Girl Scouts of Central & Southern NJ: Moving Girl Scouts Forward at the Speed of Girls

DreamLab Ribbon Cutting

Even as a young girl growing up, Genevieve “Ginny” Hill was driven to be of service to others. 

Each year, she watched the Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy and organized neighborhood carnivals to raise money to help find a cure. As a Girl Scout, she attended camp, sold cookies and learned to be a leader. So maybe it was inevitable that she would continue that life of service as an adult in the role of CEO of Girl Scouts of Central & Southern New Jersey (GSCSNJ) since 2013.

Ginny Hill, CEO

“There are 60 million women in the United States who have been a Girl Scout or have been involved with Girl Scouting, and we have a responsibility to help shape the next generation through empowering, transformational experiences, so they will one day count themselves among that group,” says Hill. 

“Women are collaborative leaders. There are so many untapped creative ideas and so much potential left behind when women are left on the sidelines or don’t have a voice,” she says. “We help them find their voice.”

The GSCSNJ is a large council, supporting 13,500 girls and almost 9,000 adult volunteers in nine counties (including Atlantic, Burlington, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem). In 2022, 70 Girl Scouts earned a Gold Award and another 111 earned a Silver Award, the two highest awards in Girl Scouts. The projects the girls completed to earn these awards have long-lasting positive impacts on their communities and lifelong impacts on the girl.

“I’ve had mentors who encouraged me to try things I didn’t know I’d like, to push myself, to take risks,” says Hill. “It’s important that I help prepare these talented young girls to recognize and make the most of the opportunities that will come.”

An Evolving Mission
Founded in 1912, the Girl Scouts has stayed current with programming in  cybersecurity, technology, aerospace engineering, robotics and entrepreneurship. According to Hill, the original parts of the Girl Scouts’ mission haven’t changed because there are still societal issues that marginalize women and girls. “Until that changes,” she says, “there is still a role for that early mission focused on building a sense of self, of confidence, and the ability to make choices.” 

Its most recent innovation has been the opening of a DreamLab, the third such facility in the country and the first on the East Coast. 

The DreamLab, located in New Brunswick, is a state-of-the-art space – designed with input from Girl Scouts and community partners – where girls gather to discover, create and collaborate. They can learn to boulder on an indoor climbing wall, try their hand at podcasting, perform on stage or in a video booth, practice camping skills indoors, and work on STEM projects. Here, they can take their scouting experience to the next level.

The DreamLab concept is a nationally branded innovation. “It was developed with input from Girl Scouts all over the country,” says Hill. “We want this space to be versatile. The possibilities are truly limitless.”

GSCSNJ has always been a council that works hard to implement new curricula and new technology, and to offer innovative programming. “Our mission is to build girls and women of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place,” says Hill. “Girls thrive as they are empowered to be go-getters, innovators, risk-takers and leaders.”

More than Cookies
Many people are familiar with the iconic Girl Scout cookie program, but they may not realize the program teaches decision-making, business ethics and goal setting, people skills and managing money, all while having fun – just another way of empowering girls and building tomorrow’s leaders.

Hill cites the value of “little things” that can make huge differences in girls’ lives and says the impact of the adult role models in Girl Scouts cannot be overstated. She remembers the time a girl came back to her years after her Gold Award ceremony and said she was encouraged to do more community service simply because Hill shook her hand and congratulated her at that event.

“You never know when that one thing will change a girl’s life,” she says. “And the beautiful thing about Girl Scouts is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all program. Girls can find their spot and be who they are in it.

“I see myself as a servant leader,” she says. “We are mission-oriented, of service to our girls and volunteers, and I see the glass as more than half full, focusing on what each of us has, and what we can do with that.” 


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