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New badges get Girl Scouts prepared for 21st century

Tuesday, October 11, 2011   (2 Comments)
Posted by: Josie Duckett Boyd
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New badges get Girl Scouts prepared for 21st century

By Michelle Healy, USA TODAY

Girl Scouts will soon have new, up-to-date badges for their vests and sashes.

Along with popular, longtime activities including cooking, athletics and first aid, girls will earn insignia for immersing themselves in product design, digital filmmaking, "locavore" (local food) awareness and customer loyalty — which should be particularly useful given Girl Scouts' $700 million annual cookie business. The new badges come as the nearly 3.2- million-member organization gears up for next year's 100th anniversary.

MORE: Girl Scout cookies go high-tech: Smartphone sales
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"This is the first major update (of badges) at every level since 1987," says Alisha Niehaus of Girl Scouts of the USA. "We kept some favorites but added new ones that will help girls build the leadership skills they'll need for success in the 21st century."

Gone is 1987's Fashion, Fitness and Makeup badge; in its place, a Science of Style badge has girls explore use of nanotechnology in fabrics and the chemistry of sunscreens.

Other new badges are on financial literacy, public policy and website design. And to help girls master skills needed to tough it out in a sometimes crazy world, there's the Science of Happiness badge. Developed in conjunction with "positive psychology" researcher Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, it helps "teach girls how to find happiness in their own lives," Niehaus says.

 In addition to the 136 subject-specific badges, there are "Make Your Own" badges available at all six Girl Scout age levels to give girls the opportunity to explore any interest they choose.

Girl Scouts of the USA turned to business strategy consultant Jump Associates for help developing the new badges, Niehaus says. In focus groups, "girls asked for more challenge and more creativity. They asked for fun with purpose."

A study in February by sociology researcher Kathleen Denny in the journal Gender & Society found gender stereotypes in a Girl Scouts manual, suggesting the program was ready for an overhaul.

Niehaus says changes already had begun when the study was published. In addition to badges, Girl Scouts also recently introduced a program of "leadership journeys," activities grouped around themes such as the environment, advocacy and self-esteem through self-expression.








Tina Ninteman (Taggart) says...
Posted Friday, October 21, 2011
The thing I hear from my girls is that they don't want the badges to be like being in school. They spend enough time in school they don't want to do that at scout too. I say "Put the OUTING back into SCOUTING!" Get the girls doing thing that will help them survive the real world. They will figure out what they want to be by going through school.
Elma M. Kunz (MacMurray) says...
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Girl Scouting and its badges has always been on the cutting edge of the real world. My own 1931 edition of the Handbook, includes "Motorist " and Electrician" badges. But I question the need for a "Happiness" badge! Mastering skills creates self-esteem and happiness, The big problem will be convincing leaders to let girls do probram planning. I have been a voluteer trainer, and it was difficult to convince leaders that THEY should not present a program to the girls. I wish there were fewer "patches" that often replace earned badges.

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