The most celebrated female country music singer and songwriter of all time has a new honor; Dolly Parton is now a Girl Scout.
"While I was never a Girl Scout when I was a kid, I always wanted to be," says Parton. "This great honor lets me live out a dream and lets me be part of an organization that stands for many of the same values I do."
Parton became a lifetime member of Girl Scouts of Tanasi Council this summer at Dollywood, her East Tennessee theme park. More than 1,000 Girl Scouts attended the event.
"When I was a kid, I wanted to be just like you," Parton told the girls.
But 50 years ago, there were no troops in her rural Sevier County community. Today, Sevier County has more than 500 registered Girl Scouts—even more are served through Tanasi Council's outreach program, which brings Girl Scouting to schools and other organizations.
"When I was a kid about all we had were our dreams, and I started dreaming early," said Parton. At just 10, she was a regular guest on a local television variety show. At 18, she left the mountains of East Tennessee for the promise of country music stardom in Nashville.
"Plan your life and do what you do best," Parton encouraged the girls. "I'm here to tell you that you can be absolutely anything you want to be. You may not want to be a star, but you do want to star in your own dreams."
Alone on a stage with her guitar, Parton performed her favorite song, "Coat of Many Colors." It tells the story of other children laughing at a coat Parton's mother had lovingly sewn from scraps of cloth.
"Don't ever make fun of people," a serious Parton told the girls. "Encourage people. Remember, their little hearts are just as tender as yours."
The icon then honored East Tennessee girls who have earned Girl Scouting's highest honor: the Gold Award. These Girl Scouts built on years of personal growth and spent more than 100 hours on individual community service projects to reach this pinnacle of Girl Scouting. Parton gave each Gold Award Girl Scout a certificate and complimented them on the badges and patches adorning their uniforms.