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Girl Scouts of Wisconsin see rebound after membership decline

This comes as many youth organizations have seen a drop in members over recent years.
Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 6:46 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - After a decline in membership, one of America’s most well-known youth organizations says it’s rebounding.

Across the country, The Girl Scouts organization saw nearly a 30% drop in membership last year. Despite the challenges Wisconsin’s Girl Scouts faced this past year, leaders say things are beginning to turn around.

We’re seeing a rebound. We’re seeing an enormous interest in Girl Scouts this summer,” said Christy Gibbs, Chief Marketing Officer for The Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland.

The Girl Scouts Badgerland council serves more than 8,000 girls in 23 counties in Wisconsin. Leaders had to get creative to keep things running during the pandemic.

“This time last year, we were doing Girl Scouts camp but it was happening in backyards, living rooms and they would log on to zoom,” said Gibbs.

Going virtual in a space that’s all about community can be difficult for some families. Gibbs says many hit pause on activities but that they’re beginning to see more hit the play button.

While some families took a break this year, Julianne Sheffield, 11, and her mom Rita have continued to participate.

“In our troop and lots of other troops, we had to meet virtually over Zoom and Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts is after school when these children have been “Zooming” all day. Some of them are zoomed out,” said Rita Sheffield, Troop 8153 Leader.

With two camps and other events ahead, the organization is ready to welcome new and old members. Part of that means showcasing the benefits and how special the organization is to those involved.

Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland
Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland(Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland)

“There’s so many different things you can do. Whatever you like, there’s something for you,” said Julianne.

Rita says she’s seen so much growth from Julianne in the 5 years she’s been a Girl Scout. “She’s learned a lot of really valuable skills from girl scouts and I’m just really proud of the woman she’s becoming,” she said.

Rita also says volunteering as a troop leader has been rewarding and special and encourages other families to get involved.

“We’re like this big group of friends and we’re always having fun,” said Julianne.

Gibbs says new members are welcome as new changes are ahead. The organization is rolling out new badges this summer including honors for STEM, entrepreneurship, global action and digital leadership.

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