In just a matter of weeks, Girl Scout cookie fans can start ordering the S’mores Cookie and other favorites including Thin Mints, Carmel deLites, and Lemonades! For most Girl Scouts, participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program is an opportunity to learn and sharpen their financial literacy and business skills. Our young Girl Scout entrepreneurs will utilize these skills for the rest of their lives. Throughout the coming weeks, we will share stories of some local successful business women who are also Girl Scout alumna, as well as profiles of local Girl Scouts who are cookie sellers extraordinaire. You will see why Girl Scouts has been touted a key driver of workforce development for women for over a century.
Maria Johnson Darby
Director of Development & External Relations
Honors & Awards: Maryland Top 100 Women, Daily Record Circle of Excellence, Baltimore Business Journal Top 40 Under 40, Spirited Woman of Baltimore, Junior League Sustainer Spirit Award, Junior League of Baltimore President’s Award, Cambridge Who’s Who Registry of Executives
1) What of your Girl Scout experience is most memorable?
Girl Scouting pushed me out of my comfort zone in many ways. What I remember most fondly is going to Camp Conowingo with my troop. Of course, that camp is very big but when I was young is just seemed HUGE and SOOOOO far away; it felt like we were going on a true adventure. We went hiking, swimming, built campfires, cooked over a campfire, sang songs, told ghost stories and caught lightening bugs. At camp, I slept outside for the first time and learned how to read a compass. We took turns being a leader AND a follower and to work together as a team to accomplish our goals. I remember swimming in the huge “lake” (which when I saw it as an adult turns out to be a small pond) and making it ALL the way across the lake was a big accomplishment. We cheered each other on and were so happy when we all made it across. The best thing about Girl Scouts and all my memories are filled with lots of laughter, smiles and joy!
2) Do you believe you learned skills as a Girl Scout that have helped you succeed in college or the work place?
Girl Scouts is where I first remember being told that girls could be leaders. I remember that my troop leaders were very focused on us learning how to identify our goals, develop a plan of action, figure out which role each girl in the troop had and then working together to reach the goal. We learned, what I now know is, consensus building and leadership by example. We were told by our leaders and our mom volunteers that we could do anything we wanted as long as we developed a plan and worked to bring that plan to fruition. To this day, I credit Girl Scouts with helping to develop my leadership skills and perhaps, more importantly, my self-confidence to know that I could achieve whatever I set out to do.
3) In retrospect, do you believe the girl-only space created in Girl Scouts was helpful or empowering to you?
Definitely! Girl power was central to my development. I had plenty of co-ed environments outside of Girl Scouting. Girl Scouts gave all of the girls in my troop the opportunity to be leaders, to be girls without the pressure of boys around AND it facilitated diverse friendships with girls from my community.
4) Do you believe girl-only spaces created by all-girl organizations like Girl Scouts is important?
Absolutely! Girls need to have opportunities to develop their skills, to test their boundaries and to explore new horizons on their own. Why do we never hear organizations for boys asking these questions?!?!?! Why do girls and women’s organizations constantly feel like we have to defend the fact that we are girls-only? I rarely, if ever, hear a boys or men’s organization asking those questions.
5) What do you believe are the most important skills or characteristics you gained from Girl Scouts?
Leadership. Strength. Power. Love of the environment. Respect for others. Confidence. Respect for and understanding of diverse experiences and perspectives.
6) Is Girl Scouts still relevant today?
Absolutely! We need everything I said earlier but even more so.
To unleash your inner entrepreneur through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, join today!