The Girl Scouts USA has just ended its 53rd Convention amid sharply declining membership numbers, serious financial problems, cookie boycotts due to the organization’s known ties to Planned Parenthood, and now, the threat that those who want the group to retain its former, traditional values will split off to get the Girl Scouts back on track.
As CBS News reports, for the second straight year, both youth and adult membership in the Girl Scouts has dropped dramatically. Over the past year, the total youth members and adult volunteers declined by six percent, from 2,994,844 to 2,813,997. The past two years have seen total membership down 11.6 percent, and since 2003, when membership peaked at more than 3.8 million, total membership has plummeted 27 percent.
Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez attributes the falling numbers to overarching societal factors, such as less financial stability among parents and families, leading to the need for parents to work several jobs with little time to take children to activities or to volunteer themselves.
Chavez said the dearth of volunteer adults has forced some Girl Scout councils to turn away girls who want to join. She added there are approximately 30,000 girls on waiting lists around the country.
“The need for what Girl Scouts has to offer is not decreasing – more than ever girls need our time and our commitment,” Chavez said. “Our challenge is to meet them where they are with enough caring adults to serve them.”
To draw new members, the Girl Scouts has developed online toolkits to help make becoming a member easier and to assist troop leaders with meeting and activity planning.
However, as Will Doig at The Daily Beast observes, the Girl Scouts is facing a split between those who believe the organization should return to its traditional values and principles and those who want the group to focus on more “global” concerns and issues, such as “female body image” and how to reduce one’s carbon footprint.
“We’ve got a group of people organized,” says Marty Woelfel, a volunteer with Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana. “I won’t tell you how many.”
According to the Beast, Woelfel and others are prepared to return the Girl Scouts organization to its traditional core principles and activities such as canoeing, archery, fire building, and other wilderness skill building.
Nowadays, girls work toward merit badges for analysis of how fashion blogs portray women, developing a plan to reduce one’s carbon footprint, or how to commit to an “eat local” diet plan that is “sustainable.”
“We listen to and move at the speed of girls, and research shows that today’s girls not only love camping and being outdoors, they also enjoy technology and helping the world while having fun, all of which can be found in Girl Scouts,” says Kelly Parisi, chief communications executive for Girl Scouts USA.
However, as Breitbart News has extensively reported, not all is “fun” at Girl Scouts USA, and Parisi, formerly vice president of Marketing and Communications at the Ms. Foundation, had joined a national campaign during her tenure there to punish the Susan G. Komen Foundation for trying to defund Planned Parenthood.
The Girl Scouts’ ties to Planned Parenthood, abortion, and other “non-traditional” activities include the fact that Josh Ackley – its main media spokesman – also happened to be the lead singer of a “homopunk” band that filmed several controversial videos, including one in which a woman is strangled, and another in which a young man writhes naked on the ground and appears to be masturbating. As Breitbart News’ Austin Ruse reported in January, when Ackley’s extracurricular activities were exposed, the Girl Scouts merely scrubbed him from its media page but still tweeted that “not only is Josh Ackley still employed, no one has been demoted.”
In May of 2013, a Girl Scout-sponsored event in New York City, billed as one to “celebrate women and girls” featured a live screening and panel discussion of the documentary MAKERS, a feminist, pro-abortion video account of prominent women described as “trailblazers.”
The Girl Scouts organization even stepped into designating pro-abortion Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis an “incredible woman” who deserved to be on the list of the 2013 “Women of the Year.” Additionally, on its Facebook page, the organization promoted former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a woman of “courage.”
The non-traditional, “modern” Girl Scouts organization also hired a “Girl Experience Officer” named Krista Kokjohn-Poehler, who is a lesbian married to Ashley Kokjohn.
Among the internal issues that have led to expressions of public resentment among alumnae and regional councils of the Girl Scouts have been an unfunded pension plan, revenue deficits that have led to the elimination of about one-fourth of the staff at national headquarters, and the closure of some Girl Scout camps and what has been perceived as a shift away from camping and other outdoor activities that were once synonymous with scouting itself.
Another decision that has ruffled feathers has been the business partnership with the Mattel toy company, which manufactures Barbie, and the Girl Scouts’ creation of a Barbie patch that girls wear on their uniforms, as well as a Barbie Girl Scouts doll.
Both the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for a New American Dream have called for an end to the Girl Scouts-Mattel partnership, arguing that Barbie is an inappropriate role model for young girls.
As CBS News observes, as the Girl Scouts’ membership has plummeted, the American Heritage Girls, formed in 1995 as a Christian-oriented alternative, now has over 35,000 members.