Rachel Broussard and Keesha Buteau of the Girl Scouts of Louisiana – Pines to the Gulf, join us today. We’ve invited Rachel and Keesha to share the Girl Scout story. And, as many diehard fans know, it’s almost time for the annual cookie sale.
Rachel Broussard serves as CEO of Pines to the Gulf and has over 20 years of service with the organization. A Kaplan native, she graduated from UL-Lafayette. Her background in the military afforded her the opportunity to attend college as her tuition was covered as a benefit of her service on behalf of our country. She first worked for Acadiana Youth, and then joined the Girl Scouts in what was then known as Bayou Girl Scout Council covering 13 parishes in the Acadiana region.
Keesha Buteau serves as Chief Operating Officer and began her service with the Scouts in January 2006. A Lafayette native, she graduated from Acadiana High School and was inspired by participating in Girls State. While she originally thought she wanted to go into law and had the opportunity to work with the District Attorney’s office in the Juvenile Division, her heart broke as she saw the “kids in shackles, little kid chain gangs.” She realized that she wanted to help young people before they got into trouble. While her parents were originally a bit dismayed by her shifted career focus, she has never regretted her commitment to serving youth and believes the Girl Scouts is a perfect fit.
Today, Girl Scouts of Louisiana – Pines to the Gulf serves girls in the 42 parishes west of the Mississippi River. Participants can be as young as Kindergarten and go through 12th grade. While COVID has been tough on everyone, both agreed that incorporating technology such as Zoom has been a godsend in helping organizations learn how to communicate more effectively.
The Girl Scouts members are all female and focus solely on girls and its activities are only participated in by girls. While there is a place for the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scout organization stands firm that single-sex programming is beneficial to young girls who are fighting to find their way in the world.
The Girl Scouts were founded in Savannah, Georgia by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912. The programming has consistently focused on service and the Girl Scout Promise rings true of what you expect from young leaders: “On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, to live by the Girl Scout.”
The goal of the Scouts is to help the girls grow as they learn positive values, to take their skills into their communities, and make a positive difference. “That is at the core of who we are as Girls Scouts,” according to Rachel Broussard, “to make lasting and respectful connections, and to go out and solve problems in our communities.”
Keesha’s daughter is a Girl Scout Cadet at 11 years of age, having started with the scouts in kindergarten. As her mom, Keesha limits outside activities to 2 or 3 at a time to preserve family time, and her daughter always puts Scouts at the top of the list of what she wants to participate in. The interaction with her daughters’ troop continually inspires Keesha to see the value of scouting.
“Be a Friend First” is a valued program that teaches self-confidence, how to have healthy habits and relationships. It is a great tool to help young girls, especially in sixth grade, as their world begins to change as everyone is maturing. Self-discovery of who they want to be is encouraged.
The little ones, as early as five years old and all the way up to eighteen years, learn to manage their own cookies sales. “Although the cookie sales are held each February/March, the girls start setting their goals in November. Each scout makes decisions on how to strategically market her product, learn to be graceful when rejected, how to hold her own as she navigates money management and people skills,” says Rachel Broussard. They are known as “Cookie CEO’s”
We thank Rachel Broussard and Keesha Buteau for their dedication in teaching life skills to our youngest! For more information on Girls Scouts – Pines to the Gulf, please visit https://www.gslpg.org/.