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Girl Scouts across America may no longer be able to travel door-to-door selling cookies as the foundation faces financial struggles.
Declining membership and revenues, a lack of volunteers, rifts between leadership and grassroots, a pension plan with a $347 million deficit, and an uproar over efforts by many local councils to sell summer camps, it has not been a walk in the park these days for the Girl Scouts.
So much so that a congressman is investigating pension liabilities and the sale of camps with the House Ways and Means Committee.
“I am worried that America’s Girl Scouts are now selling cookies to fund pension plans instead of camping,” Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, said in a letter last month to the committee chairman.
Change is difficult with anything, and Girl Scouts have certainly faced their challenges as they undergo a revamping campaign. But issues with those involved at higher levels has trickled down and affected local chapters.
“I care so much about this organization, and that’s why I hate to see it pulled down,” Suellen Nelles, CEO of a local chapter in Fairbanks, Alaska told NY Daily News. “We have leadership at the top who are toxic to this organization and need to go.”
The organization initiated a big transformation in 2003 to appeal to a more diverse population of girls and parents. With new uniforms, handbooks, merit badges, program materials,
“Our brand, as iconic as it is, was misunderstood. It was dated,” CEO Anna Maria Chavez told NY Daily News on Friday.
In 2003, there were 2.8 million youth members. Today it is roughly 2.2 million. Donations are also down — in 2007 the national office and local councils received about $148 million, while in 2011 they only drew in $104 million.
Councils were forced to merge from 2006 to 2009, causing the number of councils to fall from 312 to 112. Instead of improving efficiency, this triggered many longtime employees and volunteers to leave.
Even nationwide cookie sales have dropped — for 2012 to 2013, they are down about 4.5 percent.
But Chavez is optimistic that they can work through this time of transition and adapt their image to a more modern perspective, which would hopefully attract more young girls in to joining.
“Change can be unsettling and it is not surprising that some would prefer for us to remain static,” Chavez told NY Daily News. “But doing so would be a disservice to girls who need us now more than ever.”
Gold Award Recognition
Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better—they change it for good. The Gold Award is a standout accomplishment of young women who develop and carry out meaningful, sustainable solutions to challenges in their communities and the world.
- Young women who pursue their Gold Award aspire to transform an idea and vision for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable, and far-reaching results.
- It’s not only Girl Scouts who understand the value of the Gold Award. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award Girl Scouts.
- Gold Award Girl Scouts who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.
How Can Members of Congress Honor Gold Award Girl Scouts?
Here’s how your office can recognize Girl Scouts in your district/state who have earned their Gold Award—the mark of the truly remarkable:
- Send a congratulatory letter (DOC) along with a certificate (DOC). (Certificates may be purchased in U.S. House and Senate stationery shops.)
- Issue a press release (DOC) to publicize your support and spread the word about the inspiring accomplishments of a girl (or girls) who have earned their Gold Award.
- Invite a Gold Award Girl Scout to visit you in your DC or district office for a photo-op and personal congratulations.
- Contact your local Girl Scout council to ask about participating in its ceremony held to honor Gold Award Girl Scouts.
For information about Gold Award Girl Scouts in your state or district, contact your local council(s) and ask to speak to the staff person who oversees the Gold Award. (Please note that some districts and states may be covered by two or more councils.)
If you need assistance locating your local Girl Scout council, please email us or call 202-659-3780.
The Girl Scouts Have Sued the Boy Scouts. Now What?
A little over a year ago, the president of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. sent a searing letter to her counterpart at the Boy Scouts of America, accusing his organization of engaging in a “covert campaign to recruit girls.”
That campaign has since become overt and, now, the simmering fight between the once-friendly, century-old organizations has spilled into the courtroom.
In a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court this week, the Girl Scouts argued that its fears that its brand would be damaged “have been realized” after the Boy Scouts announced plans this year to drop “boy” from its namesake program while welcoming girls into its ranks.
“We did what any brand, company, corporation or organization would do,” the Girl Scouts said in a statement, “to protect its intellectual property, the value of its brand in the marketplace and to defend its good name.”
In the lawsuit, the Girl Scouts accused the Boy Scouts of infringing on its trademark, engaging in unfair competition and causing “an extraordinary level of confusion among the public.” In one case cited in the suit, the Boy Scouts quoted Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, in its marketing materials, according to the lawsuit.
“We are reviewing the lawsuit carefully,” the Boy Scouts said in a statement. “Our decision to expand our program offerings for girls came after years of requests from families who wanted the option of the B.S.A.’s character- and leadership-development programs for their children — boys and girls.”
The Boy Scouts has served girls through various programs since 1971, though the latest change opens up its most recognizable programs, the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
To Makeba C. Barber, a Girl Scout troop leader in Olympia, Wash., scouting became something of a co-parent to her three children after she left her husband. The Girl Scouts, in particular, helped to empower her two daughters, but the lawsuit, she said, contradicts the lesson it taught.
“The most important aspect of the Girl Scouts that we are supposed to accept is that it’s girl-led,” she said in an interview. “You’ll hear that term all over the Girl Scouts — it’s a girl-led program it’s up to the girls. But this lawsuit was not up to the girls. There was no survey done nobody was asked about it.”
Like many other current and former scouts and troop leaders, Ms. Barber used social media to vent her frustrations with the lawsuit.
The Girl Scouts declined to comment beyond the brief statement, but, in the lawsuit, it argued that there are already numerous examples of confusion — intentional or otherwise — sowed by the Boy Scouts’s decision.
In New Mexico, for example, a Boy Scout troop advertised for new members with a sign calling for “boy and Girl Scouts.” In St. Louis, a Boy Scout leader borrowed from the Girl Scouts’ mission statement for a recruiting flier.
In Texas, a Boy Scout day camp advertised a “Girl Scout” volunteer opportunity. And Boy Scout fliers in several states have advertised opportunities for “Girl Scouts,” too.
In some cases, people have been led to believe that the two organizations have actually merged under the Boy Scouts, adding to the confusion, according to the lawsuit.
But those arguments carry little water with Lucrecer Braxton, a marketing manager in Cincinnati who led her daughter’s Girl Scout troop for several years.
“If the Girl Scouts are feeling threatened by the Boy Scouts, then maybe you need to step up what you’re doing in the Girl Scouts,” she said.
She and others said that the organization should focus instead on attracting and retaining girls with activities they might find in the Boy Scouts, such as camping, though such decisions are typically made at the troop level.
Ms. Braxton and Ms. Barber, who are both black, also said that the organization should work harder to support children of color and those with fewer resources. Both said they had pressed regional leaders in the organization on the issue, with mixed success.
“At least they listened,” Ms. Braxton said. “But, at that time, I was just a little bit jaded.”
Some, including Ms. Barber, also criticized the Girl Scouts’ lawsuit as being hypocritical, especially considering a battle it faced early in its history. Shortly after it was formed, the group came under fire from a top Boy Scout leader who insisted that it stop describing its members as “scouts,” a term he felt should only apply to boys. Ms. Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, refused.
Both organizations have millions of participants but have seen membership declines caused by societal changes in recent years. The Boy Scouts has also had a turbulent few years as it was pressed to openly embrace gay leaders and gay and transgender scouts, which it ultimately did.
This year, the Mormon Church, which teaches that gay relationships are sinful, announced an end to its 105-year partnership with the Boy Scouts. Mormon boys were expected to participate in the program and accounted for about one in five Boy Scouts in the United States.
More Scouting Information to Use:
Merit Badges - requirements and aids
Scout Activities - great scout activity ideas
Scout Awards - see what awards are available to scouts
Scout Ceremonies - some ceremony ideas
Scout Games - patrol or troop games
Scout Graces - fun meal graces
Scout Jokes - funny, gross, and silly jokes for scouts
Scout Projects - community projects for Scouts BSA patrols or troops
Scout Recipes - tasty food recipes for scout camping
Scout Skits - skits that scouts like to do
Scout Songs - songs for scouts
Scout Stories - stories that scouts will enjoy and understand
Scout Uniform - make sure you put all those badges and patches in the right spots
Scout Tests - online tests for scouts to test their knowledge
Scout Schedule - sample schedule to reach First Class rank in 12-18 months
Eagle Scout Schedule - sample schedule to reach Eagle Scout
Camping food tastes best when you make it yourself from an easy recipe whether its chicken in a ductch oven or some dessert over an open campfire. Try a recipe that your troop has not used before and broaden the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus your scouts use.
What I Learned as a 17-Year-Old Girl in Boy Scouts of America
Editor’s note: Back in 2017, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they would begin allowing girls to join in 2018, they announced their decision to remove the word “Boy” from their common program name. At the time, Michelle Harris, whose daughter Mackenzie Harris made history in the very first class of girls to join the historically all-male Cub Scouts (part of the Boy Scouts of America), wrote about her family’s journey for SheKnows. And now, we’re sharing the voice of a 17-year-old female “boy” Scout herself: Melody Fewx of Fremont, CA. Melody is a founding member of Scouts BSA Troop 220, and this is her story in her own words.
On February 1, 2019, history was made when the Boy Scouts of America welcomed girls to join the Scouts BSA program and enabled them to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout. This was the moment I had waited for since I was a wee 9-year-old at my brother&rsquos Cub Scout Family Camp at Wente Scout Reservation in 2011. I was thrilled to join the Boy Scouts of America as a founding member of BSA Troop 220 &mdash and, yes, as a girl.
Even though my official Scouting journey began in August of 2016, in another Scouting program called Venturing, nothing could compare to my experience in a Scouts BSA troop, where I have become part of the family and legacy of 110 years of that Scouting program. My adventure into the Scouts BSA program is a little unorthodox, and some may even say backward. In a way, I started at the &ldquoend.&rdquo
You see, I joined the Boy Scouts of America through Venturing, the high-adventure co-ed program for young adults. However, a few other girls and I had always wanted to be part of the same program the boys experienced. We had heard the exciting tales of summer camp, outdoor exploration and survival skills featured in the Scouts BSA program from our younger brothers, and we were hungry for the same opportunities. Joining that main program was not an option at the time, so we satisfied our hunger through Venturing for as long as we could, because it was our only option.
But we never forgot about our dreams. When the chance to finally join the program we had longed to be a part of for years arose, it was all hands on deck for my friends and I. By the time February 1, 2019 rolled around, we were prepared. We founded Scouts BSA Troop 220 as a way for us to experience Scouts BSA and earn our way to Eagle Scout &mdash as young women.
However, things didn’t go as we had imagined. At our first meeting, a whopping 38 younger girls joined our original small trio to become part of the program. At that same meeting, I was elected the first Senior Patrol Leader of the first Scouts BSA troop for girls in my council.
Senior Patrol Leader is a position of great responsibility in every Scouts BSA troop, and I was floored. Because, despite my previous experience in Venturing and leadership, nothing could have prepared me for the mass of new girls I was instantaneously in charge of. Up to that point, I only had experience leading small groups with minimal communication I quickly realized that this method would not work for a group of now 45 (!!) brand-new Scouts, ranging ages 10 to 17. I had to learn an entirely new toolkit.
So what did I learn? Delegation and clear, frequent communication. Diving in with those skills was the only way I could accomplish the results I wanted given the sheer amount of work that is required to form a new troop. And I knew I couldn&rsquot do it alone I had to delegate, manage, and most importantly, trust in my fellow Scouts to carry out the vision and goals we had laid out.
I never expected that the most valuable experiences I would gain from Scouts BSA wouldn’t come from adventuring, learning survival skills, traipsing through the woods, or even fun and friendships. Instead, they would come from mentoring and training the next generation of future leaders.
Witnessing the growth, determination, and dedication of the new Scouts in my troop has given me a drive I could never have fostered by myself. I have learned that selflessness and teamwork are always the best course of action, and as I work towards my Eagle Scout rank, I will not just be working hard and earning that rank for myself I will be doing it for my entire troop and community. The expectations and admiring gazes of the next generation of Eagle Scouts, regardless of their gender, motivate me to strive to be better, even when I think I am at my best.
Now, as I stand back and watch the girls I trained just a few months ago teach new members, I feel the success of a legacy that I founded. That is an invaluable gift &mdash and one that should not be dependent on someone’s gender.
Show a little feminist you know she’s special with these girl-power kid gifts.
Girl Scout Cookie Championship
It’s the most anticipated time of the year—2020 Girl Scout Cookie season! And to celebrate, Girl Scouts of the USA teamed up with the Food Network for the Girl Scout Cookie Championship, a dessert competition series where professional bakers compete to transform Girl Scout Cookies into delicious dessert creations.
Want to get in on the action? Download our Girl Scout Cookie Championship toolkit and host a watch party with your troop, friends, or family! Our watch party toolkit has everything you need to throw a party you won’t forget: a customizable e-vite, party tip sheet, delicious recipes to try at home, and fun trivia cards for each episode.
Each week, join host Alyson Hannigan to get the story behind your favorite cookie flavors and see current Girl Scouts from Greater New York, Central & Southern New Jersey, and Heart of New Jersey councils give their best cookie tips. Each episode spotlights a theme from our dynamic Girl Scout program and features real-life Girl Scout badges.
Girl Scouts accuse Boy Scouts of ‘damaging’ recruitment war tactics
The Girl Scouts are in a “highly damaging” recruitment war with the Boy Scouts after the latter opened its core services to girls, leading to marketplace confusion and some girls unwittingly joining the Boy Scouts, lawyers for the century-old Girl Scouts organization claim in court papers.
The competition, more conjecture than reality two years ago, has intensified as the Boy Scouts of America organization – which insists recruits pledge to be “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous and kind” – has unfairly recruited girls lately, according to claims in legal briefs filed on behalf of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
The lawyers filed papers in Manhattan federal court Thursday to repel an effort by the Boy Scouts to toss out before trial a trademark infringement lawsuit the Girl Scouts filed in 2018.
Last month, lawyers for the Boy Scouts asked a judge to reject claims that the Boy Scouts cannot use “scouts” and “scouting” in its recruitment of girls without infringing trademarks. They called the lawsuit “utterly meritless”.
The Boy Scouts on Saturday pointed to legal arguments in which it blames the Girl Scouts for reacting to its expansion plans with “anger and alarm” and said the Girl Scouts launched a “ground war” to spoil plans by the Boy Scouts to include more girls.
In a statement, the Boy Scouts said it expanded program offerings for girls “after years of requests from families” who wanted their boys and girls both participating in its character and leadership programs or for other reasons, including a desire to become an Eagle Scout.
“We applaud every organization that builds character and leadership in children, including the Girl Scouts of the USA, and believe that all families and communities benefit from the opportunity to select the programs that best fit their needs,” the statement said.
In its filing, the Girl Scouts said the Boy Scouts’ marketing of expanded services for girls was “extraordinary and highly damaging to Girl Scouts” and had set off an “explosion of confusion”.
“As a result of Boy Scouts’ infringement, parents have mistakenly enrolled their daughters in Boy Scouts thinking it was Girl Scouts,” the lawyers said, adding that this never occurred before 2018.
The Girls Scouts said they can prove there are “rampant instances of confusion and mistaken instances of association between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts” after the Boy Scouts targeted girls and their parents with marketing and recruiting communications in ways it never has before.
In its statement, though, the Boy Scouts said: “To imply that confusion is a prevailing reason for their choice is not only inaccurate – with no legally admissible instance of this offered to date in the case – but it is also dismissive of the decisions of more than 120,000 girls and young women who have joined Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA since the programs became available to them.”
The organization cited proof from a narrow subset of documents turned over by 19 of 250 local Boy Scout councils, including evidence that registration fees sometimes were returned to parents who mistakenly thought they registered girls for the Girl Scouts.
It said repeated instances of confusion and interference at the local level by the Boy Scouts was a tiny fraction of what was occurring nationwide. Both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, like other major youth organizations, have seen declines in membership in recent years as competition grew pre-pandemic from sports leagues and busy family schedules.
In spring 2018, the Boy Scouts program for 11- to 17-year-olds announced it would change its name to Scouts BSA in early 2019. The parent organization, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Cub Scouts, a program serving children from kindergarten through fifth grade, kept their names.
The organization started admitting girls into the Cub Scouts in August 2018, and Scouts BSA began accepting girls in February, 2019, lawyers said.
Girl Scout Cookie Season Is Coming, Even in a Pandemic
Now that we&aposre almost 10 full months into dealing with COVID-19, there isn&apost all that much about the pandemic that we haven&apost experienced already. With the exception of Valentine&aposs Day, we&aposve figured out how to handle the holidays, and (much as we may hate it), millions are used to working and/or learning remotely.
There&aposs still at least one thing that we haven&apost really had to deal with yet, but soon will: what happens to Girl Scout Cookie Season?
The short answer is that not even a pandemic can stop the rollout of America&aposs favorite collection of cookies. The preorder process began in December, and troops of budding young entrepreneurs expect to get their hands on the product in February.
Obviously, the how of Girl Scout Cookie sales will have to change a bit during the first full pandemic sales season. In addition to more socially distant sales in the usual locations, there&aposs also the potential for contactless delivery that&aposs functionally the inverse of how people handled Trick or Treating. One mother-daughter team who spoke to the Chicago Tribune floated drive-thru pickups as an option as well.
For those hoping to stay inside, your best bet this year might be to seek out the Girl Scouts&apos Digital Cookie platform. Rather than functioning as some soulless cookie clearinghouse, Digital Cookie lets girls set up their own personalized order page, where you can place an order, pay online, and even have it shipped. It also offers mobile app orders for those who want to transact from six feet apart.
The plethora of safe distribution options is a huge win not only for the Girl Scouts and their troops, but to anyone in need of a nostalgic favorite in these trying times. "People are looking for that happiness, that joy that they remember growing up as a kid," Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana CEO Nancy Wright told the Tribune. "And Girl Scout cookies are a way for people to remember that happiness and that joy. Girl Scout cookies [are] a way to get to people&aposs hearts, and everybody needs to be refueled these days."
Cookie sales will run roughly through March 22nd, so there&aposs definitely time to get those Thin Mint and Samoa orders in. If there was ever a year to buy an extra box or two, it&aposs this one.
The Girl Scout National Board of Directors comprises 30 men and women, with expertise in fields ranging from financial services to nonprofit management to strategic consulting. The National Board hails from the Latino, African American, Asian American, Native American, and Caucasian communities—reflecting Girl Scouting's strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Additionally, there are three non-board members of the National Board Development Committee who work in partnership with the National Board throughout the triennium.
National Board Officers 2020-2023*
Karen P. Layng, President
Founder and President
Jeanne Kwong Bickford, First Vice President
Managing Director and Senior Partner
Boston Consulting Group
Noorain Khan, Second Vice President
Director, Office of the President
New York, New York
Valarie Gelb, Treasurer
Chief Executive Officer
Gelb Global Business Growth Advisors
Middletown, Rhode Island
Ráchel Roché Walton, Secretary
United States Department of Justice
National Board Members-at-Large 2020–2023*
Mary Ann Altergott
Principal, Talent Management
St. Louis, Missouri
CEO and President
El Segundo, California
Drummond Communications, Inc.
Senior Client Partner
New York, New York
Global Head of Organizational Effectiveness & Inclusion
Muttontown, New York
Global Chief Learning Officer
Managing Director, Business Services
New York, New York
Founder and CEO
Major Executive Search
Rancho Santa Fe, California
Mallett & Associates
Oak Park, Illinois
CEO + Founder
Brit + Co
San Francisco, California
Co-Head of International Wealth Management and Head of International Banking & Lending
Former Board Chair
Girl Scouts of Utah
Chief Operating Officer
Washington, District of Columbia
Edmond C. Rastrelli
Olympus Group LLC
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Palo Alto, California
Benefits Data Trust
Earl Simpkins Jr.
Strategy&, Part of the PwC Network
CEO for North America, Seniors Division
Leslee A. Temple
American Society of Landscape Architects
Black Mountain, North Carolina
Texas A&M San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
CEO and President
Self Storage Zone
Former Senior Vice President and Advisor to the CEO
Herc Rentals Inc.
Burr Ridge, Illinois
Non-Board, National Board Development Committee 2020–2023*
Former Board Chair
Girl Scouts of West Central Florida
Robyn Ratcliffe Manzini
Former Board Chair
Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada
SVP, National Community Relations – External Diversity Programming and CRA Volunteer Management
*The triennium begins October 26, 2020 and will end in July 2023 with the completion of our 56th National Council Session.