When I joined the Girl Scouts as a child in the (ahem) early 80’s, the beginning level was Brownies. We sold calendars in the Spring and Cookies in the fall/early winter. I proudly wore my brown jumper, sash, socks and penny loafers to school on days I had meetings. I’m pretty sure my dad still has my brownie sashes – I had 2 because of all the patches I earned.
We started every meeting by saying the Pledge and then reciting the Girl Scout Promise and Law. We collected dues and checked the kaper chart for our jobs. We did crafts and we knew what badge or skill patch we were earning through doing the craft. We ended every meeting with the Friendship Circle. We sang songs, we played games. We camped. We made true, deep lasting friendships. And we learned. We learned moral lessons, we learned how to treat other people and we learned how to protect and defend ourselves.
Fast forward 30 some years and I am now a proud mother with a daughter of my own. She recently joined a Scouting world I don’t recognize and she attends meetings which are run in ways I don’t recognize. Scouting now begins for girls as young as 5 years old, with the new Daisy level. My little girl will wear blue this year instead of the brown I began my adventures wearing. The patches she will earn this year will be the center piece and petals of a daisy. Here she is, wearing her brand new tunic:
Her meetings don’t start with the Pledge. The leader doesn’t use a kaper chart – the girls aren’t held responsible for anything at all except their own behavior - dues aren’t collected in any recognizable manner. The girls do crafts but they aren’t told why they’re doing the crafts – they just think they are having “fun time”. They aren’t being taught anything. They aren’t being led. The meetings aren’t organized. The leader forgets to cover key components that should be a part of every meeting.
Is this what Girl Scouts has become? I don’t want to believe it. My daughter - and all daughters in Scouting – should be getting so much more out of Scouts; this can’t be the norm. I have decided to give it the benefit of the doubt this year as I work out some health issues. However, I do believe next year I’ll be joining the illustrious ranks of the Girl Scout leaders.
Do you have experiences to share? Please drop me a line!