Trina Henderson couldn’t believe it. The Tangent mom had just signed up to lead a new Girl Scout troop, and now some $80 of books and badges soon would be obsolete?
Then she learned more about the changes planned for the Girl Scout program nationwide and decided it might have been a good time to get involved after all.
“With me, it might be good, because I’m getting in at the very beginning,” said Henderson, who started Girl Scout Troop 20041 in January for her daughter, Melayna, 10, and a few other Tangent students.
“It’ll be different,” she added. “A lot of ladies who have been doing this for a long time were like, ‘Oh my gosh!’”
The Girl Scouts of America are hoping “different” translates into, “This is not your grandmother’s Scout troop.”
Organizers of the service and leadership program, which turns 100 next year, want to update their image for the 21st century. Between now and this fall, the plan is to discontinue badges that girls no longer pursue, upgrade the look or requirements of some of the current ones, and add new ones that better reflect Scouts’ actual activities.
At the same time, as they earn new badges, Girl Scouts are concentrating on a separate-but-equal Scout experience called “Journeys.” That effort, which began in 2008, is meant to bring girls deeper into the Scout experience, fitting activities into an overall theme for the year.
National leaders said the badge changes won’t be final until publication of the new “Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting” books this fall, followed by a full year of phase-in so leaders can get caught up.
So far, however, leaders might expect to see new requirements for badges such as photography (no more film to develop, for instance), and new badges on technology, such as Internet safety.
Some longtime leaders worry that the national upgrade will go too far into all that’s technological or trendy, leaving behind old-fashioned skills such as sewing, cooking or campfires.
Not so, said Elaine Doyle, the national council’s vice president of programming. In fact, Girl Scouts made a specific effort to include such opportunities in a special category called “Legacy Badges.”
Take cooking, one of the Legacy categories. Scouts will have all sorts of badge possibilities, depending on their age. Brownies might achieve one for “Healthy Snacks,” for instance, while Ambassadors might pursue “Dinner Parties.”
“They give people both the tradition that lots of people are looking for, and also offer girls a great variety of things that girls want to do that are very hot topics today,” Doyle said. “Cooking is all over the TV channels, right? It’s a great blend of past and future.”
The Juniors in Trina Henderson’s troop earned a “Let’s Get Cooking” badge at their Feb. 9 meeting by whipping up a batch of muffins. The Scouts carefully ironed their new badges next to the ones they’ve already earned so far this year, including Cookie Rally and Crafts.
“I want to earn my Camping badge, because I like camping. I’m mostly an outdoor girl,” said Trisha Cuzick, 10.
Freedom Summit, 10, is proud of all her badges, but particularly likes last year’s Water Safety badge and a badge with an artistic rendering of a fish that came from an Indian-themed camp. She said she’d still do Scouts, badges or no badges.
“I just like being around my friends and doing new things,” she said. “Also, you can express yourself at Girl Scouts.”
Badge requirements don’t matter, Trisha agreed. “It’s still Girl Scouts. Just because they’re changing badges doesn’t mean Girl Scouts is going to change.”