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Program - What Girl Scouts Do

The Girl Scout program—that is, what girls do in Girl Scouting—offers incredible opportunities for girls to grow in their leadership skills, develop lifelong friendships, and earn awards along each step of their leadership journeys, no matter what their grade levels, experiences with Girl Scouting, or background.

The Girl Scout program is centered around the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE), and the best way to deliver the GSLE to girls is through journeys—powerful, fun, and exciting books and awards that are the core of the Girl Scout program. Each journey offers opportunities to earn prestigious awards, and at the Junior grade level and above, girls then have an opportunity to earn the highest awards in Girl Scouting: the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. Of course, earning and collecting a variety of badges, patches, and pins is also an important Girl Scout tradition that lives on, because doing so encourages girls to learn and demonstrate important skills. A variety of badge activities allow girls to focus on particular interest areas, like financial literacy, healthy living, science and technology, and outdoors and the environment. And Girl Scout ceremonies and songs continue to link girls not only with their Girl Scout peers today but also with the many Girl Scouts who came before them. This chapter shares details on each of these exciting elements of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE)

Today’s effective leaders stress collaboration, inclusion, and a commitment to improving the world around them. Girls themselves tell us that a leader is defined not only by the qualities and skills she hones but also by how she uses those skills and qualities to make a difference in the world—to achieve transformational change! For this reason, the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE)—the framework for defining what girls do in Girl Scouting, how they do it, and who will benefit that was borne out of years of research and development—engages girls in three key activities: discovering who they are and what they value; connecting with others; and taking action to make the world a better place.

Three Keys to Leadership: The Activities Girls Do

In Girl Scouting, girls discover, connect, and take action as they become leaders. The entire Girl Scout program, regardless of the exact topic, is designed to lead to leadership outcomes (or benefits) that stem from these three keys.

Discover Key

Girls understand themselves and their values and use their knowledge and skills to explore the world. The benefits intended for girls from the discover key include:

  • Developing a strong sense of self
  • Developing positive values
  • Gaining practical life skills and practicing healthy living
  • Seeking challenges in the world
  • Developing critical thinking skills

Connect Key

Girls care about, inspire, and team with others locally and globally. Benefits for girls include:

  • Developing healthy relationships
  • Promoting cooperation and team-building
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Advancing diversity in a multicultural world
  • Feeling connected to their local and global communities

Take Action Key

Girls act to make the world a better place. Benefits intended for girls include:

  • Identifying community needs
  • Working as resourceful problem-solvers
  • Educating and inspiring others to act
  • Advocating for themselves and others, at home and around the world
  • Feeling empowered to make a difference

The most powerful component of the take action key is, not only do Girl Scouts themselves benefit as they grow in their leadership skills, but communities, the nation, and the world benefit as well. Taking action translates to making the world a better place.

Remember: In order for that project to have maximum impact, girls will need to share their take-action story within your community: they may decide to use the local media, blogs, or a website; create a high-quality photo exhibit; arrange for school visits or presentations at younger-girl Girl Scout gatherings; or create a community-awareness event. Assistance in this area is available through the council Program Department. Whatever way(s) they choose, be sure the group brainstorms ways to share their take-action experience with the community, and then follows through by sharing their story.

The journey books, as well as the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award guidelines, and the council website give you more information on take-action projects.

Girl Scout Processes: How Girls Go About Doing Those Activities

It’s not just what girls do, but how they are engaged that creates a high-quality experience. All Girl Scout activities are designed to use three processes that make Girl Scouting unique from school and other extracurricular activities. When used together, these processes (girl-led, learning-by-doing, and cooperative- learning) ensure the quality and promote the fun and friendship that’s so integral to Girl Scouting.

Activities Are Girl-Led

Girls of every grade level take an active role in determining what, where, when, why, and how they’ll structure activities. As part of the adult-girl partnership fostered by Girl Scouts, you use this process to strengthen and support girls’ empowerment and decision-making roles in activities. Your role is to provide grade-level- appropriate guidance while ensuring that girls lead as much as possible in the planning, organization, set-up, and evaluation of their activities. The older the girl, the more you step back and serve as a resource and support.