This Saturday, women and girls of all ages, ethnicities, professions – and from all parts of the country and abroad – will descend upon the nation's capital to celebrate a milestone in an organization with a rich and storied past that dates back to the early 20th century.
The Girl Scouts of America will celebrate a century of history, progress and leadership on the National Mall with an estimated 200,000 former and current Girl Scouts to commemorate the organization's 100th anniversary, during "Girl Scouts Rock the Mall." The event will be marked by a sing-along.
"Everything from the camping trips, to the community projects, to the fundraising taught me to work as a part of a team," said Washington Mystics center Ashley Robinson.
"When the team worked together, the team had success. I've carried that mantra throughout my entire life. I've been a part of successful teams in college and on the professional level. Thanks to the Girl Scouts, I know that teamwork provides success. I'm excited about the Girl Scouts 100th anniversary because it's an organization that has benefitted women for decades."
Along with Robinson, organizers said celebrities, dignitaries and athletes from other sports will participate in the June 9 sing-along.
Robinson, a nine-year WNBA veteran grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas with her parents and two sisters. She's extremely familiar with success and girls' leadership particularly after playing college basketball at national powerhouse the University of Tennessee.
The middle daughter in her family, Robinson joined the Girl Scouts at age 7.
"I really enjoyed being a Girl Scout. It represented a great opportunity for girls to come together for a common cause," she said.
On March 12, 1912, Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low assembled 18 girls from Savannah, Ga., for a local Girl Scout meeting. She believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop leadership skills as well as developing physically, mentally, and spiritually. The goal was to bring girls out of isolated home environments and into community service and the open air. Girl Scouts hiked, participated in camping trips, played basketball, learned to tell time by the stars, and studied first aid. At a time of segregation and before laws promoting civil rights were passed, Low ensured that African-American, American Indian and Hispanic girls were able to become Girl Scouts. She led efforts to make Girl Scouting available to all girls coast-to-coast.
Girl Scouts have a long tradition of holding sing-alongs on the National Mall and gathered on the Mall to celebrate their 85th, 90th, and 95th anniversaries.
Robinson leads on and off of the court – traits she acquired while in scouting. She enjoyed a stellar career playing under legendary coach Pat Summitt. In 2010, Robinson played for the WNBA Champion Seattle Storm. During her off-seasons she has played internationally in countries that include the Czech Republic, Israel, Australia and Turkey. But, she admits that Grand Prairie is still home and that's where she serves as an advocate for victims of domestic violence.
In the Girl Scouts, girls discover friendship, fun, and the power of unity.
Through various experiences, such as sports skill-building clinics, community service projects, cultural exchanges, field trips, and environmental stewardships, girls develop stamina, strength and courage.
"I was always fascinated by our Girl Scout cookie drive. I remember wondering who baked these cookies, who packaged them, who made the packages, how were they shipped to me," said Kimberly Miller, a 40-year-old UPS executive from Indianapolis.
"Being a girl scout taught me to be thorough and comprehensive. So I researched the entire Girl Scout cookie process from end-to-end. There wasn't a single question anyone could ask me about those cookies that I couldn't answer. I've carried that same spirit of thoroughness throughout my life, and it has led me to an excellent career with UPS."
There's strength in numbers.
The Girl Scouts boast 3.7 million worldwide members, and 59 million alumnae, across 92 countries. Every year, in nearly every zip code in America, Girl Scouts provide a total of more than 70 million hours of direct service to communities.
"The greatest thing that Girl Scouting taught me is the importance of leadership," said Marissa Brown, an 18-year-old junior who attends the University of Maryland at College Park.
"As an 11th-grader my leadership skills enabled me to become president of my 25-girl troop. In that same year, I served as a board member of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital. As one of only two teen board members it gave me the opportunity to share my perspective with the board on what teen girls really want and need," Brown said.