Girl Scouts: We do more than sell cookies

TAYLORSVILLE — The Girl Scouts sorting fruit and other food items at a community food pantry Saturday had plenty to say about the recent announcement that the Boy Scouts of America will now admit girls.

"It kind of frustrates me a little bit," said Kylie Peasley, 15, who joined other Kearns Troop 778 members at the "Building a Better Utah" service project at the Taylorsville Food Pantry, 4775 Plymouth View Drive.

Kylie said some of her friends are interested in joining the Boy Scouts to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, even though the Girl Scouts offer a similar recognition.

"We have the Gold Award," she said. "I think it’s kind of been devalued a little bit because all the focus is on the Eagle award and stuff. No one really hears about the Gold Award, which is kind of like the equivalent to the Eagle award, but it’s for girls."

But another member of the troop, Ariana Veronica, 14, said the Boy Scouts might be a better option for some of her female classmates. A new Boy Scouts program for girls seeking to earn the Eagle Scout rank is expected within two years.

"A lot of girls are drama," Veronica said. "When you come into Girl Scouts, you want to be together, and you want to try to push all that away so you can have somewhere where you can just be friends and relax and have fun."

Some girls "think that Girl Scouts is just too girly for them or something like that," she said, "and may feel more comfortable in the Boy Scouts, in part because they don’t realize what Girl Scouts actually do besides sell cookies."

"You get to help people, which is a reward itself, so you get to know that you’re doing good and making a difference in the world — which is awesome," Veronica said. "It’s for older girls, too. We can get in there. We can help people."

Snugged into a patriotic-themed Girl Scouts of Utah hoodie on the cold morning, Amber McAuliffe said she hadn’t heard about the Boy Scouts’ plans, which also include starting separate girls Cub Scout dens next year.

"I think it’s kind of cool," she said, then paused.

"But honestly, Girl Scouts should be more announced to the world. I feel like not very many girls know about the opportunity that Girls Scouts give to the girls," Amber said. "Really, the only thing we’re known for is the Girl Scout Cookies."

For her, being a Girl Scout the past two years has made a big difference in her life.

"I’ve been more happier. I’ve been involved more. I want to do more things," Amber said, especially service projects.

A school counselor told her Girls Scouts is "an amazing thing" to put on a college application, she said.

"Every Girl Scouts shirt I get, I wear to school and I wear it proudly. Everyone asks me, ‘Hey, are you a Girl Scout?’ And I proudly say, ‘Yes.’ Because I feel like that is part of what defines me as an individual," Amber said.

In a statement posted to the GirlScouts.org blog the same day as the announcement by the Boy Scouts says Girl Scouts have been the "girl experts" for more than a century.

"The need for female leadership has never been clear or more urgent than it is today — and only Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need for success," the statement read.

Like the official Girl Scouts statement, Clarice Garcia, leader of West Jordan Troop 262, didn’t comment directly on the decision by the Boy Scouts to allow girls to participate.

"But what I can tell you is that we have an amazing program," Garcia said, "and we believe firmly and passionately about girl-led programs that are specifically for girls."

The Taylorsville service project also involved younger Girl Scouts decorating boxes that will be used to distribute food items. It was one of more than two dozen across the state Saturday.

"We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing," Garcia said. "We have girls who go on to do amazing things through Girl Scouts, and if this makes people more aware of that, awesome."

Email: lroche@ksl.com Twitter: DNewsPolitics

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