Girl Scouts aims to give young girls ‘safe, supportive space’

Now is the time when families are signing up kids for many activities, including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, but it’s a different decision this year, with Boy Scouts now allowing girls into the troops.  There has been some confusion, so KDKA and Kidsburgh want to help answer some questions in two stories- one on the Girl Scouts and one on the Boy Scouts.

First off, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are two completely separate organizations and are not joining together.

This story focuses on the Girl Scouts, and a second story on Oct. 10th will focus on the Boy Scouts.

At a recent after-school Girl Scout meeting in Greensburg, Girl Scouts and Brownies are learning about plant science with Phipps Conservatory by getting their hands dirty, playing with worms and measuring liquids. It’s one of many STEM activities the Girl Scouts offer for the 21,000 girl members in the 27 counties covered by Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania.  It’s why they feel it’s important for girls to have a single-sex organization.

Lisa Shade, marketing director of Girl Scouts Western PA, says, “The all-girl environment really gives them that safe, supportive space where they are free from the social pressures of a co-ed environment, and as girls get older, it’s common that those social pressures maybe cause hesitation in girls.”

This is especially true with science, technology, engineering and math, where women are under-represented.  Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania Executive Director Pat Burkart says the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will always remain separate.  “We are separate organizations and were never been meant to be the same thing,” Burkhart says.  “We strive to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place through leadership development.”

That leadership development happens by earning badges for STEM, life skills, outdoor skills, and entrepreneurship, especially through the Girl Scouts’ cookie program.  Shade says the cookie program hones “marketing skills, business ethics, people skills, and also helps build financial literacy and how to handle money and skill building in planning.”  It also keeps the Girl Scout organization financially strong, including training for the 6,000 adult volunteers in Western Pennsylvania.

Burkart says, “It also supports the organization to be able to provide the program, the support to our leaders, our volunteers, the training for all of our adult volunteers and the programming for our girls.”

Now is the time that troops are signing up girls to join Girl Scouts. You can find information on a troop near you at this website:

And be sure to check out our story on the Boy Scouts for information how that organization is different and what it offers on KDKA-TV News at 4pm on Wednesday, Oct. 10 and on after that.

To read more and to clear up the confusion over the Boy Scouts of America’s latest announcement: