Archive for the ‘Girl Scouts’ Category


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!


It’s Time to Celebrate: Bridging Basics

April 20, 2015

Bridging Girl Scouts

By Christin Murphy, Adult Learning Director Year 1 and 2

Spring is in the air – we can smell, see it, and feel it. It also means that the end of the Girl Scout year is near. As leaders and volunteers, you’ve watched your troop continue to transform into girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. They’ve earned badges and patches, visited places both near and far, and made friendships and memories that they’ll hold in their heart forever.

And now – it’s time to celebrate! Celebrate their accomplishments, their new-found confidence, and their ability to make a difference in the world. One of our most long-held Girl Scout traditions (and most popular celebrations) is the Girl Scout Bridging Ceremony.

Wait, what’s a Bridging Ceremony?

The Bridging Ceremony is a traditional Girl Scout ceremony symbolizing progression, new adventures, and the continuity of the Girl Scout program. As girls move to the next level in Girl Scouting – for example Daisies to Brownies or Juniors to Cadettes and everything in between! – this ceremony is a defining moment in the Girl Scout experience.

Which is why we are here to help you plan a fun, personalized, and memorable ceremony in a cinch! To get started, follow our three easy steps Bridging Ceremony Planning Steps.

Step 1 Earning the Awards:

Your girls can complete the Pass it On and Look Ahead bridging requirements in the back of the Girls’ Guide to Girl Scouting by partnering with younger and older Girl Scouts in their area. If you don’t already have a troop in mind, try posting a request on your local or Council Facebook page, talking with your Service Unit Manager or contacting your Membership Director for a list of troops in your area. Working together with older and younger girls allows girls to not only have a Girl Scout role model, but to be one!

Step 2 Finding a Bridge:

Here we take the bridging, literally! Don’t have a bridge? Get creative! Hold the ceremony at a local park that has a bridge. Create a bridge by stacking three wooden pallets, putting two on the ground a few feet apart and stacking the third on top to connect all three. Or create the illusion of a bridge with two rows of buckets filled with sand and stakes. Connect the stakes with ribbon and ta-da!, you have a bridge. You can find even more bridging ideas on our council’s Pinterest Board.

Step 3 Planning the Ceremony:

There are endless possibilities when it comes to planning the ceremony. From Girl Scout themed baked-goods and singing Girl Scout songs, to printing out certificates or troop photos that your girls can keep forever – there’s so many wonderful ways to celebrate! Use our Pinterest page to gather ideas (such as these awesome free printable bridging certificates), connect on the New Leaders Facebook group to swap stories, or contact your Service Unit for inspiration. You can also visit our Shop retail locations or go online and order bridging kits and supplies!

Regardless of the type of ceremony, it is important to make sure the girls are involved in the planning. It is important for girls to share their favorite Girl Scout moments and recognize the significance of this award by celebrating with their Girl Scout friends and family.

For more information and exciting bridging ceremony ideas, join us on our next New Leader Webinar on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at Noon and 7 p.m. Click on the links below to register!

Click here to register for the noon New Leader Webinar
Click here to register for the evening New Leader Webinar




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