Scout program teaches girls financial literacy

First Posted: 12/1/2014

WILKES-BARRE — The Best Western Genetti Hotel and Conference Center filled with Girl Scouts on Saturday, Nov. 22, kicking off a two-year program entitled “Change It Up!” which will teach them how to budget, spend, give and save. The event, a walk-through life-size board game, presented sound financial concepts in a colorful and interactive way.

Scouts, in kindergarten through 12th grade, made their way through the game which provided them a chance to “work” at different jobs including car washing, dog walking, babysitting and working around the house. They also had opportunity start their own businesses.

The Scouts were also able to gain a better understanding of what it means to work as team, as they made their way around the board with fellow participants.

“The game reinforces what we teach our children at home,” said Brownie/Junior leader and parent Melissa Cable. Harding. “We want to remind our children to not just spend, but to also save and give.”

Jane Ransom, president and CEO of the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, said the program was geared to not only teaching the basics of financial literacy, but also to address issues such as investments and philanthropy.

“We believe that today’s Girl Scouts will be our future leaders,” she said. “We want to prepare them to utilize their future earnings for the their own best benefit and that of the community.”

Ransom said data shows girls who participate in the Scouting program for two years or more are more likely to be go on to higher education, have a higher median income and to participate in civic activities.

Maria Parra, of Wyoming, Brownie/Junior leader and parent, said the training will be especially relevant during the Scouts’ annual cookie and other sales, which allow them to earn money for their troop and to direct that money toward a goal.

“Last year, we were able to go to New York City,” said Parra. “Our activities are ‘girl-led’ and a reflection of input from our Scouts.”

Parra said the girls also donated a portion of their money to an Earth Day effort and utilized funds to plant flowers at a local church.

Brownie Eliana Parra, 8, liked gathering with friends from her troop and getting to know Scouts from other areas.

The event was open to Scouts throughout the entire council, which encompasses 30 counties and 20,000 Scouts. The council will also offer small grants, providing an opportunity to offer similar programs locally.

Jane Koons, of Mountain Top, a Daisy Scout leader, said the girls were looking forward to a new opportunity to learn in a fun way.

The game, which allowed the Scouts to move from station to station was colorful, balloon-filled and interactive. Although participants ranged in age, they also seemed to sport big smiles as they made their way through the game, ledger in hand, trying to win a trip to such destinations as Mexico and Disneyland.

Although the day’s earnings weren’t real, the learning experience and lessons taught certainly were. A candy stand mid-way through the game gave the young Scouts a chance to spend their money on sweet treats.

“We want them to realize that spending money on one item, makes it unavailable to spend on another items,” said Ransom. “We want them to gain financial literacy and to spend with purpose.”

Participants also got colorful T-shirt and had an opportunity to participate in free giveaways.

The “Change it Up!” program is a two-year signature program and will continue offering financial literacy programs that encourage members to use their resources wisely through future games, interactive online programs, chats with industry experts and council-wide events.

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