Since 1912, when we were founded by trailblazer Juliette Gordon Low, Girl Scouts has given youth the tools to lead, break barriers, and create positive change. We are the largest girl-led and one of the largest youth-led leadership development organizations for girls and nonbinary youth in the world and a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, a community of nearly 10 million members in 150 countries. With programs from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers the chance to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success.
Girl Scouts is about sharing the fun, friendship, and the inherent power of girls, women, and nonbinary folks in an inclusive, supportive, youth-led environment!
Girl Scout volunteers are a dynamic and diverse group, and there’s no one “type” of volunteer. Whether you’re a recent college grad, a parent, a retiree, or really, anyone with a sense of curiosity and adventure (who has passed the necessary screening process), your unique skills and experiences help make Girl Scouting a powerful leadership experience.
All members share the values of the Girl Scout Promise and Law, as well as extraordinary strengths as go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders. Each member also agrees to follow safety guidelines and pay annual membership dues of $25. Adults have the option to purchase a lifetime membership for $400.
|Daisy (grades K-1)||Cadette (grades 6-8)|
|Brownie (grades 2-3)||Senior (grades 9-10)|
|Junior (grades 4-5)||Ambassador (grades 11-12)|
At Girl Scouts, everything centers around our youth members. Activities are youth-led, which creates the opportunity to take on leadership roles and learn by doing in a cooperative learning environment. It’s what makes Girl Scouts truly unique—our program is designed by, with, and for youth.
Although many people start building their leadership skills in school and on sports teams, research shows that the courage, confidence, and character they develop as Girl Scouts stay with them throughout their lives.
All Girl Scouting activities fit within three keys: discover, connect, and take action.
As for how they do it? The Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) draws on three unique processes that help Girl Scouts unlock the leader within.
As a volunteer, you’ll draw on these processes as you lead Girl Scouts of any age. Girl Scout-led at the Daisy level will look very different from the Ambassador level, of course. What’s most important is that Girl Scouts make decisions about the activities to do together and that they also make choices within that activity. As they learn from their successes and failures—and gain a major confidence boost in the process—their Girl Scout-led process will give them the opportunity to lead within their peer group. By the time Girl Scouts are Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors, they’ll be using the leadership skills they’ve developed in order to mentor younger members.
One last tip about using the processes: Girl Scouting isn’t a to-do list, so please don’t ever feel that checking activities off a list is more important than tuning in to what interests members and sparks their imaginations. Projects don’t have to come out perfectly—in fact, it’s a valuable learning experience when they don’t—and Girl Scouts don’t have to fill their vests and sashes with badges. Because what matters most is the fun and learning that happens as Girl Scouts make experiences their own; don’t be afraid to step back and let them take the lead.
Was a badge-earning activity a resounding success? Or was it derailed by something the Girl Scouts hadn’t factored in? No matter an activity’s outcome, you can amplify its impact by encouraging your Girl Scouts to reflect on their latest endeavor.
Reflection is the necessary debrief that reinforces what Girl Scouts learn. As they explore the “whats” and “whys,” Girl Scouts make meaningful connections between the activity at hand and future challenges that come their way. In other words, reflection gives Girl Scouts the confidence boost they need to pick themselves up, try again, and succeed.
Reflection doesn’t need to be a formal process, but you can kick-start the conversation with three simple questions: "What?", "So what?", and "Now what?"
"What?", "So what?", and "Now what?"—or whatever style of reflection you choose to use—are powerful elements of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, and they’ll carry these lessons with them for the rest of their lives.
Although program elements—like outdoor expeditions or entrepreneurial ventures—align across all grade levels, Girl Scout Brownies and Juniors won’t be doing the same activities as seasoned Seniors and Ambassadors. But with your support, they will get there!
Girl Scout programming is designed to be progressive, and it’s what makes Girl Scouting fun and effective! By building on the knowledge and skills they gain year after year, your Girl Scouts’ confidence will grow exponentially, and they’ll be eager to take the next steps. As a volunteer, you will cultivate a supportive, nonjudgmental space where Girl Scouts can test their skills and be unafraid to fail.
Keep in mind that good progression drives success. We’ve outlined some suggestions that will help you determine when your Girl Scouts are ready for their next outdoor challenge, troop trip, or entrepreneurial venture.
Girl Scouts has a strong commitment to inclusion and diversity. We welcome all members, regardless of race, ethnicity, background, cognitive or physical abilities, family structure, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity (except cis-gender boys), and socioeconomic status.
Inclusion is at the core of who we are; it’s about being a sibling to every Girl Scout and celebrating our unique strengths. Part of the important work you do includes modeling friendship and kindness for your Girl Scouts and showing them what it means to practice empathy.
When scheduling, planning, and carrying out activities, carefully consider the needs of all members involved, including school schedules, family needs, financial constraints, religious holidays, and the accessibility of appropriate transportation and meeting places.
Girl Scouts lead their own adventures and team up to choose the exciting, hands-on activities that interest them most. Girl Scouting focuses on four areas (pillars) that form the foundation of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience:
Outdoors: When Girl Scouts embark on outdoor adventures, they learn to confidently meet challenges while developing a lifelong appreciation of nature.
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM): Whether they’re building a robot, developing a video game, or studying the stars, Girl Scouts become better problem-solvers and critical thinkers through STEM activities and learn how they can use STEM to help others.
Life skills: Girl Scouts discover they have what it takes to become outspoken community advocates, make smart decisions about their finances, and form strong, healthy relationships—skills that inspire them to accept challenges and overcome obstacles, now and always.
Entrepreneurship: By participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program, fall product program, or by earning an entrepreneurship badge, Girl Scouts spark their curiosity, confidence, and innovation as they learn the essentials of running their own business and how to think like entrepreneurs.
The Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) can provide inspiring ideas for engaging your troop in an exciting mix of activities all year long. For example, if you want to take your Girl Scouts outside when doing a badge activity, look for the evergreen icon, which tells you that activity can be taken outdoors, or the globe icon, which lets you know you can bring a global perspective to the activity.
Journeys and badges are designed to give Girl Scouts different leadership-building experiences, all while having fun!
Journeys are multi-session leadership experiences for girls to explore topics such as bullying, media literacy, design thinking, or environmental stewardship. Girl Scouts do hands-on activities, connect with experts, and take the reins on age-appropriate Take Action projects. Because of their leadership focus, Journeys are also a prerequisite for the highly regarded Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.
Badges are all about skill building. When a Girl Scout earns a badge, it shows that they’ve learned a new skill, such as how to make a healthy snack, build and test a toy race car, or take great digital photos. It may even spark an interest at school or plant the seed for a future career. And remember: you’ll have fun and learn by doing right alongside your Girl Scouts!
If they choose, Girl Scouts can pursue badges and Journey awards in the same year; encourage them to find the connections between the two to magnify their Girl Scout experience! While you’re having fun, keep in mind that the quality of a Girl Scout’s experience and the skills and pride they gain from earning Journey awards and skill-building badges far outweigh the quantity of badges they earn.
As a volunteer, you don’t have to be the expert in any badge or Journey work. In fact, when you show that you’re not afraid to fail and you’re willing to try something new, you’re modeling what is it is to be a Girl Scout. Our badge and Journey requirements are structured so your Girl Scouts can learn new skills without your having to be an expert in all the topics, including STEM.
As your Girl Scouts look for meaningful ways to give back to their community, you can help sharpen their problem-solving skills and expand their definition of doing good by discussing community service and Take Action projects. Both projects serve important needs, but at different levels.
If your troop members want to pursue their Bronze, Silver, or Gold Awards, they’ll develop a Take Action project on an issue that’s close to their hearts. To make Take Action projects even more impactful for your Girl Scouts, give time for them to reflect on their projects. When girls make time to internalize the lessons they’ve learned, they’re more likely to find success in their future projects—or anything else they put their minds to.
Time-honored traditions and ceremonies unite Girl Scout siblings—and the millions of Girl Scout alums who came before them—around the country and around the globe and, reminding them how far they’ve come and just how far they’ll go.
A few of those extra-special days, when you’ll want to crank up the celebrations, include:
Whether they’re making cool SWAPS to share with new friends or closing meetings with a friendship circle, your troop won’t want to miss out on these traditions, ceremonies, and special Girl Scout days.
As your Girl Scouts discover their passions and the power of their voices, they’ll want to take on an issue that’s captured their interest and is meaningful to them. Encourage them to turn their vision into reality by taking on the ultimate Take Action projects in order to earn Girl Scouts’ highest awards.
The Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards honor members who become forces for good and create a lasting impact on their communities, nationally and around the world.
The Girl Scout Bronze Award can be earned by Juniors; the prerequisite is one Junior Journey and its associated Take Action project. The Bronze Award is earned by the group.
The Girl Scout Silver Award can be earned by Cadettes; the prerequisite is one Cadette Journey and its associated Take Action project. The Silver Award can be earned by an individual Girl Scout or by a small group.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the standout achievement of Girl Scouts who develop meaningful, sustainable solutions to challenges in their communities and the world. Seniors and Ambassadors who have completed either two Girl Scout Senior/Ambassador level Journeys or earned the Silver Award and completed one Senior/Ambassador level Journey can pursue their Gold Award.
Did you know that a Girl Scout who has earned their Gold Award immediately advances one rank in all four branches of the U.S. military? A number of college scholarship opportunities also await Gold Award Girl Scouts. A Girl Scout does not, however, have to earn a Bronze or Silver Award before earning the Girl Scout Gold Award. They are eligible to earn any recognition at the grade level in which they are registered.
Ask your council about the Gold Award Girl Scouts in your community and how they’re doing their part to make the world a better place. For some serious inspiration, consider inviting a local Gold Award Girl Scout to speak to your troop about how they took the lead and made a difference. You’ll be inspired when you see and hear what Girl Scouts can accomplish as leaders—and by the confidence, values, and team-building expertise they gain along the way!
Discover that Girl Scouts is the best way to travel. Girl Scouts will challenge themselves in a safe environment that sparks their curiosity, and they’ll create lifelong memories with their Girl Scout siblings. And the Girl Scout Cookie Program can help to make travel dreams a reality as Girl Scouts use their cookie earnings every year to power amazing adventures for themselves and their troop.
Traveling with Girl Scouts is very different from traveling with family, school, or other groups because Girl Scout youth members take the lead. As they make the decisions about where to go and what to do and take increasing responsibility for the planning and management of their trips, Girl Scouts build important organizational and management skills that will benefit them in college and beyond.
Girl Scout travel is built on a progression of activities, so members are set up for success. Daisies and Brownies start with field trips and progress to day trips, overnights, and weekend trips. Juniors can take adventures farther with a longer regional trip. And Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors can travel the United States and then the world. There are even opportunities for older Girl Scouts to travel independently by joining trips their councils organize or participating in Destinations.
Planning Ahead for Adventure
Get in touch with Girl Scouts of Western Washington as you start thinking about planning a trip. We have training programs that will raise your confidence as a chaperone as well as an approval process for overnight and extended travel.
Girl Scouts of Western Washington offers virtual and in-person workshops that cover the different types of trips your troop could take. For more information on our online learning platform gsLearn and workshop descriptions, please visit our Volunteer Learning page.
For more information on Girl Scouts of Western Washington travel opportunities and policies, please visit our Travel page.
Not sure where to begin? Check out the Girl Scout Guide to U.S. Travel. This resource is designed for Juniors and older Girl Scouts who want to take extended trips—that is, longer than a weekend—but also features tips and tools for budding explorers who are just getting started with field trips and overnights.
Once your Girl Scouts have mastered planning trips in the United States, they might be ready for a global travel adventure! Global trips usually take a few years to plan, and the Girl Scout Global Travel Toolkit can walk you through the entire process.
If you’re planning any kind of trip—from a short field trip to an overseas expedition—the “Trips and Travel” section of Safety Activity Checkpoints is your go-to resource for safety. Be sure to follow all the basic safety guidelines, like the buddy system and first-aid requirements, in addition to the specific guidelines for travel.
Note that extended travel (more than two nights) is not covered under the basic Girl Scout insurance plan and will require additional coverage. (*On Federal holiday weekends only (e.g. Labor, Memorial Day) basic insurance is extended to three nights. All other trips three nights or more require additional coverage).
Girl Scout Connections
It’s easy to tie eye-opening travel opportunities into leadership training and skill building! Your Girl Scouts can use their creativity to connect any leadership Journey theme into an idea for travel, like a Sow What? trip focusing on sustainable agriculture and, naturally, sampling tasty food!
There are abundant opportunities to build real skills through earning badges too. The most obvious example is the Senior Traveler badge, but there are plenty more, such as Eco Camper, New Cuisines, Photography, and, of course, all the financial badges that help Girl Scouts budget and earn money for their trips.
Looking to incorporate Girl Scout traditions into your trip? Look no farther than the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace in Savannah, Georgia! You can also deepen connections to Girl Scouts around the world by visiting one of the WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) World Centers, which offer low-cost accommodations and special programs in five locations around the world.
And if your Girl Scouts are looking to stay closer to home this year? Consider visiting one of Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s camp properties.
As your Girl Scouts excitedly plan their next trip, remember limit your role to facilitating brainstorming and planning, never doing the work for them. Share your ideas and insight, ask tough questions when you have to, and support all their decisions with enthusiasm and encouragement!