Girl Scouts' mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. It's a tall order, but Girl Scouts has developed a framework to deliver a high-quality and effective leadership development program to girls from Kindergarten all the way through high school.
This framework is called the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. The process starts early and becomes more complex as girls develop and grow, while at the same time delivering a fun and rewarding leadership experience for girls.
The Girl Scout processes describe how to design and implement a program of activities and experiences for girls that will result in the outcomes listed above.
||What it means
||Why it works
||What it looks like |
||Girls make decisions and choices about what they do and how they do it.
||Girls feel they “own” their group and experiences. They’ll also have more fun.
||Girls plan, organize, and implement their Girl Scout activities with as little supervision as possible.|
|Learning by Doing
||Girls have opportunities for hands-on activities followed by reflection and discussion time.
||Girls strengthen their critical thinking skills and are more likely to apply what they learn to their lives.
||Girls reflect on what they’re experiencing by journaling and being part of group discussions.|
||Girls share work towards a common goal as well as knowledge and skills in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation.
||Girls build healthy relationships and communicate effectively. This will help experiences and in other areas of their lives. Plus, cooperative learning is fun!
||Girls create a team agreement, reflect, and speak openly and often about how they are functioning as a team. Girls do activities in pairs or small groups. Girls set group goals that can only be achieved through interdependent efforts (e.g., sharing resources, helping).|
Before you start, ask yourself...
Is this a topic or activity that the girls are interested in? How do you know? Why are they interested? What could draw them in further? Include the girls in brainstorming and choosing what they will do with Girl Scouts.
Design engaging, hands-on activities
What can you do to engage the girls in the activity? Can you design a game related to the topic? Tell a story that will pique their interest? Relate the activity to something they have done before or expressed an interest in? Plan a craft or other project that manifests the goal or concept of the activity?
Involve all the girls
Every group has some girls who are eager to talk and some who stand back and watch. When you split girls into small groups, it’s harder for a hesitant girl to disengage from the activity. Small groups also encourage input from every participant.
When asking for idea or feedback, allow some time for writing responses, or quiet reflection, so that all the girls can think up answers, rather than relying on the more outgoing girls to take charge.
Asking girls to discuss a question in small groups, or with a partner, also allows more voices to be heard.
Make time to process the activity
Processing is how we come to understand an activity and learn from it. Often we forget to debrief the activities with girls. We run out of time, we’re afraid of losing their attention, or that dead silence when we ask “How was that?” scares us. But debriefing is an important part of leadership development.
Through open-ended questions, an adult guide can help girls process their own conclusions and determine their own future course of action.
- Before the activity
Lay the groundwork. Why are we doing this? Is there something the girls should know before they start that will make the activity more relevant and meaningful? Directions to ease the way? Are there things you should avoid saying or doing so that the girls can make their own discoveries? Have the girls make predictions about what might happen or set a goal for themselves related to the activity?
- During the activity
Give the girls space to do problem-solving on their own or as a team. Girls can learn by addressing and overcoming a challenge, and by helping each other figure out solutions. When an adult jumps in with corrections, girls may feel that they are doing it "wrong" or may become resentful.
- After the activity
Ask open-ended questions. How did you work together as a team? What was the most fun part? Was this a success? Would you like to do this again? What would you do differently next time? Where could you go with this next? You can make an observation about something you noticed and ask the girls for their reaction. "I saw that you had trouble carrying all the eggs at once. What could you do about that?"
Remember that what the girls learn from the activity is more important than the finished product. The goal isn’t to move balloons from one end of the gym to the other without using your hands, but for the girls to figure out how to work together as a team to accomplish the task.