Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts of the USA in 1912. Following a meeting with Boy Scout founder, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, she visualized an organization that would prepare girls to face their world with courage, confidence, and character. On March 12, 1912, Juliette called a cousin from her home in Savannah, Georgia and said, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight.” Juliette gathered 18 young girls in her hometown of Savannah for the first ever Girl Scout meeting.
Girl Scouts prepares girls with empowering activities like camping, community service, learning first aid, and earning badges. Girl Scouts are organized according to grade with varying activities designed each specific grade level. While earning badges for these activities, the young women learn compassion, courage, confidence, character, leadership, entrepreneurship, and how to be an active citizen.
Girl Scouts’ achievements are recognized with various special awards, including the Girl Scout Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award that Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors can earn. This award is only open to girls in high school and requires a seven-step project to solve a community issue. In order to meet the Gold Award requirements, Girl Scouts must complete two Senior or Ambassador Journeys. (or one if they have already earned the Silver Award). They must also perform 100 hours of community service.
The Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest award a Cadette Girl Scout (Girl Scouts in grades 6-8) can earn. It gives girls a chance to showcase their leadership, organizational skills, determination, and dedication to improving their communities. In order to fulfill the project requirements, girls must complete fifty hours of community service.
The Girl Scout Bronze Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior (Girl Scouts in grades 4-5) can achieve. As girls and their team plan and complete their Take Action project, they have the opportunity to develop more confidence, meet new people, and make a difference in their community. To complete this project, Juniors must perform twenty five hours of community service.
After 107 years, on October 11, 2017, the Boys Scouts of America announced that girls would be allowed into Cub Scouts. A program for older girls, which allows them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout is predicted to be available in 2019. Many people’s opinions vary on if girls should be allowed into Boy Scouts. “Actually, in my opinion, I have no issue with the concept. There are many places where Girl Scouts are not as active and getting a girl into a program is better than nothing. However, one of the best parts about GS is that it’s just for girls, and studies have shown that both girls and boys do better in same sex environments,” said Girl Scout Troop 613 Leader Carmin Wimpy. “And anyone that argues that Boy Scouts is better for real life or ‘outdoorsy’ experience just has no clue. It all comes down to the troop and what the adults are willing to do. Girl Scouts is far more open to what is offered, and the experience can be catered to the girls. It is not the same for Boy Scouts.”
The Boy Scouts of America have offered co-ed programs since 1971. Girls over the age of 14 can join the Boy Scouts of America as a Sea Scout, Venture Scout, Explorer Scout, or through the STEM program. However, none of these options have offered a path to earning the rank of Eagle Scout for girls. “There are Girl Scouts and there are Boy Scouts. There is no group called gender neutral scouts,” said Cubmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster, Michael Korent.
The rank of Eagle Scout is a well-respected and highly recognized achievement, one that can have long-term benefits in academic, professional, and even military fields. While there is an equivalent in the Girl Scouts — the Gold Award — the honor is not nearly as well-known as the Eagle Scout.
President Trump heard about the inclusion of girls into Boy Scouts and commented on Twitter, saying, “Strange, I thought that’s what the Girl Scouts was for?”
The Girls Scouts is a safe space that puts girls first and offers them the freedom of exploration. Scout mom Belinda Korent is worried that in the Boy Scouts, girls will have to fight for themselves in a male-dominated space. They will be reduced to being the “girls in the boys’ troop,” rather than allowed the liberty of being whatever kind of girl they want.
The Girl Scout’s website promotes Girl Scouts as a “proven way to help girls thrive in developing a strong sense of self, seeking challenges and learning from setbacks, displaying positive values, forming and maintaining healthy relationships, and identifying and solving problems in their communities.” Girls continue to serve their communities through the 106 year old Girl Scout tradition.
Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low died January 17, 1927, at her home in Savannah, Georgia, after a long fight against breast cancer. In 2012, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
There are many Girl Scouts’ alumnae including celebrities, politicians and other notable personalities such as Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Madeleine Albright, and Tyra Banks.
Today the Girl Scout organization includes about 2 million girls worldwide in 92 countries and more than 50 million alumnae.
by emilee korent–staff reporter