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December 07th, 2021

girl scoutsROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 

For more than a century, Girl Scouts have brought their dreams to life and worked together to build a better world.

Earlier this month, Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland hosted a recruitment event in Liberal, and Community Engagement Specialist Ya Ya Hernandez said youth in the organization are in short supply in Southwest Kansas.

“Right now, we’re at a low percentage for girls in this area,” she said. “We’re trying to do more things down here trying to get more girls involved, especially some of the younger girls. Right now, we have more older girls in our program, but we’re hoping to get some of those younger kids more involved and have more community events and more things we can do  for our girls and support them any way we can.”

As with the number of girls, Hernandez said activities in Girl Scouts have been low as well.

“We’re still recovering from COVID,” she said. “We haven’t been able to do much. We have virtual events online where we can talk to the girls online and show different movies. We have partnered with ‘My Little Pony’ with several different activities. We’re trying to regain that momentum.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many, including Girl Scouts, to take a more creative approach to business, and though numbers of coronavirus cases have been on the decline recently, Hernandez said other factors have kept the need for creativity in place.

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“I feel like kids today have a shorter attention span with social media, so we definitely need to change an adapt to an ever changing environment and try to appeal and be there for the kids,” she said. “At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. We just want to be there and let them have fun.”

Though Girl Scouts of yesteryear took part in more outdoor activities, Hernandez said today’s youth have led the organization in a different direction.

“We do have summer camps and other summer-type activities during those warmer months,” she said. “Definitely, that’s when we’ll see more activity, but we’ll also adapt to our fast growing environment. We’ll have more technology focused things with kids who are more interested in learning about tech.”

Hernandez said she believes for many parents, there is a stigma attached to Girl Scouts.

“I feel a lot of parents feel it’s just to sell cookies or go out and do stuff, but honestly, the kids can do whatever they want,” she said. “They’re free to choose what they want to do. It’s definitely what the kids want. The meetings, they’re run by the girls. If they want to do something that’s more technology focused, they can definitely do that.”

Hernandez said parents wanting to get their children into Girl Scouts can still do so.

“I do have several paper applications, and I do have several other forms, along with a bar code that takes you right to our Web site, which is girlscoutsofkansasheartland.org,” she said. “If parents aren’t completely sure yet if they want to sign up their girls, we do some interest cards to give them more information. If they want to sign up afterwards, that’d be great.”

The COVID pandemic had an effect particularly on Girl Scout cookie sales, but Hernandez said girls adapted well to the situation.

“They would have their own storefront online, and people would order them,” she said.  “They would deliver them at their house without making any contact. There’s going to be more hype for the cookie sales now that the girls can go out and do more things in the community now. We have a new cookie coming out. It’s called the Adventurefuls. It’s a little brownie cookie, and it’s pretty good.”

Hernandez said both the pandemic and ever changing technology have GSKH adapting to a fast streaming environment.

“We need to adapt to whatever the girls want today,” she said. “We have to pay attention and see how we can cater to a specific age range or a specific group of girls. Each girl’s different and unique. That’s what makes Girl Scouts so special. Each girl brings their own bit to the table. You combine all those talents and all the creativity those girls have and have fun. It’s a chance to make new friends and do anything they want.”

 

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