When talking about what Girl Scouts is all about, people usually have misconceptions about our main area of focus. Most will argue it’s cookies and crafts while others will assume it’s STEM based on all the news coverage of our programs. It’s true we’re about one thing, but it isn’t a program or area of focus.
First and foremost, we will always be an organization dedicated to girls.
Our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character doesn’t come with asterisks and specific programs and skills she must develop to get there. It’s true we have the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, but our movement isn’t based on a rigid structure.
We believe in giving girls the opportunities they desire and the experiences they didn’t imagine were possible. There isn’t a series of boxes we check off to ensure a girl reaches her potential. What we do involves partnering with her to discover what she likes.
Deborah Hughes, CEO of the Susan B. Anthony House, Woman of Distinction, and Alumna, says it best:
“There are lots of activities you can engage in, but being a Girl Scout takes care of the whole person. You learn about leadership, you get to play outdoors, you learn skills in science and math, and you become a team together. If you become a Girl Scout, you won’t just learn one particular kind of thing; you’ll become a better person.”
With us, a girl can try anything. A quick peak through our program guide will reveal a number of different experiences, including:
- Culinary Adventures
- Car Care with Geico
- Fashion Lab
- Kidding Around Yoga
- Public Speaking
- Money Matters with Bank of America
- Taste of College
- Wildlife Studies
- Wilderness Survival
- First Tee Golf Program
- Girls Try Hockey
- Girls Go to Med School
- Girls Go to Neuro School
- Coding with Turing Tumble
Those are just a taste of the different experiences offered by Girl Scouts of Western New York. We regularly add new programs and troops and girls have the opportunities to explore the paths they want.
With Girl Scouts, you get to experience it all. You can find what you like and learn what you don’t. Our single-gender environment creates a safe space and judgement free zone so a girl can try something new without the fear of failure. When you’re in our sisterhood, you know you’re supported.
It’s the combination of all these things – the chance to try something new with your sisters and the new and interesting opportunities – that allows us to be the best option for girls.
Girls don’t leave our program with only a few badges and some cookie season stories; they continue on to be the female leaders the world desperately needs. They have the courage, confidence, and character to make their world better.
This morning, Troop 63113 was invited to the Rochester Museum & Science Center for first access to this weekend’s special program about one of Rochester’s greatest advocates for women. Surprisingly, we aren’t talking about Susan B. Anthony.
Martha Matilda Harper embodied what it means to be a G.I.R.L, or Go-Getter, Risk-Taker, Innovator, and Leader. Born in Canada, she was sent at age 7 to be a domestic servant for relatives. After 22 years, she moved to Rochester where she worked as a servant for a minister and a physician, with the latter forever altering the course of her life. Just three years after entering the United States, her empire began to grow.
Through working for the physician and a gift of one of his tonics, she began experimenting with new products that would benefit hair, opposed to those currently on the market she felt were damaging. To sell her own tonic, she used a picture of her floor-length hair to show the true benefit of using her product. One product grew into a salon which eventually blossomed into the first franchise. In fact, the second location she opened after Rochester was in Buffalo.
At its highest, the Harper Method had more than 500 salons and featured clientele like Woodrow Wilson, Jacqueline Kennedy, and even Susan B. Anthony.
Now she’s honored for her contributions to business today and her work as a successful businesswoman and female empowerment advocate in a time when it was most definitely a man’s world.
Locally, Jane R. Pitt has written several books about the life of Martha. On her site, she wondered if Juliette Gordon Low ever visited a Harper Method salon as well as her excitement over her fellow woman’s success. While we don’t know those answers, we can see the impact she has on the current generation.
At the RMSC, Troop 63113 was able to learn more about Martha’s legacy and even read Jane R. Pitt’s works about her. For more coverage, check out the news story here.