honored Girl Scout tradition that not only builds on the 3C’s of courage, confidence and character, but also supports thousands of programs and opportunities for girls across the country.

Girl Scouts of the USA is organized into over 100 localized councils, each offering unique events and activities. While cookies, camping, and crafts are still part of the program, things have changed since Grandma wore the sash and beanie. Campfires and canoeing are still there, of course, but glancing through the Program Essentials Guide for the Chicago area shows that today’s Girl Scouts have opportunities Juliette Gordon Low could not have imagined. Here’s a glimpse at some of the programs those cookie sales support.

Camp has always been a big part of Scouting, but not all girls are into the woodsy nature stuff. Overnight programs are offered at most of Chicago’s amazing museums, including Snoozeum at the Museum of Science and Industry and Dozin’ with the Dinos at the Field Museum. Girl Scouts have slept under Saturn at the Adler Planetarium and awoken with orangutans at Brookfield Zoo.

Not Your Grandma’s Scouting

Girls get zoology first hand

The John Hancock Building’s 97th Floor Observatory hosts the Sky High Sleepover, an evening in the clouds with an emphasis on architecture. Girls who love sports can tire themselves out at the Hidden Cove Sportsplex Overnight Lock-in or at the Sports Overnighters offered at area colleges, which also give girls the opportunity to spend time on a college campus.

Speaking of sports, the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, Whitesox, and the Chicago Fire all offer Girl Scout events. Women’s sports are represented by the WNBA’s Chicago Sky and DePaul University’s Women’s basketball. A fun, low-key night at the ballpark can be enjoyed with the Joliet Jackhammers and the Indiana Railcats minor league baseball teams. Scouting’s emphasis on the great outdoors lends itself to the investigation of science.

Girls who attended International Observe the Moon Night were not just stargazing, however. After learning about the various craters and what influenced their size and shape, the girls built their own lunar landing model. Ecology-related courses are too numerous to list, but Life in the Cold, Winter Ecology deserves a mention as girls first learn that plant and animal life doesn’t stop when the wind chill plummets, instead learning  how to enjoy it themselves with a cross-country ski lesson! STEMapalooza (STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) brings scientists and organizations together for activities that teach Scouts about various happenings and careers in the scientific community.

Scouts Go One Better Than Nancy Drew: CSI

Girls at the archery range

And in a nod to science in pop culture, Forensic Investigations could very well be called CSI: Girl Scouts. Fingerprints, composite sketches of suspects, handwriting analysis are all part of tracking clues. Girls at a “crime scene” search for and analyze evidence, develop their case, and present it to a judge and jury.

Speaking of careers, when was the last time you had a power lunch? Better yet, when was the first time you had a power lunch? The Girl Scouts Power Lunch offerings bring teen Scouts together with successful women in various industries.

Different lunches focus on what it takes to succeed in law, marketing & design, tourism, and STEM.

The fine arts are represented as well. Events at the Joffrey and the American Ballet Theatre, the Lyric Opera, and the Goodman Theatre’s famous production of A Christmas Carol are often accompanied with backstage tours. 

Brownie Scouts become authors and journalists with Write, Print and Publish, while older Scouts can learn self defense from a female martial arts/self defense expert. And all Scouts can take age-appropriate classes in money management.

Obviously, Girls Scouting offers a wide variety of learning opportunities for girls, but community service is also strongly emphasized. Food and clothing drives are still popular, but the craft projects younger scouts create now often end up as center pieces on the tables of a shelter where the girls are serving dinner to the homeless.

Junior Scouts recently put their design and carpentry skills to use to create book nooks for children at a nearby St. Vincent DePaul Center.

Courage, Confidence, Character Count Most

The highest awards that Girl Scouts can earn are related to community service. The Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards are awarded to Scouts who have created a lasting impact on their community. For Gold Award projects, an in-person interview with the Gold Award Committee is required and approval must be received in advance. A formal proposal must be submitted, along with a Project Budget and Hour Log completed during the project, and a Final Report form must be submitted after project completion. Were you ready to take that on when you were 15? Girl Scouts who earn the Gold Award are eligible for scholarship opportunities at many colleges and universities and immediately rise one rank should they decide to enter any of the four branches of the U.S. Military.

Girls build their camp fire

So that’s what that $4 box of cookies represents.

Juliette Gordon Low started Girl Scouts to inspire young girls to get out of the house, enjoy nature, and discover that they have the power to improve their communities and their lives. Scouting may have changed with the times, but the message is still strong. Courage, Confidence, and Character.

Oh, and if you don’t want the cookies, there’s a special column on the order form where you can order a box to be sent to a charity of the troop’s choice or to the military troops defending our freedom.

And you thought it was just a cookie.

To contact Julia Goralka, writer and former Girl Scout, see above.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Julia Goralka

In addition to her work at The Communities, Julia Goralka is a free-lance novel editor and has served as a volunteer board member or committee member for several local charitable organizations. Prior to writing and editing, Julia was the Division Coordinator for the interest rate derivatives marketing desk at a large financial institution based in Chicago.

Contact Julia Goralka


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