Beyond Cookies: Girl Scouts of Colorado Builds Courage, Confidence & Character through Theatre

Every winter, beaming girls bedecked with green sashes dutifully set up tables stacked with brightly colored boxes. Those boxes are instantly identifiable — purple for Samoas, red for Tagalongs, blue for Trefoils and, last but absolutely not least, green for Thin Mints.

“The way the public sees Girl Scouts is through cookie sales,” said Katy Herstein, Program and Events Manager for Girl Scouts of Colorado. “But we’re much more than that. We’re an organization that champions girls and gives them experiences for growth and development.”

Those experiences are intended to build courage, confidence and character in girls from PreK through 12th grade. In Colorado alone, Girl Scout membership tops 16,000 youth members and more than 10,000 adult members.

Founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia, the first troop was made up of 18 girls who shared a sense of curiosity.

“The goal of Girl Scouting,” said Herstein, “is for girls to explore, learn and try things that might not be what they do at home or even school. It’s developing girls to explore more.”

A Girl Scout troop visits the DCPA

Like going to outer space, for example.

From visits to United Launch Alliance to coordinating more than 40 participants to visit DCPA Off-Center’s immersive experience Space Explorers: THE INFINITE currently playing Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, participants have an opportunity to earn patches for their interest.

“All of these opportunities are designed under a hands-on leadership model, after which the girls can say, ‘I have a better sense of myself, what I want to do, what makes me happy and where I want to pursue my passion.’

“The performing arts are all a part of that exploration.”

DCPA Librarian Charlotte D’Armond Talbert, Ph.D. portrays Girl Scouts Founder Juliette Gordon Low at the opening of the national organization’s first Girl Scout DreamLab here in Denver, a flexible space that is a place where girls of all backgrounds can have fun with purpose.

Herstein has the responsibility of identifying events and opportunities that complement that leadership model. In addition to taking a virtual spacewalk at Space Explorers: THE INFINITE, she has worked with DCPA Groups Sales to line up Family & Friends events throughout the 2023/24 season for which the girls earn their “We engaged in theatre” patch.

“We brought 79 girls to Annie, 64 to SIX, 40 to a behind-the-scenes tour, and booked 190 tickets to Disney’s Frozen, which isn’t even until June,” Herstein added. “We’ve sold out everything.”

Bringing girls and their families to the theatre allows the Girl Scouts to see courage on stage right before their eyes. “You get to see first-hand someone who’s demonstrating skills, knowledge and passion for what they do. It tells girls and adults, ‘Here’s someone fulfilling their passion and I should pursue mine.’”

The participants also have opportunities beyond the stage. “We do have Girl Scout members who are theatre-oriented, and the behind-the-scenes tours show that you don’t have to necessarily be on the stage,” Herstein explained. “Instead, there are plenty of other opportunities to be involved in theatre. We do that a lot with Girl Scouts — show girls all of the different opportunities behind an industry.”

Additionally, DCPA Group Sales arranges bonus experiences for the troops. “Jessica [Bergin] and Elias [Lopez] have been amazing at organizing an extra experience for our membership. Often, we have an opportunity to ask questions of the performers. Everyone is thoroughly engaged to find out what it’s like to be them and where they’re going next. Experiences like this make the girls feel special, especially at SIX which was an all-female production. It just blew us out of the water. We thought the performance alone was so magical and then…wow…all of this!”

“Going to the theatre allows the girls to recognize that courage is required to get up on stage and perform. That courage of character translates to advocating for yourself and being the courageous person you want to be.”

To explore options for your student groups to get involved with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, contact DCPA Group Sales at 303.446.4829.