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gs-cookiesAs your Junior puts on her Girl Scout sash and admires the many badges she has earned; as your Daisy excitedly shows you the craft she is working on this month; as you and your hard-working girl deliver all the cookies she sold this year (and sample a few Thin Mints along the way), you may want to stop for a moment and think about the big picture related to scouting and how your daughter is benefitting from belonging to the Girl Scouts, an organization that was founded 100 years ago, in Savannah, GA.

I recently talked to Dorcas Hardy, a prominent member of the Fredericksburg community and Life Member of the Girl Scouts. Ms. Hardy's career has included public service (U.S Commissioner of Social Security), hosting a cable political magazine, authoring a book, and currently owning a public policy firm to name just a few highlights. She attributes much of her success to the values she obtained through being a Girl Scout. In addition to developing independence and self-confidence, scouting led her to many life-long friendships in the U.S. and overseas, as well as, cultivated in her the desire to give back to the community. This is something she continues today by serving on the University of Mary Washington's (UMW) Board of Visitors.

Could your bright-eyed Brownie be the next Dorcas Hardy? Will she stick with scouting throughout high school and beyond? Will she eventually take advantage of some of the international opportunities offered through the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts: WAGGS at http://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/global/wagggs/? Let's hope so, but in case she falters at some point, Ms. Hardy does have some advice for current scouts who may temporarily lose interest, as she did in middle school. Other activities beckoned and Dorcas was ready to quit scouting. Her mother asked her to stick it out, just for one more year as a favor to her, and Dorcas reluctantly agreed. She says she thanks her mother to this day for her encouragement because after that year of mini-rebellion, she renewed her enthusiasm for scouting, particularly when she started getting involved in the WAGGS and attended a Girl Guides camp in France.

Maybe your daughter is not involved in scouting. Maybe she, or you, is unsure of whether or not to join. There are so many other activities after all: soccer, art classes, gymnastics, the list goes on and on, and it can be so hard to choose! Ms. Hardy encourages every girl to give scouting a try though, saying, "There's tremendous opportunity...Scouting helps girls to grow up and mature in a very healthy way. There is something for everyone and the international opportunities are incredible."

If you'd like more background and information about Girl Scouts, either as a committed scouting family or one considering taking the plunge, be sure to visit the Girl Scout website (http://www.girlscouts.org) and mark your calendar for the upcoming presentation on Juliette Low, who founded the U.S. Girl Scouts in 1912. Part of the UMW Great Lives Series, the lecture will be on Thursday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. on the UMW campus, and is free of charge to the public (http://www.umw.edu/greatlives/calendar-of-lectures/). The speaker, Stacy Cordery, is the author of an acclaimed biography on Juliette Low. Bring your daughter, bring your troop, bring yourself, and help to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the founding of what Dorcas Hardy calls, "An incredible organization."

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