2009-03-19 / News

Scouts molding future leaders

GUEST OPINION

Sen. Hutchison Sen. Hutchison Parents throughout Texas take pride in two of our nation's most iconic youth leadership organizations. In February, the Boy Scouts celebrated their 99th anniversary. In early March, the Girl Scouts celebrated "National Girl Scout Week" in honor of their own 97th year. Whether we led a local Boy Scout camping trip or purchased Girl Scout cookies from a neighbor, we are confident that the values Scouting instills are ones that will serve our children well throughout their lives.

The Girl Scout Law eloquently sets admirable goals: "I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do; and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout." Such values certainly epitomize many Americans' aspirations for all their leaders, whether they are doctors, school principals, militar y officers, park rangers, social workers or judges. In fact, the Girl Scouts report that eighty two percent of high achieving alumnae believe that Scouting influenced their success.

Today, more than 50 million women in the United States are Girl Scout alumnae, including my colleague Barbara Mikulski, Senator from Maryland, who carries a copy of the Girl Scout Law with her almost always. When Barbara arrived in the Senate back in 1987, she was one of only two female senators, and the very first Democratic female senator elected in her own right. Twenty-two years later, there are 17 female senators. Barbara applied the values that she learned as a Girl Scout to become an effective and wellrespected member of the Senate,

fostering teamwork and camaraderie among her female colleagues. Like many Texans, I, too, am proud to count myself among the ranks of former Scouts,

and I was honored to serve as a past honorary Co-Leader of Girl Scout Troop Capitol Hill, with Senator Mikulski.

In 2000, the women of the Senate collaborated on Nine and Counting, a book to encourage young women to overcome obstacles. Most of us had been Girl Scouts, and we unanimously agreed to donate all the proceeds from our book to the Girl Scouts of America to encourage leadership programs for girls.

Pete Sessions, Member of Congress for Texas' 32nd District, also is an exemplar of Scouting values. An Eagle Scout and a former Scout Master, he received the National Distinguished Eagle Scout Award for service to his community and support for the Boy Scouts in the Dallas Community.

Last year, Boy Scout participants included 35 of our 84 male Senators and 147 members of the House of Representatives, including 17 members of the Texas House delegation. Each year I receive more than 1,000 letters from Texas Boy Scouts working toward the rank of Eagle Scout. When they ask me for career advice, I congratulate them on the path they have already chosen; fully 10 percent of last year's Senate consisted of Eagle Scouts.

The leadership skills that Scouting instills have propelled Scouts to the top of virtually all professional fields. Scouting alumni include comedian Lucille Ball, director Steven Spielberg, astronaut Neil Armstrong, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and President Gerald Ford. Texans are lucky that the National Scout Museum is located right here in our home state at the National Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Ir ving.

I am particularly touched by Scouts' commitment to service. For example, Scouts were overwhelmingly represented among the volunteers who helped with recovery efforts in the wake of recent hurricanes, including Katrina and Rita. The Boy Scouts reported 1.4 million ser vice hours involving 15,246 service projects in 2007 alone. Girl Scouts, too, visited nursing homes, collected cans for food drives, and hosted remembrance ceremonies for victims of 9/ 11.

Over the years, in addition to emphasizing service, both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts have fostered citizenship, fitness, and character by nurturing a love for the outdoors. Nowadays, in addition to hiking, canoeing and knot tying, scouts learn robotics, business and budgeting tips, Internet techniques, and the importance of math, science, and technology.

In recognition of the important role they play in our society, I cosponsored legislation in the Senate to mint Centennial coins for both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts as they each approach their respective hundredth anniversaries. As they modernize and diversify in their quest to train tomorrow's stars, let us thank them for their bountiful contributions to our country.

Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. Senator from Texas.

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