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2021: A Year of Positive Firsts

A Guest Blog from Lynne Lawson Fugate, GSCSA CEO

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Girls compete in the annual Hiwassee River Raft Race.

Usually the start of a new year is met with two emotions: a hint of sadness for the past year ending and excitement for what the new year holds. This January, however, it’s a universal relief to see the end of 2020, and, alongside the enthusiasm, there is some lingering apprehension of what 2021 may bring.

2020 was a year of unwelcome and overwhelming “firsts” for many. COVID-19 swept the world, the first such pandemic many of us have ever experienced. Masks were required and we learned the concept of social distancing. Kids and teachers were introduced to virtual schooling for the first time. Businesses shut their doors and scores of employees worked from home and adapted to virtual meetings. Annual vacation plans were scrapped, and families spent holidays apart. Church services, concerts, and plays were live streamed instead of taking place with audiences. Through all these firsts, we’ve had to roll with the punches and adapt to changes, often on a daily basis. 

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Cookie booth season was cut short as COVID-19 brought lockdowns last March. 

Dealing with firsts can be exhausting. 2020 was full of them, and we’ve all experienced burnout of one form or another by now. However, we shouldn’t let 2020 be a reason for us to avoid all new things from here on out. Ensuring that girls experience positive firsts is a hallmark of Girl Scout programming. Because of this, we feel that 2021 can turn out to be a year of good firsts for your girl.

Girl Scouts gives girls opportunities to try new things in a safe environment. While volunteers always make sure that girls are never in harm’s way during any activity, the word “safe” in this instance doesn’t always equal “comfort.” Sometimes girls have to get their hands dirty; get out of their comfort zones and overcome their fears. And when the inevitable failure occurs, it’s alright because when Girl Scouts fail, they fail among friends—their fellow troop members who are also trying something for the first time.  Successes, in addition to being celebrated by their fellow Girl Scouts, instill a sense of confidence-building accomplishment. 

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Doing good can even be a fun first! This troop is all smiles after picking up trash.  

What kind of firsts can Girl Scouts experience? Short answer: a little bit of everything! Girl Scout programming is built on four main pillars: STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), Outdoors, Life Skills, and Entrepreneurship. Girls can try their hand at coding their first app or building their first robot as part of earning a STEM badge. Outdoor badges open the door for girls to have all sorts of fun firsts, such as hiking, overnight camping, learning how to identify trees, flowers, and animal tracks, creating art inspired by nature, or mastering survival skills. Earning badges for Life Skills, covering leadership skills, automotive maintenance, cooking, college applications, first aid, civics, gardening, the arts, and more let girls get a taste of real-world experiences without all the real-world repercussions. Finally, entrepreneurship badges and programs, such as the Girl Scout Cookie Program, give girls the chance to run their very own first business and grow in areas such as budgeting, goal setting, and customer service.

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Girls meet a tarantula from the Knoxville Zoo up close during our summer camp program at Camp Tanasi. 

With Girl Scout programming, the chances to enjoy positive firsts are innumerable. And for many girls, these positive firsts only happened because of Girl Scouts; had they not been participating, these experiences would have been out of reach.

We believe that 2021 can be a year of positive firsts for your girl when she participates in Girl Scouts. Whether she’s never been a member, is contemplating on returning, or has already joined us for this membership year, we look forward to being there for all her awesome firsts of this new year. It’s time to reach for the possibilities! 


Lynne Lawson Fugate
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians

P.S. It’s Girl Scout Cookie season! Discover where to buy cookies here.

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Nothing like scaling our climbing tower at Camp Tanasi for the first time!

Lynne Lawson Fugate is the Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians. The Council is comprised of 46 counties in eastern Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and northwest Georgia. With nearly 14,000 members, the Council has service centers in Johnson City, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. 

Join Girl Scouts today!