A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me what's new in Girl Scouts these days. As I described our unique camp wilderness trips and other outdoor programs we've offered this summer, she expressed her surprise, noting that she always thought Girl Scouting is all about arts 'n' crafts and other "girly stuff."
It's a common misconception, and I can't stress enough that although Girl Scouts can express themselves through art in all forms (for example, we are offering a fiber arts event collaboration this winter), it's just one part of the multi-dimensional Girl Scout program.
More than 100 years ago, Girl Scouts of the USA founder Juliette Gordon Low formed the organization so that girls could realize all the options before them. Gordon Low's goal was to bring girls out of isolated home environments and into nature and serving their communities. Back in the 1930s and '40s, Girl Scouts launched the now-retired Mariner and Wing Scout programs for girls to gain proficiency on the water and in the air by taking over controls during flight in small aircrafts or navigating large bodies of water.
In the century since Girl Scouts' founding, the program has changed to meet the unique interests and needs of girls today while still developing hands-on activities that engage them in unconventional ways.
Girls as young as Brownies can earn their Inventor badge by identifying problems and coming up with innovative solutions. Girl Scout Ambassadors can make a lasting impact in their community while earning the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award - the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Girls can film, edit and premier their very own movie for the Digital Movie Maker badge; get down to the roots of complex global food issues by earning the Harvest Award; and even partner with professionals to complete an apprenticeship of their choosing near or far.
Not to mention that if girls have a specific interest that Girl Scouts doesn't cover, they can create their very own badge curriculum and oh-so artfully design the badge to proudly display on their uniform.
Earning badges and awards isn't a simple matter of completing activities and decorating uniforms, either. Rather, it's meant to be a learning process for girls to grow from their memorable Girl Scout experiences, discover new interests and their full potential in the world, and carry the important skills they've learned throughout the rest of their lives.