New direction teaches Girl Scouts skills valuable in the 21st century

Scouts incorporate modern concepts

Emma Braun (left), 10, and Lizzie Smith, 9, work on crafts as they prepare for an upcoming play their Girl Scouts troop is organizing in Aiken. Girl Scouts USA recently introduced 136 badges, including Locavore, Marketing and Savvy Shopper.
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Girl Scouts might conjure up ideas of cookie sales and camping, but the new Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting has incorporated 21st-century skill sets to help girls stay relevant while keeping the tried-and-true Girl Scout principles.

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Deanna Davies, 10, wears her Girl Scouts vest with all of her badges. Girl Scout badges were last updated in 1987.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Deanna Davies, 10, wears her Girl Scouts vest with all of her badges. Girl Scout badges were last updated in 1987.

Girl Scouts USA recently unveiled 136 new badges, giving Scouts a new look – and new direction – in the year of its 100th anniversary. Designed to arm girls with modern-day skills, the insignias include Digital Photography, Science of Style and Social Innovator.

Katie Miller, a leader in the Aiken County Girl Scouts, said she’s had rave reviews from her girls about the new badges.

“They’re more fun, and more up to date for the girls,” she said. “They work hard and work through a lot of steps, so it helps when the subject matter is exciting and interesting to them.”

Miller has three daughters in Girl Scouts, and they already have a list of new badges they want to earn. Abby, 15, has already earned the Locavore badge by buying locally-grown food and preparing a potluck dinner with other Girl Scouts. Studying a more trendy topic such as locally-grown food is something Abby said she would have enjoyed doing on her own, without the extra incentive of a badge.

“These are things we’ll actually use later on in life,” she said. “They’re a lot more fun than the old ones.”

The “old ones” weren’t completely thrown out of the new material but are preserved as Legacy badges to honor skills and principles the Girl Scouts have been studying since 1912: First Aid, Naturalist, Cook, and others.

“We build leaders,” said Mary Hurst, membership services officer with Girl Scouts of Historic Augusta. “It’s been a long time since the handbooks have been updated, and we want to challenge our girls to learn new things.”

Hurst said the Girl Scouts shop in Augusta has been selling a lot of the guidebooks since their release in October.

“We could tell just by the sales of the guides how well they were received,” she said. “We couldn’t keep them stocked.”

Beth Messer, the director of Girl Leadership Experience with the Atlanta region, said the new badges are designed to reflect girls’ evolving interests and the importance of technology and finance in today’s culture. A major update was also long overdue, she said. The last time the badges were overhauled was 1987.

A business strategy consultant and focus groups helped develop the badges. In focus groups, girls asked for more challenge, creativity, technology and “fun with purpose,” according to Michelle Tompkins, a spokeswoman with Girl Scouts USA.

Financial literacy is a major theme. Brownies can earn Money Manager badges; Junior Girl Scouts can obtain Savvy Shopper badges; and middle school Cadettes can try for Budgeting and Marketing badges.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this story.

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dingomom 01/21/12 - 03:40 pm
I think girlscouts is great,

I think girlscouts is great, but I think the council in Augusta could use some work. I have tried calling and calling to find my daughter a troop to join, but keep getting told there isn't a troop servicing the Blythe school district. I don't mind driving her to meeting, she just wants to be in girlscouts.

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