Amy Foster
October 08, 2012 7:00 am

Here at the Heatley Cliff, we love a good uniform. We also love themes and categories and personal challenges. This is why the Girl Scouts are so appealing to us, as they speak to our combined OCD natures on every level. You do something, you get a pretty patch. If only adult life was like that. Think of all the badges we would have! The Throw Pillow patch, The Vodka patch, The Vintage Dress Shopping patch, The Grocery Store More Than 4 Times in One Week patch and of course, the Hell Yeah, I Knit This Myself! patch.

This week on the podcast, we are talking about the Girl Scouts. Sher wasn’t that keen at first and this is because her experiences have only been through the Canadian version, The Girl Guides, which are sadly a mere shadow of their American counterpart. My daughter Eva joined in Canada a couple years ago and left because it was not fun and disorganized. My older daughter, Mikaela, was a Girl Scout in Nashville and has only the fondest memories. She still has her vest and sash, loaded up with patches, that she will proudly show off to anyone who asks.

Sher found this great article on Jezebel.com while doing research and immediately fell in love with the concept of Scouting. The truth is, like the article says, Girl Scouts are badass. They are more than cookie sales and friendship bracelets. I never had the chance to be a Girl Scout, but in my heart, I feel I am one. Below are just some of the reasons why.

  • The founder, Juliette Gordon Lowe, believed so much in the Scouts that she sold her jewelry to finance the first troop. This was in Savannah – one of the coolest cities in the world as far as I’m concerned – but well before women could even vote, and certainly not a mecca for any kind of Women’s Lib.
  • The Girl Scouts were one of the first organizations to include the disabled within their ranks, doing so in the first decade of their institution.
  • At first, the badges were admittedly a little twee – Child Nurse, for example. But by the 1920s, girls could earn their Economics badge and Interpreter badges. Today, the badges reflect not only self empowerment but social activism. For example, a girl could earn the Inside Government badge, The Entertainment Technology badge, the It’s Your Business, Run it! badge or the Social Butterfly badge, which teaches girls how to navigate friendships in real life and online.
  • In a time when girls were supposed to sit around and do needle point while praying for a husband, the Girl Scouts encouraged young women to get outside, be active and learn survival skills in the wild.
  • The Scouts are encouraged to reach out beyond their immediate social circle. Leaders include girls whose moms are in jail or who are in the Foster Care system.
  • Martin Luther King gave the Scouts props for pushing desegregation on a national level. The first black Troupe was founded in 1917 and the first Native American Troupe in 1921. While ridiculously, laws did not allow these groups to mix with the white girls, the Scouts found a way by holding summer camps all over the country that integrated the Troupes and encouraged inter racial friendships.
  • When a 7-year-old transgendered girl was initially denied entry into her local GS Troupe, the national headquarters started the conversation about what it meant to be a girl. Not long after, they pronounced that anyone who identified themselves as a girl was welcome to join the Girl Scouts, and the little girl did join her local Troupe.
  • In 1992, girls were allowed to replace the Under God part of the girl scout pledge with any Deity they chose, including, for the atheists, Humanity.
  • Famous alumni? Check: Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright, Gloria Steinham, Sandra Day O’Connor, Martha Stewart (of course), Barbara Walters and Taylor Swift (like, last year?).
  • Crazy right wing conspiracy people hate the Girl Scouts… Why, you ask? They think they are pushing a feminist liberal agenda and brainwashing young girls. One church in Virginia even banned them from having meetings in their basement because they actually said they were giving out Jr. Abortion badges (do I really need to say they weren’t?). Even if they were in cahoots with Planned Parenthood (which they are not), I love the fact that a gathering of girls who are looking to empower themselves and reach out to all members of their community is threatening to these whack jobs.

The best thing about the Girl Scouts is their ability, over the years, to evolve. They maintain a huge and relevant presence online, they have totally restructured the way they approach meetings and activities to how girls live today, in the real world. I encourage everyone to LOOK AT THIS VIDEO and I dare you not to shed a tear or join your nearest local chapter.

(Image via ShutterStock.)

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