For many people, Girl Scouts are synonymous with cookies (Thin Mints, anyone?) and camping trips. But there is so much more to the organization, and its activities benefit millions of girls each year. As National Girl Scout Day approaches, on March 12th, we’d like to recognize some of the ways in which this group has helped us spread the word about healthy skin and sun safe behaviors.
Founded by Juliette Gordon Low over 100 hundred years ago, the Girl Scout mission is simple but powerful: “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”
At the Foundation, we share many of these same values and it probably comes as no surprise that many of our own staff members were Girl Scouts. Since 1979, one of SCF’s main objectives has been to reach young people, encouraging them to embrace their natural skin tones through our Go With Your Own Glow campaign and Sun Smart U, a free skin cancer prevention lesson plan.
Over the years, we’ve joined forces with the Girl Scouts to spread a message of confidence and encourage sun safe behaviors. In the 1990s, we developed a teaching module for the organization. In 2002, we worked with the group on an issue of Flash, a Skin Cancer Foundation publication featuring skin cancer prevention tips for children.
Considering this history of a shared vision and commitment to reducing skin cancer incidence, we were absolutely thrilled to learn that the Girl Scouts offer a sun safety patch for members of all ages. To earn the patch, scouts must learn about the steps they can take to protect their skin from harmful UV rays. For younger Girl Scouts, one activity is “disappearing shadows” where girls are challenged to look at the length of their shadows to determine whether they should seek the shade. In another activity, young girls are encouraged to get “sun-dressed” for an upcoming trip; in this exercise, members must create a packing list where they plan upcoming activities and identify the most appropriate clothing to keep them safe while outdoors.
In addition to learning about sun safe behaviors, members must also sign a “Sun Safe Promise” to earn the patch. With this pledge, girls agree to continue to practice sun safety and educate others about skin cancer prevention.
If you are a troop leader or parent of a Girl Scout, we encourage you to explore this great program. Not only does it teach young girls best practices for protecting their skin and eyes from UV rays, but it also creates young sun safety ambassadors who will help to spread the word about skin cancer prevention for years to come!