25 Famous People You Didn’t Know Were Girl Scouts
The Girl Scouts are about more than just cookies! The leadership organization, created over 100 years ago in 1912, has over 50 million alumni. For National Girl Scout Day, March 12, here are some of the well-known female leaders, entertainers, athletes, and other amazing women who started out as scouts.
The Girl Scouts no doubt set the first female astronaut, Sally Ride, on her path to reach for the stars. Ride was a trailblazer in her field, paving the way for girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers. After her accomplishments at NASA, she established Sally Ride Science to foster young people's (particularly girls') interest in these fields, wrote books about science for children, and spoke to Girl Scouts in a science camp at the Maryland Science Center. The Girl Scouts, which notes that just about every female astronaut was a Girl Scout, has recently rolled out new STEM badges in subjects such as space science and robotics. In a post about Ride's death in 2012, the organization called her an "adamant Girl Scout supporter who changed the future." Check out 25 famous people you didn't know were boy scouts.
The industrious lifestyle mogul Martha Stewart may have learned some of her entrepreneurial skills from her time as a Girl Scout. "Girl Scout camp at South Mountain Retreat [in Orange, New Jersey] taught me the real love of the outdoors, camaraderie, and friendship," Stewart told ABC News. For the Girl Scouts' 100th anniversary, she featured Junior Troop No. 20190 from her hometown of Nutley, New Jersey, on her show, The Martha Stewart Show, with the audience comprised entirely of Girl Scout members. Here are 21 women pioneers who changed the world.
Legendary Hollywood actress Debbie Reynolds credits the Girl Scouts for helping her find her way as a young girl. "I registered as a Girl Scout, and I want to die as the world's oldest living Girl Scout," she told USA Today. "I've been one for 70 years...It is such a good program, and it helped me in my youth." In her memoir Unsinkable, she wrote, "In my heart, I'll always be a Girl Scout." According to the Girl Scouts' website, when asked by Gene Kelly if she could do a particular dance move for Singin' in the Rain, she replied, " Yes, I learned it at Girl Scout camp!" Reynolds later became troop leader for her daughter Carrie Fisher's troop and encouraged other girls to become scouts with the Girl Scout Piper Project. Read about another youth organization that keeps churning out trailblazers.
The Duchess of Sussex
Meghan Markle, who became an actress and women's activist, and later, the Duchess of Sussex as the wife of England's Prince Harry, got her start as a Girl Scout. "Gotta support the #girlscouts," Markle tweeted in 2013, also hashtagging the famous #thinmints cookies. "My mother was my troop leader!" At age 11, Markle's Scouts-inspired sense of equality led her to write a letter to advertisers asking them to change the sexist language in a TV commercial—which they did. Now Markle herself is the inspiration: Watching Markle's wedding, one young scout told ABC News she looks up to her because she is "the first princess that's a Girl Scout." Although that's not technically true: As her official biography notes, 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, was actually a Girl Guide (Britain's version of the Girl Scouts) as well.
The veteran journalist found so much fulfillment in being a Girl Scout that she continues to be involved with the organization. "I really loved being a Girl Scout and was really honored when I was asked to deliver the keynote speech at their annual convention in Houston, Texas," she wrote on ABC News' website, revealing a picture of herself in her fourth-grade scouts uniform. She has also been active in promoting Girl Scouts' efforts to get more women into leadership roles. "Girl Scouts are uniquely positioned for this goal," Couric wrote. "After all, most women business leaders and 11 of the 17 women in the U.S. Senate [in 2012, when she penned the article] were scouts." Find out 16 ways women still aren't equal to men.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was a U.S. Senator and also U.S. Secretary of State and the Democratic presidential candidate in 2018, is a former Girl Scout. Bucking gender norms, the young Clinton actually wanted to be an astronaut or a baseball player when she grew up. "I learned some of my first lessons in leadership as a Girl Scout," Clinton said in a video. "So when we were raising Chelsea in Arkansas, I made sure she became a Brownie as soon as she could!" Speaking about the Girl Scouts organization, Clinton said, "You do so much to support, inspire, and challenge girls, here at home and around the world. Thank you for everything you're doing."
Women in government in both political parties got their start in leadership in the Girl Scouts. In fact, all three female secretaries of state—Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice, and Hillary Clinton—were scouts. Rice, the first female African-American Secretary of State, was honored by the Girl Scouts during Black History Month in 2015. Rice was also chosen as one of the inspirational women that young Girl Scouts dressed as for Women's History Month in 2017. "The most important qualities in being a leader are to have a strong sense of values and integrity, that whatever you're doing, you're doing it because you believe it's right, to not just try to do the easy thing," Rice told Girl Scout Magazine in 2008. Find out about 57 trailblazing women who made history.
Music superstar Taylor Swift took the world by storm with her songwriting, singing, and guitar-playing prowess—so it's no surprise she started as a Girl Scout. Swift continues to give back to the scouts themselves with free tickets to her concerts. "She did it under the radar without any attention," one troop leader told a local paper. "Taylor Swift is one amazing young lady and a wonderful, giving role model for our Girl Scouts. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one of the many perks of being a Girl Scout." One scout even showed her love for the pop star with a viral Girl Scout cookie parody video of Swift's song "Blank Space." Find out 10 surprising secrets about Girl Scout cookies.
The actress, who played the original feminist superhero Wonder Woman, undoubtedly was inspired by her time as a Girl Scout when taking on this strong female role. Recently, Carter and actress Gal Gadot, who played Wonder Woman in the movie reboot, spoke in front of an audience of Girl Scouts when the superhero was named an Honorary UN Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls in 2016 (honorary ambassadorships always go to a fictional character). "Wonder Woman helps bring out the inner strength every woman has," Carter reportedly said. "She lives in the stories that women tell me day in and day out."
The tennis star, who broke records and boundaries, was a Girl Scout—albeit for an unspecified "short time." Still, the organization left a deep enough impression that Williams spoke at a 100th-anniversary celebration for the Girl Scouts in Dallas. According to the Dallas Morning News, she talked to the audience about trying new things, learning from mistakes, and being a leader. "What helps you stay motivated is doing something that you love...something that when you wake up in the morning, you want to be better at," she said. Oh, and she said she loves Thin Mints! Williams was also featured in the recent "Lifetime of Leadership" Girl Scouts promotional video.