Badges, Activities, & Beyond, Family Experience, Volunteer Experience

Top 5 Reasons to Earn Girl Scout Badges

I began my Girl Scouting journey at 5 years old and had so much fun, I never left. Today, I’m a lifetime member and have made Girl Scouts my full-time job. Over many years, I managed to experience almost everything GSUSA’s National Program had to offer. If a new patch was released, I was ready to sign up — and to this day I am an avid patch collector. I loved the Highest Awards — the pins, what they represented, and what they taught me along the way, especially as I made a difference in my community. However, there was one main experience I enjoyed repeatedly, as it is one of our most formative and customizable options: earning Girl Scout Badges.

What is a Girl Scout Badge? Badges are representations of what a girl has learned and become proficient in. Generally, each badge connects to a specific subject, such as camping, making friends, starting a business, or robotics. Each age level has their own set of badges to choose from, so experiences are age appropriate and grow along with each Girl Scout.

To get started, all a girl must do is choose a badge!

Arrianne Byrum, Program Team Leader for GSWO, in her Brownie uniform.

There are a specific number of steps required to earn each badge. For example, Girl Scout Daisy badges have three steps to complete while Brownies and older have five steps. Each required step has three activities to choose from, and a girl only needs to complete one activity to complete the step. The magic of a Girl Scout badge is that they are flexible – if your girl isn’t excited about the three activities provided to complete a step, feel free to come up with an alternative! As long as the alternate activity still accomplishes the “spirit” of the requirement, girls are free to do that instead. Once all steps are completed, the badge can be purchased from a council shop and applied to the front of her uniform proudly.

So, why should Girl Scouts earn badges in the first place? Here are my top five reasons:

1. To Explore and Discover New Interests
There is something for every Girl Scout in the GSUSA Badge Explorer, and new options are constantly being added! If a girl has an interest, there is likely a badge available that can help her explore and learn more about her passion along the way. If a girl has never considered a topic but wants to explore it without too much commitment, a Girl Scout badge is an amazing way to do so with very little buy-in. She may discover she loves hiking, or maybe she’ll find out that pottery just isn’t her cup of tea. Either way, she is exploring her interests, learning new things, and discovering something new about herself in the process.

2. To Learn New Skills
Badges are fun and interactive – they aren’t meant to feel like homework! Badge activities are designed to give your Girl Scout a hands-on experience with the subject at hand. In the Robotics Badge Series, for instance, girls aren’t just researching what robots do. They are also creating things that help them demonstrate new concepts! Whether she tries a new skill for the first time or discovers the opportunity to share something she is particularly good at, your Girl Scout can open a world of possibilities for herself by finding new hobbies or even a future career.

“The symbols you wear on your sleeve mean that you have an intelligent interest in the subjects you have chosen, understand the principles of them, and can give reasonable, practical proof of this.”

— Scouting for Girls, Official Handbook of the Girl Scouts, 1920

3. To Show the World What She’s Accomplished
Girl Scouts are intentional and lead their own experiences when choosing a badge. Badges are designed so that by the time girls have earned the badge, they should be proficient in the subject and be able to share what they’ve learned — and that should be celebrated! She’ll show the world all the amazing things she has accomplished by proudly displaying her badges on the front of her uniform alongside all the other cool things she’s done.

4. To Personalize the Girl Scout Experience
When troops vote for the badges they want to earn while planning the year’s activities, it is inevitable that some girls may not get to earn all of their favorites. However, girls are welcome and encouraged to earn badges independently, especially if the girl and her family are already doing activities that meet badge requirements. The freedom to earn badges outside of troop meetings ensures each girl can have a unique Girl Scout experience and share it with the people most important to her.

5. To Easily Deliver the GSLE to your Girl or Troop
Badges are a great, bite-sized solution for leaders who are passionate about delivering the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) to their troops. The GSLE is GSUSA’s research-based model that describes what girls do, who they do it with, how they do it, and how they benefit. Badges are just one small part of the National Program, which falls under the “Variety of Activities” piece of the formula. Every badge is designed with the GLSE in mind, meaning badgework incorporates the three Girl Scout Processes without much extra work on your part. Combined with the supportive and caring space you create as a leader, badges are part of the formula that helps girls grow in the five GSLE outcomes. And that’s why we’re all here, isn’t it?

Ready to start earning badges? Explore the full badge lineup or bring up overviews and full meeting plans in the Volunteer Toolkit. Don’t forget — your friendly neighborhood GSWO Program Department offers council-sponsored badge workshops each membership year. Check out the Activities Calendar to discover upcoming badge events for all ages (and don’t forget to register)!

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