How the Girl Scouts Work

The Girl Scout Life

Girl Scouts make signs at the Lynx Block Party prior to the game between the Minnesota Lynx and the Detroit Shock.
Girl Scouts make signs at the Lynx Block Party prior to the game between the Minnesota Lynx and the Detroit Shock.

Scouting life has changed since the days of Juliette Gordon Low, but much of it still revolves around camping. Camping activities vary based on the age group. Day camps are often the young Girl Scout's first experience with camping. The girls participate in many of the traditional camping activities -- crafts, making s'mores, hiking -- but return home each day.

Brownies, Juniors and Girls 11-17 enjoy an array of scouting adventures. In resident camps, the campers visit an established campsite, equipped with a place for the girls to sleep and facilities for cooking and bathing. The amenities offered at each campground vary. While some resident camps have bunk beds and lodges, others are positively rustic. Core staff camping is another option for scouting troops. In core staff camping, the troop is helped at their campsite by a core group, who provide supplies, food and first aid support. This is a good option for a troop with a leader who's leery of the responsibility of taking a group of young girls camping by herself.

In trip camping, the Girl Scout troop moves from one camp spot to the next each day, traveling by bicycle, canoe or horseback. Girl Scout troops implement Leave No Trace or minimal impact procedures while on camping excursions.

Aside from camping, rituals are also fundamental to the Girl Scouts, including the ritual of the awarding of the dime. The significance of the shiny new dime is the ten parts of the Girl Scout Law, which include the reminder to be honest, fair, respectful and make the world a better place. Another ritual is to keep a small amount of the ashes from one campfire to add it to the next one -- whether that campfire is built the next day or the next summer, and no matter the location. If more than one scout collects ashes, they're pooled before adding them to the campfire.

In the past, Girl Scouts revolved around the three Cs -- crafts, camping and cooking. But today, you can add computers and careers to that list. The Girl Scouts of America has been extremely proactive in its effort to remain relevant to young ladies, and the proof is in the nearly 3 million girls who participate in the organization. This number has remained remarkably consistent even though the competition for a young girl's time increases every year.

The Girl Scouts developed the Girl Scout Research Institute to grow the organization in areas that interest the girls. These days, girls are encouraged to name their own groups and mix and match activities to develop a program that suits their interests.

What do the scouts wear these days? A tunic, sash or vest that they may pair with a polo or other collared shirts, and skorts, slacks or skirts.