By Meridith Orr, Program Executive
“The symbols which you wear on your sleeve mean that you have an intelligent interest in the subjects you have chosen, understand the principles of them, and can give reasonable, practical proof of this.” – Scouting for Girls, Official Handbook of the Girl Scouts, published by The Girl Scouts, Inc., 1920
The great news is many new members join our movement each year. And any experienced Girl Scout knows there’s a lot to explore – and learn – in Girl Scouts, especially the many types of badges and emblems that decorate Girl Scout sashes and vests.
So what’s it all about?
The most important thing to know is that all badges or patches earned in Girl Scouts are meant to show a girl’s achievement and are most meaningful when a girl can clearly articulate what she has achieved. For those of you who don’t know a patch from a petal, here’s a quick guide.
“Badges” refers to Girl Scout’s National Proficiency Badges, which are worn on the front of the uniform. They have a distinct shape and color that corresponds to each grade level. For example, Girl Scout Brownie badges are triangles, Junior badges are circles, and Cadette badges are diamond-shaped.
Badges have five steps with three different options for each step, and once completed, a girl should be able to demonstrate skill or knowledge of that topic. There’s a handy pull-out chart for all available badges, including the Skill-Building badges for in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting.
And coming soon is our very own “Council’s Own Badge” program that provides girls with a unique, local opportunity that they cannot experience anywhere else. It is an award developed according to our national Girl Scout Leadership Experience guidelines, and can be worn on the front of the uniform. Only girls from Girl Scouts – NC Coastal Pines can earn one of our 10 Council’s Own badges. Stay tuned for more information our our council’s badge program, which is getting refreshed and updated as we speak!
Girl Scouts can also choose a “Make Your Own” badge! Girl Scout Brownies through Ambassadors can develop their own badge once a year, following particular guidelines of course.
What about our youngest Girl Scouts? Our Daises Girl Scouts (grade K-1) earn “Petals” that represent the 10 parts of the Girl Scout Law. Those petals are placed around a daisy center on the front of a smock or vest. In addition, Daisies can earn Financial Literacy “leaves” and Journey award patches.
“Patches” are fun ways to document a council or local area event. They are always worn on the back of the uniform. All patch programs include content from the National Leadership Journeys to provide girls with meaningful experiences on their path to leadership. Some patches unique to our council include the Hurricane Awareness patch which was introduced as a Patch of the Month this summer. Going forward, our council will be featuring one Council Patch each month, where girls across our 41 counties can explore and learn together.
My final words to live by, at least when it comes to badges and patches are “Educate, don’t decorate.” It’s not a competition for which troop has the most. It’s about exploring new things, discovering new skills, building skills for leadership, and having fun!
What badges or patches are your favorite or most meaningful, Girl Scouts? Tell us in the comments below!