By, Lidia Soto-Harmon, CEO Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital
From September 15–October 15, Americans observe Hispanic Heritage Month in celebration of the history, culture, and contributions of American citizens whose families came from Mexico, Central and South America, Spain, and the Caribbean. The 30-day period is a festive acknowledgment of the important contributions the Hispanic communities have made in our country.
As a Latina, I am inspired and humbled by so many who have worked hard to contribute to this country, and at the same time celebrate their cultural heritage. I am grateful to be the CEO of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, an organization that embraces diversity.
Recently, we held our seventh annual Encuentro de Chicas Latinas conference. Over 150 Latina girls, representing every area of our region, participated. For many of the girls, this was their first experience with Girl Scouts and staying at camp. This year, the setting was our very own high-adventure Camp May Flather. Girls participated in traditional camping activities, special challenge courses, climbing the tower, archery and swimming.
This was intermingled with workshops led by amazing speakers from the Greater Washington Region, including dynamic mother and daughter duo Brigitta Torino and Brigitta White. They talked about their entrepenurial spirit and how they founded their businesses. All speakers discussed careers, their personal journeys and encouraged the girls to explore their leadership potential. Girls were exposed to the wonders of science, experimenting by taking samples from the stream, and the Dell Connect workshop gave the girls an opportunity to use laptops to create a leadership video.
The girls were taken on a field trip to James Madison University where they toured the campus and experienced the dining hall. We purposefully included the college visit as part of the conference, so that Latina girls can envision their future, complete with a college degree. We achieved our goal at Encuentro, inspiring the next generation of girl leaders. Many of the girls will return to their communities, start Girl Scout troops and do important community service.
I remember when I first came to the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. We held an event for parents of Latina girls to explain in their native language how their daughters would benefit from Girl Scouts. They met and talked with young bilingual Latina Girl Scouts, and heard how sleep-away camp had given them more confidence and more courage. I know that it is often difficult for parents to let their daughters go-away from home, and I am grateful for the trust and confidence these parents have in Girl Scouts.
Join me in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month and support young Latina future leaders with opportunities by investing in Girl Scouts!