Southwestern Indiana Girl Scouts CEO on Boy Scouts accepting girls

The Boy Scouts announced on Wednesday that the organization will begin accepting girls into the scouting program. Aimee Stachura, CEO of the Southwest Indiana Girl Scouts, joined us on Wednesday to discuss the impact the decision could have on the Girl Scouts.

Here's a transcription of the interview:

SK: Now this move has been panned by the national leader of the Girl Scouts. Aimee Stachura joins us today. What's your reaction to this announcement?

AS: You know, no matter how the Boy Scouts may try to structure their programming to include girls for convenience, the fact is 'leadership isn't convenient.' Our program was designed specifically for girls. Everything we do is designed with girls and for girls. That's what makes it so beautiful and so important. Girls do need their own space. They need their own time to lift each other up, to understand what sisterhood is, and to develop those leadership skills together so as they grow, they understand how to be a big part of that community.

SK: How would the approach for a girl be different for a boy?

AS: We know from research that single gender environments are important. It gives them an inclusive, safe space where they can really branch out. They can try potential skills they might not try if they were in a co-ed environment. They're more likely to raise their hand for leadership roles if it's all girls and they're more likely to also do STEM focused activities if it's all girls. That's not just important to our community but to the world.

SK: You mention STEM and that you're headed that way. That may have been a past criticism-- that Girl Scouts didn't include Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. You can earn badges with that. So why did you add that?

AS: We know the importance of it. In the future, the girls will need to have STEM. We know they're not always getting it – so we're giving opportunities for our leaders and mentors to open doors for these girls. So they're getting into robotics and cyberspace. Even from the youngest level of kindergarten... But that gives them an opportunity to open doors and say 'this is something I didn't know existed.' Girl Scouts can offer that for you. Something else we're really pushing too is environment – getting outdoors. Camping, kayaking, canoeing, archery – making sure they're out there and knowing what environmental stewardship is.

SK: That seems like part of the Boy Scouts brand. Is that something you've always offered or is that something new you're trying to develop?

AS: Girl Scouts has always offered camping. But you know, girls today are inside a lot. So we like to give them progressive experiences. So maybe we try a cabin first to get comfortable. Maybe platform tents, maybe survival camping.

SK: Would that be as extensive as what Boy Scouts do?

AS: Exactly. Girls can do what boys can do.

SK: Something you hear – is all leadership in Girl Scouts women?

AS: No. Obviously it's important to have female leadership... but men are also very important in a girl's life. And there are many girls who may not have a male role model. We have many professors, professionals who give their time to make sure the girls have the best leadership and development experience?

SK: Did you anticipate the announcement from Boy Scouts?

AS: Any organization has competition. That's just part of it. We have to keep going where we're going. We have so many new programs, so many things on the horizon. We're growing as an organization and we're ready to rock it to the next level. We understand what you need to do as an organization but we are here and we're excited. We know we are the organization that our girls are going to make a huge impact in our community and we're very proud of that. 

SK: Your national leader said this is an attempt by Boy Scouts to grow membership. How's your membership?

AS: We are growing. We are excited. Really what it comes down to, we are specifically focused on girls and their development. We make sure all girls are capable of developing that leadership. We have a very high market share that we are very proud.

SK: If there's a parent wanting to get their girls involved in Girl Scouts, what do they do?

AS: That's easy. Go to our website – www.girlscouts-gssi.org -- or call our office.

SK: Thanks for being here.

(This story was originally published on October 11, 2017)


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