Emma from Troop 7286. (Photos courtesy of Girl Scouts – Arizona Cactus Pine Council)

December 26, 2020

Autumn Jarrett

Girl Scouts pivot to offer virtual programming to build leaders of future

Steady leadership is essential during a crisis such as COVID-19, from fostering trust and showing compassion, to managing challenges with agility, to evaluating outcomes of decisions. The Girl Scout program is proven to develop strong and effective leaders—among many positive outcomes, Girl Scouts are much likelier than non-Girl Scouts to take an active role in decision making (80% vs. 51%), which is a critical aspect of leadership.

With the introduction of 24 new badges designed to help girls practice ambitious leadership in the crucial areas of automotive engineering, STEM career exploration, entrepreneurship, and civics, many of which remain male-dominated – there’s never been a better time to join Girl Scouts. In a year of unprecedented global change, our country’s need for strong, broad-minded, and decisive leadership has never been greater. Through new and existing programming, Girl Scouts equips the next generation of female change-makers with the breadth of knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to take charge and do good for the world, both now and in the future. The new Girl Scout badges include:

Entrepreneurship (grades K–12). Girls develop an entrepreneurial mindset as they engage in age-appropriate exercises that help them create and pitch a product or service that solves a problem. They build their own business plan and think about topics like production, cost, profit, marketing, and competition. Three in four of today’s girls are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, but more than half also say they need more support in this area; these badges are designed to fill the gap. Funded by Susan Bulkeley Butler and designed in collaboration with VentureLab.

STEM Career Exploration (grades 2–8). Girls explore their career interests and connect them to STEM fields—particularly computer science, nature/environmental science, engineering, design, health, and agriculture—that can help them address the pressing issues of our time and change the world. The IF/THEN® Collection, a free, downloadable digital asset library of real-life women in STEM, is an integral component of the badges. The dearth of women in STEM fields is well documented, but data shows that girls are more interested in a STEM career when they learn how they can use it to help people, demonstrating the value of Girl Scouts’ unique approach. Funded by IF/THEN, an initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies.

Automotive Engineering (grades K–5). Girls learn about designing, engineering, and manufacturing vehicles, as well as the future of mobility. They design their own vehicles, test prototypes, learn about design thinking, create their own assembly line manufacturing process, and more. Only 13% of engineers are women, underscoring the need for these badges which will introduce more girls to the field. Funded by General Motors.

Civics (grades K–12). Girls gain an in-depth understanding of how local, state, and federal government works, preparing them to be voters, activists, and even political leaders. They research laws and how they’re created, voting, and the electoral college, the representation of women in government, and more. They also research their own government officials and are encouraged to meet them. Just 24% of eighth-graders are proficient in civics, and only two in five American adults can name the three branches of U.S. government, highlighting the need for these badges. Funded by the Citi Foundation.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical that we have strong leaders who can make informed decisions,” said GSACPC CEO Tamara Woodbury. “During our current health crisis, the world leaders who have been among the most decisive and effective in addressing the pandemic have been women. With these new badge experiences in STEM, entrepreneurship, and the critically important subject of civics, Girl Scouts is continuing to build the transformational female leaders of today and the future and showing girls the power they have to truly change the world.”

These are certainly trying times, but that’s also why they’re the perfect time for Girl Scouts to shine. Girl Scouts have always been known for their willingness to try and for facing new, and sometimes even overwhelming, challenges with optimism and creativity. Girls need activities to keep them engaged and connected now more than ever. That’s why Girl Scouts are proud to offer a new way for families to embrace the experiences, learning, and joy of Girl Scouts wherever they may be through Girl Scouts at Home.  

Through Girl Scouts at Home, Girl Scouts is proud to offer all girls—whether they are registered Girl Scouts or not—access to Girl Scout activities. For each age group, ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade, you’ll find a wide variety of enriching activities plus two full badge activity guides that allow girls to earn official Girl Scout Badges. Additionally, we’ve partnered with our Girl Scout community far and wide to offer you special videos leading girls through this new Girl Scout experience.   

These virtual Girl Scouting programs, events and activities also support parents as they continue to juggle new challenges during this current time. Girl Scouts at Home programs and guides are easy for parents, caregivers, and troop leaders to lead at home, or for a girl to lead through her own activities.

“Whether they are fighting cybercrime, exploring how engineers solve problems, or advocating for issues affecting their community, Girl Scouts are learning how to proactively address some of the foremost challenges of today while also building skills that will set them up for a lifetime of leadership,” said GSACPC CEO Tamara Woodbury. “I am so proud that our new programming continues to push girls to be forward-thinking and equips them with the skills they need to make today’s world a better place. We believe in the power of all girls, and we invite them to strengthen their unique abilities by joining Girl Scouts.”

Girls Scouts at Home is just a small window into the world of things girls can do as a Girl Scout, to learn more about becoming a member go to girlscoutsaz.org/join.