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Girl Scouting Helps Stem the Tide of Girls Growing Up Too Fast

Wednesday, April 27, 2011   (1 Comments)
Posted by: jennifer punch
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Girl Scout leaders are doing their best to keep 'tween (9- to 12-year-olds) girls from acting like teenagers. Pam Powell, a ten-year veteran Girl Scout leader from Ypsilanti, has seen the evidence of too early maturity in the fourth and fifth graders she leads.

"They all have iphones, they all have ipods, they know every word of every hit song, even the lyrics that we parents don’t want them to know,” she said. "They are all worried about being pretty.”

"I tell them that it’s okay to worry about being pretty, but wearing a certain kind of clothing and looking a certain way is not what makes you pretty. ‘Pretty’ comes from within,” said Powell.

Nancy DeWolf, leader of Girl Scout Junior Troop 41636, agrees. "Society in general does push girls, especially, to grow up much faster than they need to. Girl Scouting can help by diverting attention from the pressure of media images.” DeWolf leads a group of Girl Scout Juniors (fourth and fifth graders) from five different elementary schools in Brighton, part of Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan.

"Girls are pressured to grow up much faster than they used to,” said Daphne Stacy, also of Brighton, whose daughter Ciarra enjoyed Girl Scouting when she was younger. "Girl Scouting was wonderful because it helped the girls take a look at the values that are really important in life,” she added.

Powell sees Girl Scouting as an avenue for girls to experience activities that broaden their point of view so that they are not concerned with just what their peer group thinks.

"For example,” said Powell, "the living history re-enactments that Meredith Brown did as her Girl Scout Gold Award project three years ago had such an impact on my daughter. By being a re-enactor, she has learned how the world has changed for girls and now she is sharing that knowledge with others. She never would have had that opportunity without Girl Scouts,” said Powell.

Her daughter Cindy now volunteers as a story teller at the maple sugaring workshops at Camp Crawford in Milan in late March. The Girl Scouts learn how the Native Americans tapped sugar maple trees for sap to make maple syrup. "The re-enactments spark conversation about how girls lived in the early 1800’s and how different their lives were from girls’ lives today,” said Powell.

She previously helped lead her daughter’s troop through the new Girl Scout Journeys "AMAZE” curriculum on relationships, including units on peer pressure, bullying and cyberbullying. She said the girls learned how to recognize bullying and how to build their self-confidence to counter bullying.

"In Girl Scouting, we are putting the emphasis on courage, confidence and character,” said Powell. "We are preventing what I call ‘erosion of character’ from the inside out. We’re building them up from the inside, so that they can resist the pressures coming at them from the outside world.”

Char Luttrell is a Communications Specialist for Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan. You can reach her at


Cheryl Heneveld (Overin) says...
Posted Monday, May 02, 2011
I think the Amaze program and what Char Luttrell is doing should be shared with other troups and councils. The pressure on girls is intense-- my four year old grandchild wants to be like lady gaga! The clothing industry seems to me also to blame with small clothes that look like nightclub styles. Check out those ads.

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