Girl Scouts prepares girls for a lifetime of leadership, and equips them with the values, strength, and drive to make a difference and succeed. At GSGLA, we believe every girl should have access to our one-of-a-kind experiences and skill-building activities. Our community partnership program enables us to reach more girls throughout Greater Los Angeles, who otherwise might not have the opportunity to benefit from the Girl Scout mission.
Through this program, GSGLA meets girls right where they are, partnering with community-based organizations serving underrepresented areas, and training and supporting staff in facilitating the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE). One of those organizations is After-School All-Stars Los Angeles (ASAS-LA), with whom we’ve worked two years to serve hundreds of girls in some of our most underrepresented communities, including South LA, Boyle Heights, East LA, Bell Gardens, and Panorama City.
Recently, we offered its participants—84 girls!—the chance to participate in an outdoor adventure—for most of the girls, it was their first overnight camp experience. GSGLA Community Outreach Specialist Maria Lupe Hernandez tells us more about the Overnight Camp Adventure and our important work in reaching more girls.
Why was the Overnight Camp Adventure (April 7-8) at El Ranchito significant for the girls?
The overnight camp experience for our ASAS-LA Girl Scouts was essential in furthering the personal development of all participating girls. The truth is, this overnight camp was a first-time experience for most of the girls attending. While some shared that a camping opportunity had seemed far-fetched due to economics, others shared that they simply could not picture themselves away from home.
But this experience was more than just camping—it gave girls the opportunity to unleash the G.I.R.L. within! Girls tackled team challenges, took on new experiences like archery, learned to make snacks over the campfire, faced their fears by rock-wall climbing, and led the evening with camp songs and cheers! Plus, the cell-phone-free, all-girl camp experience provided a safe space for girls to be present, engaged, and empowered. [See our Overnight Camp Adventure photo album!]
How does our community outreach program help us achieve our mission?
Girl Scouts has been building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place for more than 100 years—but we haven’t effectively ensured that we were providing all girls in all communities the benefits of our mission. Over the past two years, GSGLA has really focused on expanding our reach, with the community partnership program being one of the ways we’re achieving that.
Meeting girls where they are is key with this strategy. Parents and girls trust the organizations that have been caring for them after school; but in many of our underserved communities, the lack of exposure to Girl Scouting has been a barrier in expanding our reach.
Now, we are able to reach more girls by having partnership staff facilitate our program as troop leaders do, year-round—as troops do! As girls and families build a better personal experience with the GSLE, more families in our communities will hear about it from Girl Scouts: This is important, as our number-one recruitment tool is word-of-mouth; and more families from these communities have begun coming to us, looking for the GSLE for their daughters.
What do Girl Scouts in the community partnership program experience?
The community partnership program is a curriculum-based program that contains all three keys of the GSLE: “Discover, Connect, and Take Action.” We strive to provide all girls with the opportunity to experience enriching programs that blend critical life-skill development with fun, hands-on activities that support academic success. The program is simply reformatted to work within the physical environment and activity schedule of each community partner. Additionally, we ensure that each site has a comprehensive-enough curriculum to facilitate the program throughout the entire school year, keeping Girl Scouts as an ongoing experience for girls participating.
Prior to the Overnight Camp Adventure, most of the girls in ASAS-LA had mainly participated in activities related to creative arts, self-esteem building, and STEM. We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with ASAS-LA, and to have been able to bring this key outdoor experience—camping—to so many girls for the first time.
Want to learn how you can bring the Girl Scouting experience to girls served by your community organization? Ask us about community partnership opportunities by emailing Lara Branch at LBranch@girlscoutsla.org. Or, help us empower more girls in underrepresented communities by supporting GSGLA today.