How the Girl Scouts Work

Types of Girl Scouts

 In 2007, scouts from almost every country in the world gathered in England to celebrate scouting's 100th birthday.
 In 2007, scouts from almost every country in the world gathered in England to celebrate scouting's 100th birthday.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The mission of the Girl Scouts is to create an accepting and nurturing environment where girls can build leadership skills, a social conscience and strong values. Under that umbrella, each group of Girl Scouts has slightly different expectations.

Girl Scouts are divided into different age groups. The youngest group, the Daisy Scouts, is for girls who are five and six years old. They meet in small groups with two adult leaders and can earn learning petals and patches by completing activities. For example, a Daisy Scout group may work with their leader to plant a community garden or complete a craft project during a meeting. Or, a Daisy Scout could earn participation points for reading between meetings.

Brownies are six to eight years old, and earn try-it patches. A Brownie may earn her patches by doing any number of things, including: learning a magic trick, learning how to properly care for the American flag, completing a time line of her life, finding and watching animal homes (like a bird's nest or a duck pond), and making kites with a paper lunch sack. Service projects typically involve the entire troop. Projects could include: collecting food or clothing for a homeless shelter, decorating a nursing home for the holidays or babysitting during a school meeting. Brownies also participate in camping programs.

Juniors are older scouts, from eight to 11 years old. They may earn badges for volunteering, drawing or taking pictures, or learning first aid or computer skills. They also camp and play sports with their troops. Juniors also earn badges by participating in adventure sports -- like caving or rock climbing. Like the Brownies, they typically completed service projects as a team. These scouts may maintain a walking trail in their community or conduct a flag ceremony at a sporting event. They're encouraged to examine their community to determine its needs before choosing a service project.

Girl Scouts 11-17 mix and match activities to suit their particular interests. Girls in this program can learn about careers they might want to pursue in the future, the environment, writing, cooking, backpacking and other more traditional scouting pursuits. This age group also participates in camp. Girl Scouts 11-17 can earn patches or charms in a variety of activities, including newer ones like eco-action, a program that teaches the importance of a clean environment, or more traditional ones like backpacking. These older scouts are expected to perform a service project for each charm that they earn. For example, the eco-action project includes skill-based learning activities, but before a charm is awarded, the girl must complete a related service project, such as volunteering for an environmental cause or creating a directory of local and state level environmental resources.

When Girl Scouts participate in a variety of activities throughout the ranks, they have no trouble fulfilling the Girl Scout motto: "be prepared."