Girl Scouts is facing sharp declines in both adult volunteers and youth membership. Just days after the end of the Girl Scouts USA 53rd annual convention, talk has once again turned to the possible splintering of the longstanding organization.
The Girl Scouts’ rumored ties to Planned Parenthood is one of the reasons cited by those with alleged plans to split the group and form a new organization dedicated to the “traditional values” which once guided the program created by Juliette Gordon Low, according to critics of the direction the scouting organization has taken in recent years.
A CBS News report revealed that the Girl Scouts membership of both girls and adult volunteers has dropped dramatically for the second straight year. An overall 11.6 percent drop in members has reportedly occurred in the past 24 months. The Girl Scouts USA membership peaked with 3.8 million members in 2003, but the group has since experienced a 27 percent drop in memberships.
Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez blames the drop in membership on social factors, such as the need for parents to work long hours, multiple jobs, and a lack of financial stability. Chavez’s claims may indeed play a part in the scouting decline among girls and adult volunteers but youth sports continue to acquire news athletes and unpaid coaches.
“The need for what Girl Scouts has to offer is not decreasing — more than ever girls need our time and our commitment. Our challenge is to meet them where they are with enough caring adults to serve them,” Chavez said. Online toolkits have been developed to aid the 30,000 or so girls awaiting a troop with room to take them and to aid troop leaders with activity and meeting planning.
A report from The Daily Beast also points to other factors which could be causing support for the Girls Scouts split idea and the troop membership decline. The traditional values movement inside the organization wants the Girl Scouts to return to its roots and focus more on outdoor skills and self-reliance concepts instead of new badge tasks which revolve around reducing one’s carbon footprint and analyzing how fashion websites portray the female body image.
“We’ve got a group of people organized. I won’t tell you how many,” Kentuckiana Girl Scouts volunteer Marty Woelfel said, referencing splintering the group into two separate factions. A Girls Scouts USA spokesman, Josh Ackley, has also sparked controversy. Ackley was once the lead singer of Homopunk, a ban which created multiple controversial videos. One video showed a man who reportedly appears to be writhing on the floor naked and masturbating. Another video reportedly shows a strangled woman.
A 2013 New York City event, reportedly sponsored by the Girl Scouts, was promoted as a celebration of women and girls but also boasted a documentary panel discussion and screening of Makers. The film is allegedly includes a “pro-abortion” segment.
Politics has also become a sticking point for the two different factions emerging in the Girl Scouts organization. A Girl Scouts tweet which appeared to endorse a Democrat with a pro-abortion campaign platform on a woman of the year nominees list and allegedly promoting Kathleen Sebelius as a “woman of courage” also sparked ire among some troop leaders and parents. The hiring of a “Girl Experience Officer” who is a lesbian and married to another woman was not deemed acceptable among all in the group.
Multiple Girl Scouts camps have closed and approximately one-fourth of the national headquarters staff have been eliminated. The American Heritage Girls, a Christian-based “Girl Scouts alternative,” launched in 1995 and now has more than 35,000 members.
What do you think about the modern vs. traditional versions of the Girl Scouts?
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