Weekly Column

Recent Weekly Columns

The U.S. Senate set a record in early January when 20 women were sworn into office.  This is the largest number of women Senators in history, and I am honored to be among this historic group.  A little known fact, however, is that 14 of us-or 70 percent-are former Girl Scouts!

 The Girl Scouts of America is the world's preeminent organization dedicated solely to developing a young woman's character for future success.  Today, there are more than 3.7 million members in 236,000 troops throughout the United States, including more than 16,000 girl and adult members here in Maine.  The program continues to inspire, challenge, and empower young females across the nation. Since its founding in 1912, the Girl Scouts has grown to incorporate more than 10 million girls and adults in 145 different countries, including more than 50 million American women.

 As a former Girl Scout in my home town of Caribou, I have such fond memories of earning badges, and I remember how wonderful it was to learn new skills.  I especially enjoyed the two summers that I went to Camp Natarswi in Millinocket for a couple of weeks.  Now, as a U.S. Senator, I am proud to be a co-leader, along with Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), of "Troop Capitol Hill."

 Girl Scouts of America recently marked its 100th anniversary.  I was pleased to lead a Resolution, passed unanimously in the Senate, recognizing 2012 as the "Year of the Girl."  Our Resolution highlighted the importance of empowering girls to lead with courage, confidence, and character.  In addition, in late February, the U.S. Mint will begin issuing the "Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin," as a result of a bill that Senator Mikulski and I authored, and the President signed, in 2009.  Proceeds from the sale of these coins will benefit the Girl Scouts Centennial Year activities and the preservation of the birthplace of the Girl Scouts' founder, Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia, so that future generations of Girl Scouts will be able to pay tribute to the history of this notable organization.

Soon, Girl Scouts will begin the annual tradition of selling cookies to their friends and neighbors.  While we all certainly take delight in these tasty treats, it's important to remember the true purpose of the cookie sale program.  Selling cookies helps teach goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics-skills essential to leadership and a successful life.

The Girl Scouts have a tremendous history, which should be celebrated and remembered. The character, volunteerism, and leadership skills that Girl Scouts build contribute greatly to our society. Girl Scouts taught me that determination, principles, and respect for others can take you everywhere you want to go-including to the halls of the United States Capitol.  It's no coincidence that so many of the women Senators that I serve with today were Girl Scouts because scouting teaches so many important lessons.  I am delighted to honor this fine organization as it celebrates the beginning of its second century of education and empowering young women.