With Scouts BSA recently accepting girls into their organization, there has been a resurgence in misinformation, discussions and opinions about the impact on the girl experience, safety and programming at Girl Scouts. Given the deeply embedded gender stereotypes in our society regarding roles, occupations, and appearance, it’s important that girls have a space where their individuality is reinforced and being female is seen as a positive identity, with inherent strengths. Having strong female role models who affirm that girls can be anything they want to be is powerful.
In Girl Scouts, girls learn to support and trust their female peers, they have every opportunity to speak and be heard, and to take on any and all roles and challenges, which helps girls develop their skills, confidence and leadership abilities.
While most schools and many extracurricular programs are now co-ed, Girl Scouts is one of the few single-gender organizations available to girls and young women. We’re in a unique position to change girls’ lives for the better and offer a variety of programming based off our four focus areas: STEM, the outdoors, life skills and entrepreneurship.
While both organizations put safety first, we want to debunk some common myths and inaccurate information about Girl Scouts.
- Girl Scouts only focus on cookie and crafts programs.
Although one of our most iconic programs is the Girl Scout Cookie program, our badges cover a wide range of topics such as the environment, cyber-security, STEM, woodworking, civic engagement, money management, robotics, camping, first aid, performing arts and yes, arts and crafts. And girls can choose what they want to learn and participate in. In fact, when you compare Girl Scout badges to Boy Scout badges, they cover almost the same areas. Girl Scouts does offer activities like tomahawk throwing, surfing, caving, and climbing/rappelling with a few restrictions. There’s just a handful of activities Girl Scouts doesn’t offer due to safety regulations, including snowmobiling and canyoneering.
- Girl Scouts don’t go camping or get outdoors.
We have a long history of getting girls outdoors. This is one of our four program pillars. Our outdoor programs help strengthen girls’ skills in a progressive, age-appropriate manner. Not only do we offer troop, neighborhood and summer camp in the council’s four camp properties, but we have backpacking and whitewater rafting experiences, too.
- Girl Scouts don’t do high adventure.
Tell that to the girls who have spent a week on a sailboat, learning the ropes. Or those who have hiked the Grand Canyon, paddled down the San Juan River, or the girls getting ready for their Girl Scout Destination adventure to Machu Picchu, Peru!
In addition, our camps offer activities like rock climbing and ziplining at Shadow Rim Ranch, horseback riding at Camp Maripai, and even a high ropes challenge course at Willow Springs! While the more rigorous programs are offered for girls age 11+, Girl Scout Destinations offers international travel that integrates culture, history, high adventure and service projects into each trip. International Events and Troop Treks also feature high adventure and a jam-packed itinerary, and Girl Scout Getaways provides domestic travel programs designed specifically for individual troops.
- Girl Scouts doesn’t provide leadership.
Girl Scouts is the preeminent leadership development program for girls! And that’s why we call our program the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Girls gain confidence in their abilities, develop positive values, learn to create healthy relationships, take risks, overcome challenges and develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. These are all leadership qualities that will help girls succeed now and in the future.
In fact, research shows Girl Scouts fare better than non-Girl Scouts on a number of key measures of life success. The 2017 Girl Scout Impact Study found that Girl Scouts shine above their peers in leadership, academics, career aspirations and hope for the future.
- Nothing compares to the Eagle Scout Award.
Girl Scout High Awards give girls hands-on experience to strengthen their leadership skills. The Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards are service-based awards that challenge girls at different levels. Girls take on a project that addresses a community issue and must document their work and its impact. Earning these awards is a demanding, but incredibly rewarding process.
Although it’s often compared to the Girl Scout Gold Award, earning the Eagle Scout rank is actually the closest equivalent to the Girl Scout Silver Award. To earn the Gold Award girls must take on a project that creates a sustainable change to a community issue. This is a much more extensive process that requires at least 80 individual hours of work and demonstrated sustainability of the project, besides completing the pre-requisites.
- There aren’t resources for Girl Scout leaders.
Girl Scouts provide extensive training and resources for its leaders both in-person and online. Leaders receive helpful training on the basics and then can expand their knowledge with more specialized training, from canoeing and outdoor cooking, to knot tying and first-aid. Online resources include the Volunteer Tool Kit where leaders can access programming and tools to plan and manage their year, the GS University and GSACPC Volunteer Academy.
While there are a number of organizations and activities for children and youth, every family needs to decide what works best for them. Girl Scouts remains the experts on girls, with a successful 107-year history behind us.