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Chapter 1: All About Girl Scouts

On March 12, 1912, founder Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low brought together 18 young women for the first Girl Scout meeting. Her vision was to bring girls out in the open air and in to community service. Those first Girl Scouts hiked, camped, had fun, and learned skills. And they grew into leaders by discovering the world around them and taking action in their community. Today, Girl Scouts is the world’s largest leadership development organization for girls.

  • 1.8 million girl members
  • 14,400 Girl Scouts overseas
  •  800,000 adult volunteers
  • More than 50 million alumnae
  • 112 councils throughout the United States

Welcome to Girl Scouts:

The Girl Scout Mission and Vision

Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. We strive to be the premier leadership organization for girls and experts on their growth and development.

How We are Organized
HowWeAreOrganized

Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) is our national organization, with an office located in New York. GSUSA provides support and resources like books, guides, and digital meeting plans to ensure that the Girl Scout experience is consistent from state to state. 

Girl Scouts San Diego is your local council. We help girls in San Diego and Imperial County find troops. We run programs, like camps, so that girls can learn by doing. We support our volunteers by offering training, answering questions, and providing guidance. We raise funds so that all girls can be Girl Scouts. We uphold safety guidelines to ensure that girls and volunteers are safe. 

Your service unit team is a community of volunteers and girls. They’re organized around school clusters. Service units are an essential support system! Attend monthly service unit meetings to hear about events and activities your girls can join, share ideas and ask questions, take mini training sessions, and learn the nuts and bolts of Girl Scouting by connecting with your Girl Scout community. Check out the Service Unit Fact Sheet to learn more.

How to Join

Girls and adults can join by registering online. The annual membership fee is $25. The membership fee covers costs of accident insurance for members participating in approved Girl Scout activities. It also helps provide resources that support the Girl Scout mission and improve the Girl Scout experience for girls, volunteers, and troop parents.

Financial assistance for girls is available. Need help? Contact customercare@sdgirlscouts.org.

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is what girls do and how they do it. Girl Scouts gives girls opportunities to discover, connect, and take action. When girls participate in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, activities are also girl-led. Girls learn in a cooperative learning style. And, they learn by doing. The Girl Scout Leadership experience results in measurable outcomes that fuel girls’ future success. Research shows that the courage, confidence, and character girls develop as Girl Scouts stay with them throughout their lives.

Video: How to Give Girls the Girl Scout Leadership Experience

Keep activities girl-led. Allow girls to take an active role in making decisions and choosing activities to help them become engaged, active learners. Plan to provide a level of guidance that is appropriate for your Girl Scout troop’s program level.

Encourage cooperative learning. Foster teamwork by encouraging girls to share knowledge and work together for a common goal. Emphasize respect and cooperation. 

Let girls learn by doing. Give girl opportunities for hands-on learning. Girls acquire a deeper understanding when they learn by doing. After completing an activity, encourage reflection. Ask what they liked, what surprised them, what they learned, what they might do differently. Reflection makes activities more meaningful.

How Girl Scouts Benefits Girls

When you spend time with your Girl Scout troop exploring issues, learning skills, journeying outdoors, and having fun, you make a lifelong difference for girls. We are incredibly grateful to the hundreds of thousands of generous Girl Scout volunteers who invest in girls around the globe. Here’s how your time and the Girl Scout Leadership Experience have a positive impact on girls:

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The Girl Scout Promise and Law

Girls and adult volunteers learn the Girl Scout Promise and law to feel the ties to Girl Scout sisterhood and tradition. The Promise and Law also set expectations for troop behavior. Refer to the Promise and Law to guide the actions of girls and volunteers in your troop.

Girl Scout Promise

On my honor, I will try:
To serve God* and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

* The word "God" can be interpreted in a number of ways, depending on your spiritual beliefs. When reciting the Girl Scout Promise, it is OK to replace the word "God" with whatever word your spiritual beliefs dictate.

Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
make the world a better place,and be a sister to every Girl Scout.
The Girl Scout Sign and Handshake
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The Girl Scout Sign

The idea of the sign came from the days of chivalry, when armed knights greeted friendly knights by raising the right hand as a sign of friendship. The three extended fingers represent the three parts of the Girl Scout Promise.

How to do it: Raise the three middle fingers of the right hand, palm forward and shoulder high. 

Girls give the sign when they:

  • Say the Girl Scout Promise or Law.
  • Are welcomed into Girl Scouts at an investiture ceremony.
  • Receive an award, patch, pin, or other recognition.
  • Greet other Girl Scouts and Girl Guides.

Watch a video.

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Girl Scout Handshake

How to do it: Shake left hands and give the Girl Scout Sign with your right hand. Girls use this handshake when they:

  • Want to greet other Girl Scouts in a formal way.
  • Receive an award.
The Girl Scout Slogan and Motto

Slogan: Do a good turn daily. The slogan is a reminder of the many ways girls can contribute positively to the lives of others.

Motto: Be prepared. In the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook, the motto was explained this way: "A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency." The same holds true today.

Girl Scout Grade Levels

Any girl in grades K–12 can join the fun at Girl Scouts. Learn more about:

Uniforms

Wearing the Girl Scout uniform is a treasured tradition. Today, girls wear a Girl Scout tunic, vest, or sash to display insignia (badges, patches, and emblems). Volunteers wear their membership pin with a navy polo or Girl Scout t-shirt and their Trained to Lead charms. A navy top with a kakhi bottom is the adult dress uniform.

What’s the different between badges, patches, and emblems?

Girls earn badges when they learn new skills and wear then proudly on the front of their tunic, vest, or sash. Find age-appropriate badge activities in the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting or the Award and Badge Explorer. With hundreds of badges, there’s something for everyone. Keep in mind, though, that the quality of the experience matters, not the number of badges. If your girls are learning and feeling proud of what they do, you’ve got it right!

Patches are a reminder of a fun activity that a girl has tried, like celebrating a Girl Scout holiday. They’re placed on the back of a girl’s tunic, vest, or sash.

Emblems show membership in Girl Scouts. Council patches or troop numbers are examples. Emblems are worn on the front of the tunic, vest or sash.

See where to place insignia: Daisies | Brownies | Juniors | Cadettes | Seniors | Ambassadors

Special Girl Scout Days

Girls become a part of Girl Scout history when they honor Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low and celebrate special days, like the Girl Scout birthday. You can keep the flame of tradition burning by celebrating Girl Scout holidays with your troop.

Oct. 31: Founder’s Day. Celebrates Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday.

Feb. 22: World Thinking Day. A ceremony and/or celebration held each year where new members can receive the World Trefoil Pin and all Girl Scouts observe the international aspects of Girl Scouts.

Plan ahead and Go Global or earn the Juliet Gordon Low World Friendship patch!

March 12: Girl Scouts’ Birthday. Commemorates the day in 1912 when Juliette Gordon Low officially registered the organization's first 18 girl members in Savannah, Georgia.

April 22: Girl Scout Leader’s Day. Honors all Girl Scout volunteers who work as leaders and mentors.

Ceremonies

Ceremonies are a great way to keep Girl Scout traditions alive, celebrate girl achievement, and provide opportunities for girls to plan and lead. Include ceremonies like these in your annual meeting plans and let the girls pitch in to make their ceremonies special.

Bridging:  Plan this ceremony when your Girl Scout troop moves from one level of Girl Scouting to another—like from Daisies to Brownies. Bridging ceremonies celebrate achievements and signal new adventures and responsibilities on the horizon. They usually take place at the beginning or end of a Girl Scout year.

Court of Awards: Plan this special ceremony to recognize accomplishments. Girls are presented with their badges, year pins, and other recognitions earned during the year. Volunteers may also be recognized during the ceremony. The Court of Awards can be held anytime during the year, at any location, and as often as the Girl Scout troop wants.

Flag: A ceremony to recognize the allegiance to our nation or retire a worn flag. A flag ceremony can be held as part of a celebration. It can also be used to open a Girl Scout troop meeting or other occasion.

Fly-Up: A ceremony for Brownie Girl Scouts bridging into Junior Girl Scouts. It is at this time the girls receive their Brownie Girl Scout wings.

Girl Scout Sunday/Sabbath: A ceremony held each year during Girl Scout Week. It is a time for Girl Scouts to reflect upon the importance of the words, “to serve God,” in the Girl Scout Promise. Some religions observe Girl Scout Sunday on the Sabbath on the Saturday ending Girl Scout week. People of the Jewish faith also call it Shabbat. Celebrated the week of March 12.

Girl Scout Troop Birthday Party: A ceremony and/or celebration recognizing the anniversary date of the beginning of the troop.

Girl Scouts’ Own: Girl Scout’s Own isn’t a ceremony in the strict sense of the word. But is a time for Girl Scouts to reflect on their feelings about Girl Scouting and the world around them. It is a solemn time given over to the girls themselves to create a moment of their very own. A Girl Scouts’ Own can take place at a Girl Scout troop meeting, an inter-troop gathering, or at camp.

Investiture: Plan this ceremony to welcome new girls and volunteers to Girl Scouting. Girls receive their Girl Scout membership pin at this time. Pins are placed upside down and then turned right side up when the girl does a good deed. Volunteers can receive their pins at this ceremony too.

Opening:  A ceremony to begin a meeting or an event.

Rededication: A ceremony for girls and adults who have already been invested at some time in their life. It is a time for them to reaffirm their belief in the Promise and Law and to reflect upon the meaning of Girl Scouting in their lives. Notes: If a person rejoins Girl Scouts after a period of absence, they are welcomed back at a rededication ceremony.

World Thinking Day: A ceremony and/or celebration held each year where new members can receive the World Trefoil Pin and all Girl Scouts observe the international aspects of Girl Scouts.

Global Action Days: Celebrate nine special Global Action Days each year with your Girl Scouts. This is a great opportunity to help girls connect with the global Girl Scout sisterhood, discover issues that affect girls around the world, and take action. Learn more at girlscouts.org/travel.

 

Volunteering for Girl Scouts:

Volunteer Benefits

It’s true, girls are at the heart of Girl Scouts. But Girl Scouts just wouldn’t be Girl Scouts without our volunteers. And volunteers tell us that they benefit as members too. They watch girls grow, see confidence and leadership bloom, and enjoy the satisfaction of bringing girls together who form lifelong friendships.

Leaders feel the appreciation of parents who are grateful for their daughters’ Girl Scout experiences. Leading by example, troop leaders teach their own daughters and families the positive impact of giving time to others as well. And there’s more:

  • 94% of Girl Scout volunteers say they've made new friends while volunteering with us.

  • 88% of Girl Scout volunteers say volunteering with us helps them stay active.

  • 92% of Girl Scout volunteers say Girl Scouts helps them learn new skills and share them with others.

  • 65% of volunteers say being a part of Girl Scouts has helped them professionally.

Ways to Volunteer

Whether you have a few hours, a few weeks, or a few months to give, volunteering with Girl Scouts is flexible, fun, and meaningful! Be the troop leader that supports her every week, an advocate for girls in your community, a mentor in your area of expertise, or provide behind-the-scenes support that makes Girl Scouting possible.

Learn more about ways to volunteer or join.

Your Responsibilities as a Troop Volunteer

In Girl Scouts, volunteers share their passions and experiences and girls explore their varied interests. That’s what makes each Girl Scout troop unique. There’s room for creativity and lots of choice when deciding what to do as a troop and how to do it. But we do ask that volunteers know their responsibilities and follow them.

Ensure proper adult supervision for the troop. At least two unrelated adult volunteers must be present at all times.

Create a safe, supportive environment where girls engage in age-appropriate troop meetings, activities, and events.

Be a positive role model whose actions are guided by the Girl Scout Promise and Law.

Be trained by completing required training.

Guide the troop while allowing girls to lead in an age-appropriate way.

Communicate clearly and often with all troop families about outings, events, and troop finances.

Maintain troop records. Collect and keep a Girl Health History and Annual Permission Form and Parent Information Sheet each year. Get additional permission from parents, when required.

Welcome and ask for help from troop families—many hands make light work!

Arrange safe travel for troop outings by ensuring that drivers are registered Girl Scout members who have a background check, current license, registration, and auto insurance.

Be prepared for emergencies by having a first-aid-trained adult and first-aid kit on hand at all times.

Understand and follow safety guidelines found in this reference booklet.

Connect with their service unit to learn about opportunities for the troop.

Have fun. Do what makes girls smile and smile too.

Membership and Renewal

All girls and adult volunteers in a Girl Scout troop register as Girl Scout members each year at sdgirlscouts.org/renew. The annual membership fee is $25. Once registered, troop members will appear in the troop leader’s online roster.

The membership fee covers costs of accident insurance for members participating in approved Girl Scout activities. It also helps provide resources that support the Girl Scout mission and improve the Girl Scout experience for girls, volunteers, and troop parents.

Troop minimums: Daisy through Junior troops must have a minimum of 5 girls and Cadette through Ambassador troops must have a minimum of 3 girls to remain active. If your troop falls below this number, contact your troop support specialist who will help you open your troop and explore other ways to keep your troop in compliance.

Did you know? You can use troop funds to renew membership for girls and troop volunteers. When you do, you guarantee each girl another year of Girl Scout fun and help out troop families too. 

Representing Girl Scouts

As a Girl Scout volunteer, you represent the premier leadership development organization for girls. We’re proud to have you as a part of the Girl Scout community and want you to feel proud too. Please always wear a Girl Scout uniform or Girl Scout-branded clothing to meetings, outings, and community functions (e.g., parades, flag ceremonies, and recruitment events).  Use consistent Girl Scout branded messaging. If representing Girl Scouts at a civic event, ask community representatives speaking about Girl Scouts to use this language too. Learn more about branding.

CORRECT BRANDING INCORRECT BRANDING
Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) Girl Scouts of America (GSA)
Girl Scout/Girl Scouts/Girl Scouting Scout/Scouts/Scouting
Girl Scouts The Girl Scouts
Girl Scouts San Diego Girl Scouts of San Diego
Girl Scouts of Coronado
Imperial Valley
Girl Scouts
Girl Scout Troop 1234 Troop 1234
Girl Scouts San Diego Blue Sky Service Unit Blue Sky Girl Scouts
Girl Scout Cookie Program
fall product program
Cookie sale, Fall Nut Sale
Earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, Girl Scout Silver Award, Girl Scout Bronze Award Win the Gold Award
Gold Award Girl Scout, Silver Award Girl Scout, Bronze Award Girl Scout Gold/Silver/Bronze Award winner, awardee, recipient
About Training

We know your time is important. When we ask you to take training, we understand that. Training is the most efficient way we know to connect you with the info you need to get your Girl Scout troop up and running. Much of what you’ll learn at the start is about safety. Girl safety as well as your own deserves attention. You’ll also learn essentials like how to hold meetings, team up with parents, and venture outdoors—all good things that will help you feel comfortable and confident as a leader. That’s our goal!

Learn about required training for leaders and training that’s just for fun at sdgirlscouts.org/training.

Need more support?  If you’ve taken required training and still have questions or need support, connect with your troop support specialist, or submit a help request. A staff member will contact and provide guidance in the area(s) you have indicated.

Girl Scout Participation with Other Organizations

The decision by Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to open the Boy Scout program to girls has fundamentally altered the nature of the relationship between BSA and Girl Scouts nationally and locally. Local relationships between BSA and Girl Scout councils that have led to partnerships and joint activities in the past may now expose our membership enrollment and brand to risks. This may mean that the relationship between a council and its BSA counterpart should fundamentally change.

Marketplace Confusion. To protect the integrity of the Girl Scout brand and reinforce our programming as unique, girl-only, and best in class, we must ensure that we take care that the activities in which girls participate are exclusive to the Girl Scout program, are safe and girl led, and are conducted under the appropriate supervision of Girl Scouts. Participation of Girl Scouts in activities with other organizations, such as Boy Scouts, may create risks to Girl Scouts. Confusion is in the marketplace regarding the relationship between Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts by the expansion of Boy Scouts to include girls in their programs. Girl Scout participation in Boy Scout activities will increase that confusion and will contribute to the misperception that Girl Scouts has merged, or is somehow interchangeable, with Boy Scouts.

Brand. Associating with organizations who do not have a similar brand history, program portfolio, and track record for safety dilutes and tarnishes our brand, and may allow other youth organizations, such as Boy Scouts, to leverage the reputation of Girl Scouts for their own purposes.

 

Things to Do with Girls:

Plan Meetings

Volunteer Toolkit: Plan troop meetings with ease and have more quality time with your troop by using the Volunteer Toolkit. It’s a web app for busy troop leaders. Access it on your phone, tablet, or computer. The Volunteer Toolkit includes:

  • meeting plans for each troop level
  • activity printables
  • digital Journeys
  • meeting scripts, and
  • built-in emails that are time-savers for communicating with families.

Get started: From any page on our website, select the My GS/VTK tab. Enter your username (Girl Scout email) and password. Choose the Volunteer Toolkit option. Once you’re in, choose the Explore tab to browse meeting options with your troop. Select one and you’re ready to go! Customize your year plan anytime by adding or removing activities. Want to learn more? See our cheat sheet or get to know the Volunteer Toolkit tabs.

You must be a registered Troop Leader or Assistant Leader with a current Girl Scout membership to view the Volunteer Toolkit. Need help? Contact customercare@sdgirlscouts.org.

Find Girl Scouts Events and Happenings

Visit the Events page for upcoming activities and training options that empower you to do more with your troop.

Check out the happenings page for your program level, and read the monthly Volunteer Voice email newsletter for tips, highlights, and ideas.

Reserve Meeting, Outing, or Camping Space

Need a place to hold a special meeting? Want to do an outdoor activity like archery or the adventure zone? Is your troop ready to camp, or would they like to experience our art or nature center? We’ve got a property for you! Check out our Property Resource Guide to learn more. When you’re ready, reserve a property.

Check Out Games and Equipment

Need jump ropes, hula hoops, microscopes, GPS devices, coding kits, games, or camping equipment? We’ve got you covered. View our Equipment Catalog to learn what items we stock and how to check them out. Then check availability at our Resource Center locations. 

Connect with a Community Partner

We’ve teamed up with community partners to provide Girl Scouts with things to do like special events and learning and service opportunities—all based on the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Add to troop activities by scheduling a workshop, signing up to volunteer, or attend a special event.

Head Outdoors

Weekend Campouts: Join other San Diego Girl Scout troops for a weekend of camping, teambuilding, and fun at one of our council properties. Campouts are arranged by grade level and run by camp staff. Campouts include Adventure Weekends, Brownie Sleepovers, He and Me, and She and Me options.

Independent Troop Camping: Venture up to our camps in Julian for your next outdoor adventure, or camp at one of our city properties. You’re in charge of your experience! Explore camp, pack your day with activities, or just kick back and enjoy quality time with your troop. 

Adventure Zone: Girls test their courage and build confidence in a safe, supportive environment. Girls in 2nd grade (Brownies) and older can participate in all ground and low-element activities. Fourth graders (Juniors) and older can participate in all activities, including the 40-foot climbing tower. Certified staff oversee Adventure Zone activities.

High Ropes Challenge Course: Located at camp Whispering Oaks in Julian, this course lets girls test their courage and build confidence in a safe, supportive environment. Girls tackle the course, cheer on their friends, and receive the support of their team. Current 4th graders (Girl Scout Juniors) and older are eligible to participate. Certified staff oversee High Ropes activities.

Art and Nature Centers: The Art and Nature Centers at our Balboa Campus provide a space for girls to explore the world as they put their knowledge and skills to the test. Girls work individually and collaboratively to learn more about art, culture, nature, the environment—not to mention themselves! 

Hiking/Backpacking: Designed for individuals, our three-step wilderness progression safely takes girls and adults out of the campground and into the woods. 

Outdoor Resources: Whether you're looking to explore your backyard or the backcountry, Girl Scouts outdoor badges and journeys will strengthen girls’ outdoor skills and ignite their interest in environmental stewardship.

Summer Camps: All girls are welcome at our summer day camps and resident camps. Registration opens Feb. 1.

STEM

Help your troop or girl explore potential STEM careers through STEM badges and Journeys, activities, and community partner events. Check out more STEM resources. Contact our STEM program specialist at stem@sdgirlscouts.org or 619-610-0813.

Travel Near or Far

Travel offers girls a unique experience that allows them to discover new places, appreciate other cultures, and expand their understanding of the world and themselves. To begin, travel is as simple as a local field trip but can progress over time to domestic and even international locations. Preparing for travel by goal setting, planning, and earning funds builds skills that last a lifetime! Learn more about Girl Scout travel options.

Find More Girls for Your Troop

A standard troop has 12 girls. If you need more girls, open your troop using the Opportunity Catalog. This online tool allows girls and families to browse and join available troops in their area. Need help or have questions? Contact membership@sdgirlscouts.org.

Guide Girls through a Girl Scout Journey

Girl Scout Journeys: Help your girls learn leadership by working on a Girl Scout Journey. Every Girl Scout grade level has a series of Journeys that help girls explore and connect with their community, discover their passions, and make the world a better place by taking action. When girls complete a Journey, they:

  • Learn about themselves, their community, and important topics
  • Identify a problem they want to do something about
  • Come up with a creative solution that will make a difference
  • Create a team plan to make that solution a reality
  • Put their plan into action
  • Talk about what they learned—and what they can’t wait to do next
  • Celebrate their success as they earn their National Leadership Journey awards

Help Girls Choose a Journey:

  1. Visit the Award and Badge Explorer.
  2. Select your troop or girl’s grade level.
  3. Select “Journeys” as your topic.
  4. Select Create a PDF to share Journey options with girls.

Find Journeys and Get Started: All Journeys are available in a digital format in the Volunteer Toolkit. Classic Journeys are available in book form in the Girl Scout shop.

Note: Troop leaders and co-leaders have access to digital Journeys in the Volunteer Toolkit. Parents and other volunteers helping girls can request digital Journey curriculum by contacting training@sdgirlscouts.org

Help Girls Learn Skills by Earning Badges

Earning badges helps Girl Scouts build confidence as they try new things and increase resilience as they work through obstacles. Girl Scouts also learn to take the lead in their own lives and in their communities. Simply put: badges help girls grow! Learn more or find badges by program level.

Lead Girls Through Highest Awards

The Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards are Girl Scouting’s highest awards. Working through the highest awards challenges girls to grow in areas of leadership, teamwork, goal setting, and analyzing and solving issues in their community.

As a Girl Scout troop leader, it’s very rewarding to know that you’ve set girls on the path of community leadership and personal success by guiding them though the highest awards. You can take Bronze and Silver Award training in person or online at sdgirlscouts.litmos.com. Older girls sign up for Gold Award training after meeting pre-requisites. Questions? Contact training@sdgirlscouts.org

Participate in Cookie and Fall Product Programs

When girls participate in product programs, they fund life-changing experiences and adventure. They also develop essential life skills—goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—all while soaring in confidence and practicing leadership the Girl Scout way to lift one another up and change the world, together. Learn more.

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