Girl scouting has an image problem, and it’s not solved by joining the boys


courtesy of Laurie Ward

Kelsey Ward, at age 12, next to the Juliette Gordon Low medallion in Washington, D.C.

by Kelsey Ward, Editor

Juliette Gordon Lowe, the founder of Girl Scouts, once said, “Right is right even if no one else does it.”

Lowe, known as “Crazy Daisy,” would be turning over in her grave if she knew what was going on right now, just weeks before her birthday on October 31. This day is also known as Founders Day.

The National Day of the Girl Child was Wednesday, October 11, 2017. On this day the Boy Scouts of America announced that girls will be allowed into their program starting in 2018. This decision has only intensified an ongoing feud between the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Sir Robert Baden-Powell is the founder of the scouting movement, and he helped Low start Girl Scouts. I don’t think that he would agree with this decision either.

I have been an active Girl Scout since I was in first grade and it has played a big part of shaping who I am today. As a Girl Scout, I feel that I  need to take some responsibility for the Boy Scouts’ decision.

If girls want to be in Boy Scouts, then we Girl Scouts, haven’t done enough to show other women how Girl Scouts can change lives and empower young women to be their best selves.

Eagle Awards vs. Gold Awards

One of the reported reasons as to why the Boy Scouts accepted girls is so that young women can earn the Eagle Scout award, the highest award in Boy Scouts.

Most people don’t know about the Girl Scout’s highest award, the Gold Award. The Gold Award is comparable to the Eagle Scout award, and it is equally challenging. The idea behind the award is to get girls to develop a sustainable project so that they can practice their leadership roles.

In my senior year, I am just beginning the Gold Award process. There’s a lot paperwork in my future. I have also been thinking about how to make my award project sustainable and original. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

The Gold Award is a lengthy process, and it is not easy to achieve. A Girl Scout must first earn her Silver Award and Bronze Award before going for gold. For this award, girls must first submit a plan of their project, including a record of projected hours, costs and the names of team members who will assist her.

If other young women think that the Eagle Award is their pinnacle of success, then I need to do more to show my friends that Girl Scouting has leadership opportunities that are equally rewarding.

Girl Scouts are self-sufficient and innovative.

Girl scouts are mainly known as the cute faces selling cookies outside of Walmart, but this isn’t all we do. Girl scouts do countless hours of service projects for the community. We participate in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related badges and outdoor activities.

Low wanted girls to be “self-sufficient” and taught them knot tying, cooking, knitting, first aid and how to read maps.

I believe girl scouting teaches these skills equally as well as boy scouting. This year, the Girl Scouts of America introduced a new campaign called G.I.R.L., standing for “go-getter, innovator, risk taker and leader.” The goal is to get girls out in the community to embody these traits. 

Girl Scouts has an image problem. (Boy Scouts does, too.)

This cookie business is an old stereotype.  I wonder why the Boy Scouts aren’t labeled for the popcorn pushing? I know I am more than just a box of  cookies. Girl Scouts gave me the opportunity to intern in a congressional office, helping people all over the world. It is a sisterhood of girls of all ages from 146 different countries.  

Clearly, like my politician mentor in Congress, I need to work on my messaging so that others can see the ways I have been empowered by this organization.

On the night Low decided to start Girl Scouts, she 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.”

Girl Scouts hasn’t done enough to promote all the great activities it has to offer, such as camps, adventure trips and service projects.

The Boy Scouts numbers have been consistently decreasing from about 3.4 million members in 2000 to about 2.2 million members in 2016. This is greater than the current number of Girl Scouts–about 1.8 million girls.

The image of scouting has changed over the years. What was once seen as a fun activity many now think is uncool or boring. My Brownie troop started out with 26 girls in it. As we’ve grown up, there are now only 8.  

I ask myself, what can I do to show the next 26 Brownies that Girl Scouting has changed me and can transform them.

Women role models are important.

Leaders play an important role in the upbringing of young Girl Scouts. A leader can make or break the experience of girls staying scouts.

My mom has been my leader for the last 11 years. She has done an amazing job helping us plan events and guiding us all through the years. She has helped us grow and shown us what true leadership looks like.

It is our job to train the leaders to make a positive impact on girls, and to be a welcoming new face to new members.

Girl Scouts’ mission is my mission.

The mission of Girl Scouts is to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.”

The only way to successfully achieve our mission is to build a bigger Girl Scout base. The love for scouting must be reestablished in this generation so it will continue to thrive and serve the world.

On this Founder’s Day, we must honor Low by promoting Girl Scouts and sparking the interest of young girls to join. This is the only way to prove to girls throughout the nation interested in scouting, that Girl Scouts is the perfect fit for them.