Last updated: February 20. 2013 2:44AM - 261 Views

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Girl Scouts -- they are so much more than cookies and camping.

The organization calls itself the premier leadership organization for girls and backs up the claim with some impressive statistics. Eighty percent of female business owners at one time were Girl Scouts. That holds true for 67 percent of the women in the House of Representatives and every female astronaut who has flown in space.

Nationally, the Girl Scouts have 2.3 million members and that includes a strong showing in Western Pennsylvania -- 36,000 members, an estimated 14 percent of the region's population of girls aged 5 through 17.

Those girls are not all meeting in community center basements to create hand-made crafts, either. Younger scouts, in kindergarten and elementary schools, typically join troops and engage in joint weekly activities, but that's not a prerequisite for being a Girl Scout. Members can choose to attend only special programs, such as a series on energy conservation, or they can decide to participate just in special events, such as the annual group outing to a University of Pittsburgh women's basketball game (which is scheduled for Saturday). In addition to camping, scouts can sign on for other trips; for instance, some troops use money they earn from cookie sales to make college visits.

Girl Scouts USA has set an ambitious goal of achieving gender equality in all forms of national leadership within a generation. The Girl Scouts organization has evolved and adapted throughout its 101-year history. Don't worry, though. Some Girl Scout traditions remain. Girl Scouts still sell cookies. They're taking orders now through Jan. 25, for delicious deliveries scheduled in mid-February.

Get them while you can, with the knowledge that the dollars those sales raise will allow the Girl Scouts to continuing advancing opportunities for girls and young women.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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