Despite rumors the national Girls Scouts organization is connected to Planned Parenthood, Delaware's scout troops are refuting that claim.
The mission of the Girl Scouts of the USA is to build courage, character, confidence and to make the world a better place.
It’s been a theme since their founding in 1912.
Over the last several years, however, the organization’s positive image has been tainted as the Christian church has distanced itself from the Girl Scouts, alleging the national organization is funding Planned Parenthood. Those claims clash with the beliefs Christians hold about abortion.
The Girl Scouts organization, which is nondenominational with 1.8 million members, has denied the claims, saying it’s all a misunderstanding. But that hasn’t ended the controversy. There have since been boycotts of Girl Scout cookies; and a flurry of articles are floating around the internet about allegations.
The latest commotion came after the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced it is cutting ties with the Girl Scouts, saying the organization’s programs and materials are “reflective of many of the troubling trends in our secular culture,” according to a May 1 statement from Archbishop Joseph Naumann.
A number of Girl Scout troops throughout the country rely on the support of churches for meetings. Some Delaware troops are no exception.
The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, encompassing all of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has decided to continue its support of the state’s Girl Scouts, said diocese spokesman Bill Krebs.
Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay is comprised of troops in the entire Delmarva Peninsula.
GSCB spokeswoman Regina Dzielak said the organization has had a strong camaraderie with the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington for many years, and a lot of her troops in Delaware meet in churches and Catholic schools.
“Having a meeting place for our girls is very important, because it can be a struggle to find a good meeting place,” she said.
Amy Malinky, leader of Girl Scout Troop 379, has her girls meet at Grace Church in Dover.
Malinky said she’s had to debunk the Planned Parenthood rumors a couple of times.
“I did my research several years ago,” she said. “I was very aware of it and ready to answer anyone who had those allegations.”
The Girl Scouts are members of the global organization World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
Archbishop Naumann, according to his statement, said the Girl Scouts contribute “more than a million dollars each year” to WAGGGS, “an organization tied to International Planned Parenthood.”
The Girl Scouts said it pays dues to WAGGGS, as do other members. The national organization compares its membership in WAGGGS to the United States’ relationship with the United Nations, saying though it’s affiliated, it doesn’t support every decision WAGGGS makes.
Girl Scouts of the USA, according to its website, doesn’t take a position or develop materials on issues regarding human sexuality, birth control and abortion. It doesn’t have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood.
Shannon Tulloch, leader of Girl Scout Troop 233 in Camden, said she hadn’t heard about the national organization’s alleged ties to Planned Parenthood. Tulloch said she and her girls don’t rely heavily on the church; their meetings are at Fifer Middle School.
“It’s not something that comes up when we have our meetings, when we have our training or anything,” Tulloch said. “It is not something that has directly affected any of our girls.”
Focused on community
Tulloch focuses on empowering her cookie-selling girls. For instance, her 13-year-old daughter, Madison, is close to earning a silver award, the highest honor for a cadette.
The award demonstrates that a scout is determined to improve their community.
The Camden cadette has decided her project for the silver award will be to donate and create dog items for animal rescues like scratching posts, cat houses, tote bags and cats toys. The items will be donated to Compassion for Cats of Delaware and One Dog More in Dover.
“All the little pet rescues don’t get a lot of donations. But the big iconic ones get a whole bunch,” Madison said. “So I knew I wanted to help.”
Her mom said the items being donated are intended to stay with the families that'll eventually adopt the pets. Madison’s peers are helping her create the pet items, which is teaching the girls teamwork, Tulloch said.
Fellow trooper Caly Eachus, a senior member, said she enjoys Girl Scouts because they've taught her valuable things such as “archery, pitching a tent and the importance of helping other people.”
Eachus, 14, said she also enjoyed learning to shoot a shotgun in the scouts.
Encouraged to ‘be themselves'
Shannon Tulloch said the shotgun training, which isn’t common among most troops, was relevant and performed under professional supervision. She said there was even participation from some of her daises, scouts in kindergarten through first grade.
“My big thing with it is to teach them not to be afraid of guns and to learn how to properly and safely hold them,” the Camden resident said. “We had a couple girls who were terrified to get out there and do it, but they overcame that and they go out there and shot the gun.”
Tulloch said her troop encourages her girls to be themselves, which is anything but girly.
Her daughter is a first-degree black belt and Eachus, a freshman at Polytech High School, is a wrestler. Eachus said she wants to become a professional stuntwoman.
Eachus and Madison share a dream to become famous as a tag-team duo in the WWE under the moniker “The Terrible Twos,” said Eachus, who hasn’t quite hashed out what their individual wrestling names will be yet.
The girls’ courage to chase an untraditional career coincides with the Girl Scout’s mission to encourage members to have confidence in themselves.
“Our troop is breaking down stereotypes,” Tulloch said. “The Girl Scouts in general are about empowering young ladies and making them great leaders.”