As the torch makes its way toward the end of its journey, it still has a few more important stops to make. On October 12, from 8:30 am to 1:30, the torch will make its way through Tippecanoe County . At around 10:30 a.m., the torch is expected to make an appearance on Purdue University’s campus. Students from the university created the famous torch, working under the direction of Timothée L. Pourpoint, associate professor of aeronautical and astronautical engineering in the College of Engineering (1). The fact that so many Purdue students played a part in the design of the torch is a tribute to one of the state’s finest engineering institutions.
When I was younger, I had the opportunity to learn about the cool technologies available at Purdue during a summer camp called T.A.G.S. (Technology Advances Girl Scouts.) The Girl Scouts of Central Indiana sponsored this camp through Camp Sycamore Valley, which is also based in Tippecanoe County. It is one of the many Girl Scout Camps available throughout central Indiana. Being a part of Girl Scouts starting from when I was in the second grade played a monumental role in shaping my life. It was a very satisfying experience, one that also encouraged me to enjoy the natural Indiana wildlife. I also took advantage of many opportunities offered by Girl Scouts to explore other areas of Indiana as well, such as living on Purdue’s campus for a week and getting a taste of college life in the T.A.G.S. camp. Though most people tend to associate Girl Scouts with Thin Mints and Samoas, it is important to keep in mind that the Girl Scout program also fosters various beneficial skills that young girls will be able to implement as they enter into adulthood.
Youth organizations of all kinds are important for fostering important skills within every young person. What makes the Girl Scouts special is that they were initially a response to the exclusion of girls from traditional scouting groups. In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low created the first Girl Scout troop in Savannah, Georgia (2). As the organization began to grow and evolve, the main goal of the program remained the same – give young girls the tools necessary to become competent, resilient young adults who could be just as physically and mentally capable as their male peers. Constantly adapting to the changing roles of women within an ever-evolving society, the ever-present goals for Girl Scouts continue to be honing in on survival skills that are not exclusively related to camping. Though camping is a traditional aspect of scout life, Girl Scouts are also encouraged to improve communication skills, interpersonal relation skills, artistic skills, skills related to math and science – essentially, any and all skills that will encourage them to remain inquisitive about the world around them, and to always take an active part in exploring this world.
In honor of the bicentennial celebration, Girl Scouts in Indiana are encouraged to participate in activities that will help them earn a special Bicentennial patch. This patch is an Officially Endorsed Legacy Project. These activities address topics such as healthy living, the arts, outdoor education, and history. Thinking about all of the activities I participated in over the course of my career as a Girl Scout, I could have earned this patch easily. I have learned how to camp alongside other people in a cooperative manner. I have helped volunteer at other Girl Scout events, giving back to an organization that has done so much for me. I have learned how to survive on my own in the woods and how to make a tent out of a plastic tarp. I have seen productions of the Nutcracker and a Christmas Carol in downtown Indy. I have been to a wolf park and an exotic lion rescue center. I have learned to express myself artistically, and through my art, have been able to discover my identity on a deeper level. I have created a workbook that teaches young girls the importance of exercise, nutrition and self-love. I taught the lessons in this workbook to a group of young girls at the Girls Inc. facility in Franklin, Indiana the summer before my junior year of high school. The result of my hard work not only benefitted my local community, but it also garnered me the Gold Award, which is the highest honor given within the Girl Scouts organization. The activities that I have participated in and the skills that I have learned are too vast varied to detail concisely.
Girl Scouts is a wonderful program that stands for more than just selling cookies. The Girl Scout program – particularly in Indiana – helps young girls connect with nature, their local communities, and their state and country at large. Not only are they taught the value of individual expression, but they are also taught what it means to work together in a group to achieve a common goal. In a social climate where a woman’s value does not always receive the respect that it deserves, the Girl Scouts serve as a powerful institution that stands against these negative notions, and ensures that every girl knows she is special in her own way, and has a fire that can never be put out.
1. Brian L. Huchel – “Bicentennial torch returns to Purdue along the state relay route”
2. The Indiana Historian – “Girl Scouting in Indiana”