Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy 99th Birthday Girl Scouts!

I was out West recently, visiting my daughter in Arizona and my parents in California.  When people I met asked me what I do – I answered that I work for Girl Scouts.  The reaction among women was always the same.  They all gave me a big smile and burst out “I was a Girl Scout!”.  And then they told me about being a Brownie, or selling cookies, or going camping, or about their troop leader, or about their friends.  All these women spoke about how being a Girl Scout was a wonderful part about growing up.

99 years ago, Juliette Gordon Low made her famous phone call to Miss Nina Anderson Pape – “Come right over, I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah and all America and all the world and we’re going to start it tonight!”.

More than 50 million American girls have become Girl Scouts since that phone call.  99 years ago, that message was a telephone call.   Today, Juliette might have used Facebook, Twitter, or a text message.  Many things have changed since that phone call – but the core of Girl Scouting has not changed.  The Promise and the Law (both updated slightly) are still the foundation of Girl Scouting.

According to How Girls Can Help Their Countrythe Girl Scout handbook published in 1916, girls were encouraged to think about their future, about Careers!  And some of those first badges are still relevant:  Artist, Cook, First Aid, Civics (Citizenship), and Naturalist.  Some are not, such as the Telegraphy badge which required that a Girl Scout be able to read and send a message in Morse Code or the Dairy badge which required that a Girl Scout know how to milk a cow, test the milk, and make butter.  We may smile at those “old-fashioned” badges, but we have similar skill building badges today.  What all of these Girl Scout badges, past, current or future, have in common is that girls learn new skills and build upon those skills.
We are excited about the National Leadership Journeys that have been developed for each level of Girl Scouts: It’s Your World – Change It!; It’s Your Planet – Love It!; and It’s Your Story – Tell It!  Journeys are focused on helping girls build leadership skills through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.  Each Journey has specific Journey Awards – but these Journey Awards are not meant to replace the badges that we all know and love.  Remember the women that were telling me about being Girl Scouts?  Many of them still remember some of the badges that they earned.  Stay tuned for the next exciting update to the Girl Scout program.

The updated The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting will be coming out this fall, in time for the new membership year.  Each Girl’s Guide (by level: Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador) includes a Handbook Section and a Badge Section.  Some of these badges are Legacy badges, focused on topics that have been important since 1912 – and are still relevant to girls today - Artist, Cook, First Aid, Citizenship.  There are still many skill building badges, focused on building skills in many areas of interest to girls today (but probably not Telegraphy or Dairy!).  Other badge categories are focused on Financial Literacy (teaching girls how to use money wisely) and Cookie Business, where girl’s financial literacy skills are put into practice during the Girl Scout cookie sale.  And of course, Make Your Own, where girls can create and complete a badge of their very own.

Remember – Journeys help build leadership; badges help build specific skills.  The Journeys and badges are designed to work together to deliver a rich, wonderful Girl Scout experience at all levels.

We will be heading into our 100th Anniversary with the fresh face of Girl Scouting, honoring our past and our traditions, and updated for the future!