March doesn't just signify the beginning of Spring—it's the month that kicks off summer camp enrollment.
Instead of the usual recreational options, here are some alternatives that promote the development and enthusiasm for leadership and prepare young girls for long-term success.
"Having more diverse role models of success communicates to all youth what they can achieve with drive, resilience and hard work," said Judy Vredenburgh, president and CEO of Girls Inc.
—By Lauren Flick, producer, CNBC.com
Posted 7 March 2015
Beginning June 15, Girls Who Code's 7-week summer immersion program launches nationwide, pairing intensive instruction in computer science—including robotics, Web design and mobile app development—with field trips to top tech and media companies, including AT&T, Google, Facebook, Twitter and .
The program embeds classes of 20 rising high school juniors and seniors inside a technology company or university setting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Daily classroom instruction from trained instructors in computer science (CS) is paired with talks, demos and workshops led by female entrepreneurs, CEOs, developers, designers and CS majors who offer mentorship, each aligned with the subject matter discussed that week.
Girls Inc. locations across the country offer an Economic Literacy program in which girls learn basic economic concepts to make decisions about earning, saving and spending money, essential for future success. The organization also offers an Operation Smart program, in which STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) studies are the focus. Through hands-on activities and interactions with women and men pursuing STEM careers, girls come to view these as exciting and realistic options for themselves.
The Girls Inc. movement has a long history of finding ways to incorporate women into technological revolutions. It began in New England during the Industrial Revolution as a response to the needs of young women who had migrated from rural communities in search of newly available job opportunities in textile mills and factories. Economic independence for women is a cornerstone of the group.
Girls Inc. also offers a Media Literacy program to deal with wider societal issues, part of its broader focus. Students analyze media images and deconstruct stereotypes to understand what is "being sold" in terms of ideas about beauty and bodies.
The Women's Sports Foundation (WSF) is supporting a variety of summer programs intended to keep girls and young women active and engaged. It has made $50 million in grants and educational materials available to 15,000 organizations nationwide, focusing on leadership in sports and physical activity for women.
"Women possess unique qualities to be strong leaders, and when they have a voice in politics, government and business, our society as a whole benefits," said tennis legend and WSF founder Billie Jean King. She added, "This is why it is important that we give girls and women equal access to begin developing these qualities through sports and athletics."
The Women's Sports Foundation's GoGirlGo! curriculum allows group leaders to introduce a new physical activity each week for the kids to participate in, along with an educational component about the activity. The kids are encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings through group discussion. This combination of dialogue and activity develop both their physical and social skills.
"One in three girls is sedentary, while the other gets no more than 30 minutes of physical activity a week," said WSF president Angela Hucles. "Sports and physical activity teach girls valuable life lessons on teamwork, endurance, self-reliance and leadership."
Make no mistake—the Girl Scouts is so much more than camping and cookies. Just in time for the summer season, there is a first-time focus on a series of newly created badges, chosen by the Scouts themselves, called "Outdoor Explorer."
Should anyone doubt the long-term benefits of the Girl Scouts, their long and successful list of alumnis tell the story. It includes Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM; Gina Drosos, former CEO of Procter & Gamble; Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube and Karen Finerman, co-founder of Metropolitan Capital Advisors.
"While I didn't sell a lot of cookies, I did gain a valuable life lesson," Finerman said. "I learned that you have to get yourself out there, even if you're scared, and that will help you build confidence for life."
The Girl Scouts believe all of its programs, including the iconic cookie sale, have significant business lessons to instill. "Remember, just because you see girls having fun doesn't mean they aren't learning," said Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávez. "Even our iconic cookie program is, first and foremost, a financial literacy tool that teaches girls the '5 Skills' of goal-setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics."