I read an interesting article recently from the Washington Post titled Blogs In, Badges Out as Girl Scouts Modernize. As a marketer by profession and life-long Girl Scout purist and enthusiast, this naturally piqued my interest on multiple levels.
Long associated with images of dorky vests and singalongs around the campfire, the 97-year-old Girl Scouts of the USA is trying to become cool. Or at least cooler.
With enrollment dropping sharply, the organization is experimenting with a total makeover of the Girl Scout experience.
What’s in: books and blogs written in girls’ voices on topics such as environmental awareness and engineering; troops led by college students; videoconferencing with scouts in other countries.
What’s out: textbook-style lessons on the value of helping others; shunning the Internet; moms as troop leaders for teenagers.
Thin Mints are not in jeopardy, but — OMG! — badges will be de-emphasized.
“We took a step back and asked, ‘What do girls need from us right now?’ ” said Eileen Doyle, the Girl Scouts’ senior vice president of program development. “There is consistency in our goals throughout our history, but we can maintain that while being fun, edgy and challenging for modern-day girls.”
I’m of two minds about the loss of badges as a core of the Girl Scout program. I learned so much about very diverse things in my pursuit of badges. I was an overacheiver and I wanted to earn as many badges as possible, including all the dabblers in various categories. That goal forced me to broaden my intellect, and I can’t imagine being who I am now without having picked up those little bits of information that broadened my horizons. On the other hand, I’d hate for girls to not join scouts just because of some of the negative stereotypes surrounding it, that it’s all badges and cookies. I hope this works out for them, but I also hope that they find ways to increase learning opportunities that loosing an emphasis on badges might otherwise be lessened.