Archive for the ‘Girl Scouts’ Category

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“…to serve God”: Religious Recognitions in Girl Scouting

May 26, 2015

Girl Scouts and Faith

By Meridith Orr, Program Executive

“Still, Daisy listened to the teachings of her church and watched the example of her parents. From the Helpful Hands Club to ailing Spanish-American War soldiers, from her efforts among the villagers in Wellsbourne to helping poor girls in Camberwell, Daisy was no stranger to philanthropy.” – Stacey Cordery, Juliette Gordon Low: the Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts

Our Founder, Juliette Gordon Low, was a woman of deep faith in her Episcopalian church. She not only was baptized in Christ Church in Savannah, Georgia, she was married and had her funeral there.   Her tombstone contains a passage from 1 Corinthians 13, “Now abideth faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

Today, the Movement she founded is an organization that supports girls from all backgrounds and beliefs. While we refrain from teaching specific religious or spiritual beliefs or practices, we believe that the motivating force in Girl Scouting is a spiritual one. Girl Scouts encourages both our girl and adult members to explore their values, including developing connections between their own faith traditions and the Girl Scout Law.

The My Promise, My Faith pin is a GSUSA-created award that helps a girl explore connections between the Girl Scout Law and her faith. The steps to earn the award show her how both Girl Scouting and her faith offer similar ideas about how to act. Girls may earn the pin once a year, every year she is in Girl Scouting by choosing a different line of the law. The award may be earned in a troop setting and the requirements are published in each grade level of The Girls’ Guide to Girl Scouting.

Many faith communities offer Religious Recognitions for Girl Scouts at each grade level and corresponding recognitions for adults. It’s important to remember that the My Promise, My Faith pin does not replace Religious Recognitions. Girls are encouraged to earn both awards, and both are worn on the front of the uniform.

Religious recognition awards are created by specific faith communities, and offer lessons based on their beliefs and tenets. The requirements, as well as the awards themselves, are obtained from national faith organizations or committees. More information about religious recognition programs can be found here . In 2014, Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines was ranked 7th across all Girl Scout councils for usage of the P.R.A.Y. recognitions program.

Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines offers a Religious Recognitions Workshop to give girls the opportunity to grow stronger in their faith and honor their promise “to serve God.” Look for information on this year’s workshop when our program event guides are published this fall.

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How the Girl Scout Handbook Helped Me and 58 Million Other Girls

May 12, 2015

Girls Guide to Girl Scouting Worlds to Explore - Girl Scouts NC Coastal Pines

By Meridith Orr, Program Executive

My experience as a Girl Scout was short-lived, but made a deep impact on my life. Long after my Brownie troop disbanded, I poured over my handbook – then called Worlds to Explore Handbook for Brownie and Junior Girl Scouts – for several years to teach myself about first aid, the arts, the outdoors and travel.   How I let that handbook get away from me, I’ll never know!

Just paging through a copy in the office today, I noticed a familiar painting in “The World of the Arts” section of my old handbook – Claude Monet’s bridge in his gorgeous garden full of water lilies. I see now that it was perhaps that picture that prompted me to hang a poster of that painting on my bedroom wall all through high school. Last year, I lived out my dream of seeing and walking on that same bridge by visiting Monet’s home in Giverny.   You just never know the seeds that are being planted by your Girl Scout handbook!

I wonder if Agnes Baden Powell had any idea what might happen when she gifted Juliette Gordon Low with a copy of How Girls Can Help to Build Up the Empire in May of 1912? Could anyone have anticipated what the lady from Savannah, Georgia would do with it, let alone the millions of girls who would hold a version of it in their hands across the past 103 years?

How Girls Can Help their Country, the American version of the Girl Guiding handbook, was published by Daisy Low in the summer of 1913. Biographer Stacey Cordery wrote: “When she adapted the British handbook, she had a chance to remove badges such as Electrician, Farmer, Flyer, Horsemanship, Path-finder, Pioneer, Rifle-shot, Signaling and Telegraphist – but she did not.”   By the time the revised handbook was published in 1920 as Scouting for Girls, there were 82,000 girls registered in the Movement, a staggering number often attributed to the success and support of the comprehensive handbook.

A few years ago, I downloaded a copy of the sixth reprint of Scouting for Girls, dated 1925, for free to my Kindle. It continues to amuse and inspire me as I read over the history, principles and requirements of Girl Scouting set forth at the time. There are 47 proficiency tests (what we refer to now as National Proficiency Badges) in that edition. Certain tests were marked as specially recommended for First Class Scouts or girls at least sixteen years old, while others were marked “for Scouts eighteen years and over.” How many badges in this list do you currently find in the Girls’ Guide to Girl Scouting or in the Skill-Building badge sets?

Artist, Athlete, Bee-Keeper, Bird Hunter, Bugler, Business Woman, Canner, Child Nurse, Citizen, Cook, Craftsman, Cyclist, Dairy Maid, Dancer, Dressmaker, Drummer, Economist, Electrician, Farmer, First Aide, Flower Finder, Gardener, Handy Woman, Health Guardian, Health Winner, Home Maker, Home Nurse, Horsewoman, Hostess, Interpreter, Journalist, Laundress, Milliner, Motorist, Musician, Needlewoman, Pathfinder, Photographer, Pioneer, Rock Tapper, Sailor, Scribe, Signaler, Star Gazer, Swimmer, Telegrapher, Zoologist

While the earliest handbooks had sometimes as many as a dozen steps to earn a proficiency badge, today our proficiency badges are available to nearly all of our grade levels (with the exception Girl Scout Daisies, who earn petals and leaves) and include five steps and three choices per step for achieving the award.   This revision of the badges and their requirements no doubt reflects the busy schedules and lifestyles of today’s families.

One thing that has not changed with each revision of the handbook, are the guiding principles of Girl Scouting. Our motto, “Be Prepared” and our slogan, “Do a Good Turn Daily,” remain unchanged. Interestingly enough, our Girl Scout Promise has undergone a slight revision over the century.   Here is the evolution of the Promise from 1925 to today. Of course the Girl Scout Law has changed quite a bit from early days, but I’ll make that the topic of another blog post!

The Promise (Scouting for Girls, 1925)

On My Honor, I will Try:

To do my duty to God and my Country

To help other people at all times.

To obey the Scout Laws

The Promise (Worlds to Explore handbook for Brownies and Juniors, 1977)

On my honor, I will try;

To serve God,

My country and mankind,

And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

The Promise (The Girls’ Guide to Girl Scouting, 2011)

On my honor, I will try:

To serve God and my country,

To help people at all times,

And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

Do you still have your Girl Scout Handbook? How did it plant seeds of change in your life? Please share a special memory in the comments!

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