Girl Scout Traditions: An Overview
In March of 1912, Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop to prepare girls to meet the world with courage, confidence, and character. With over 100 years of history, Girl Scouts has taken on quite a few traditions. Here are some awesome traditions you can take part in to celebrate Girl Scouts!
Slogan & Motto
The Girl Scout slogan, used since 1912, is “Do a good turn daily.” The slogan is a reminder of the many ways that girls can contribute positively to others every day.
The Girl Scout Motto is “Be prepared.” A 1947 Girl Scout Handbook explains, “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.” Decades later, Girl Scouts still follow the same example.
The Girl Scout Sign
The Girl Scout Sign is a symbol used by Girl Scouts around the world to gather attention, open a meeting, or to show support for Girl Scouting everywhere. To make the sign, raise your right hand and hold up the number three. Easy, right? While making your three, make sure that your thumb is holding your pinky finger, imagining how the strong protect the weak. Now, squeeze your three fingers together to show how Girl Scouts stick together!
The Girl Scout Promise & Law
The Girl Scout sign comes in handy (get it?!) when reciting The Girl Scout Promise. The Promise is said at the beginning of each meeting while flashing the Girl Scout sign proudly, and standing up as straight as can be. Your three fingers in the Girl Scout sign also symbolize the three parts of the Girl Scout Promise. The last line of the Promise agrees to live by the Girl Scout Law. Girl Scouts promise to be honest, friendly, courageous, respectful, and responsible.
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.
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,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Girl Scouts recognize each other by doing the Girl Scout Handshake when they meet. To do this, hold up the Girl Scout sign with your right hand, and shake hands with your left. Your left hand is closer to your heart, which signifies your new friendship. The handshake is used by Girl Scouts and Girl Guides all over the world, so no matter where you go, you can always introduce yourself and make a new friend!
Girl Scouts end their meetings with a friendship circle. The troop stands in a circle crossing their right arms over their left and takes the hand of each friend beside them. This circle represents the unbroken chain of friendship with Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world. A light friendship squeeze is passed from hand to hand while everyone sings “Make New Friends.” Check out the San Diego Girl Scouts’ to see a friendship circle in action.
Badges give girls the opportunity of exploring their interests and learning new skills while showing the world all that she’s accomplished. The seven legacy badges are built on over 100 years of Girl Scout history. These seven (Artist, Athlete, Citizen, Cook, First Aid, Girl Scout Way, and Naturalist) are available at five levels of Girl Scouting, from Brownie all the way up to Ambassador. New badges and opportunities are added every year, so no matter what your girl is interested in, there’s a badge for that!
When girls earn badges, they need to put them somewhere! That’s where uniforms come in. For over a century, Girl Scouts have proudly worn distinctive uniforms that symbolize the high ideals for which the organization stands. Girls want to look—and feel—their best when representing Girl Scouts. And now they can, with uniform options that are in step with today’s trends and active lifestyles. Our new unified look keeps the iconic elements of the classic Girl Scout uniform, but adds a few modern twists.
Girl Scouts at each level now wear one required element (tunic, sash, or vest) to display official pins and awards. Girls can mix and match pieces from the official Girl Scout collection to complete the uniform, or add items from their own wardrobes.
Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere, or SWAPS, are small tokens of friendship that girls share with other Girl Scouts they meet while traveling. SWAPS can be handmade and should tell something about the givers or their group. They should also represent where the givers’ are from, like their country, community, local Girl Scout council or troop.
Celebrating is fun and ceremonies help Girl Scouts mark special events throughout the year. Ceremonies can commemorate accomplishments or simply added to the start or end of a meeting. Quite a few Girl Scout ceremonies have already been established, but girls can always create their own! Girls can plan a ceremony around a theme or topic like nature or friendship. Whatever they’re celebrating, ceremonies allow girls to be involved in Girl Scout history and traditions while creating special memories of their own.
Special Days in Girl Scouting
Continue making memories by also celebrating some of these big dates in Girl Scouting throughout the year!
- October 31 is Founder’s Day. In 1860, founder of Girl Scouts of the USA Juliette Gordon Low was born in in Savannah Georgia.
- World Thinking Day, February 22, is when Girl Scouts of the USA and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) celebrate together by taking part in activities that promote changing the world for the better.
- On March 12 we celebrate Girl Scouts’ birthday. It’s when Juliette Gordon Low officially registered the first 18 girl members in Savannah, Georgia of 1912. Actually, we celebrate the whole week! Girl Scout Week starts on a Sunday and ends with Girl Scout Sabbath on Saturday, always including Girl Scouts’ birthday.
- Girl Scout Leader’s Day falls on April 22. This day honors all the hard-working volunteers that serve as leaders and mentors in partnership with girls. Girls, their families, and communities find special ways to thank their adult Girl Scout volunteers.
- Every three years we celebrate the Girl Scouts’ national convention. G.I.R.L. 2017 was held in Columbus, Ohio. The next one will convene in Orlando, Florida of 2020. Stay tuned for details!
Traditions are an important part of Girl Scouts. They give Girl Scouts a sense of history—and inspire them to be the best they can be. Sharing traditions with millions of Girl Scouts—and the huge network of Girl Scout alums who came before them—helps remind girls they belong to a big, powerful sisterhood.