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Historically, Girl Scouts have met in borrowed spaces like libraries, parks, and church basements. So when Girl Scouts of Colorado sold a Larimer County property to the University of Denver for $11.3 million in October 2021, the beloved dealer of do-si-dos knew what it wanted to do with the cash: build permanent digs for its troopers.
Dubbed DreamLab, the center opens in Lowry this month and will feature a climbing wall, podcast studio, and STEM laboratory. Troops located closest to the facility will use it for their weekly or biweekly meetups, and squads from across the state can visit whenever they like, including on days specifically set aside for their regions. The 4,000-square-foot building, whose construction began this past summer, will also serve as a model for similar centers across the country, thanks to MacKenzie Scott.
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This past October, the philanthropist (and Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife) donated nearly $85 million to the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, a large portion of which has been set aside specifically for DreamLabs. “We want to get this first one up and running and work out any kinks,” says Leanna Clark, chief executive of Girl Scouts of Colorado. So far, at least 12 regional councils have plans for their own versions, and Centennial State leaders want to use their $2.8 million share of Scott’s gift to help fund additional labs. “When people think of us, they probably think of cookies, and that’s great,” Clark says. “But we’re also about building the leaders of tomorrow. I know these centers will help.”
Attention to Detail
Creating the perfect Girl Scout home base requires a lot more than sweet treats.
STEM education is a cornerstone of the Girl Scouts’ mission, which is why the Lowry center will feature a multidisciplinary lab for future engineers to explore chemistry, robotics, and coding. “I really like science and math and working with my hands,” says 12-year-old cadette Bianca Morris, “so I think it’ll be fun.”
The center’s main conference area is inspired by a typical scout camping trip: Girls can sit around a faux fire, and there’s even a giant tent for top-secret discussions. “Honestly, I think our adult staff is most excited about having meetings there,” Clark says.
According to Statista, 43 percent of Gen Z listens to podcasts each week. That’s why Clark hopes the recording booth will help keep scouts involved as they age. A show chronicling Colorado troopers’ scouting journeys, from what leadership skills they’re learning to the experiments they’ve conducted in the lab, is currently in the works.