Faith Like a Girl Scout

Happy almost Girl Scout Week GSHPA Blog Fam!  We are so excited to be gearing up for the 2021 Girl Scout Week which kicks off on Girl Scout Sunday, March 7th.  Make sure you keep an eye on the Blog next week, because there will be so many exciting posts celebrating Girl Scout Week as we lead up to our 109th Birthday!   

I would be remiss if I did not also wish you a Happy International Women’s month!  We are excited to celebrate International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8th, the second day of Girl Scout Week.  There are so many exciting things happen in March I can barely stand it!  

Now, let’s talk about the first day of Girl Scout Week, the kick off for a full week of celebration that girls across the country celebrate, Girl Scout Sunday!  (Stay with me, there is a little bit of a history lesson before we get into the good stuff!) 

As we all know, Juliette Gordon Low (JGL), met and worked with Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts while in London.  She worked with him on creating the female equivalent while in London.  Together, they then came to America to build the Girl Guides of America movement.  Juliette learned so much from Lord Baden-Powell; how to run a youth organization, activities that were important for girls to learn including confidence, courage, and character, and the importance of creating a space for girls of any religion to participate together, as a unit.  Lord Baden-Powell made it a point to never tether the Boy Scouts to a specific Religion, and JGL followed suit.   

On March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low hosted the first Girl Guides of America meeting (later the Girl Scouts of America) in her carriage house (it was the early 1900’s version of a garage).  There were 18 girls in attendance, that Juliette invited herself.  Some were from families of prominence in Savannah, and some from the local synagogue!  The mixing of religions was something that was seldom done in the early 1900’s.   

When the time came to recruit Troop Leaders for the newly established Girl Guides of America, JGL asked four women to lead the first troop.  Three of those four women were Jewish.  Two of the three of those original leaders went on to hold high ranking positions within the Girl Scouts of America in the first established councils.  Again, the mixing of religions was not something that was commonplace in the early 1900’s, but JGL did not care about the social norm, she cared the girls who joined her organization had the best possible experience, and she knew that would come from powerful female leaders.  

Random Fun Fact! Did you know that the first commercially baked Girl Scout Cookies were made in a Jewish Bakery?  Bonus points if you know what year the first cookies were made commercially!  (If you need a helping hand for your guess, take a look at this article!) 

Juliette Gordon Low was a woman of faith.  She was progressive in her thinking about religion and the relationship it should have in your social engagements, which made her an outcast.  However, her church, the Christ Church of Savannah, was no stranger to being ahead of the times.  The Christ Church was the first Georgian church to have a female ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons.  (To learn more about Susan W. Harrison take a look at the Christ Church of Savannah’s historical timeline!) 

While the Girl Scouts are still a non-denominational organization, and we welcome girls of any and all faiths. Girls are encouraged to recognize that faith can be a driving force for many.  What you put your faith in is where we all differ, and that’s what makes this such a great organization.   

Now, let’s talk about some of the awards girls can earn based on their faith! 

Girls are able to earn multiple different faith based awards.  The official Girl Scout awards include the My Promise, My Faith Pins.  These pins are able to be earned annually from first year Daisys through Graduating Ambassadors.  These pins are earned by choosing a line from the Girl Scout Law and studying how that line corresponds to their faith.  The girls are tasked with researching poems, songs, or stories in their faith that also show the line they’ve chosen from the Law.  They are also tasked with researching inspirational quotes from women and in talking to women within their faith or outside of their faith to discover how they live the line from the law.   

What makes this award unique is that it is not denominational.  Girls of any faith could earn these awards.  In our thirty county foot print we have had girls earn this award in almost every religion.  We currently have a troop finalizing their award in the Hindu Religion!   

Girls can also earn awards specifically focused on their individual religion.  To Serve God awards are created by members of Faith Based organizations who are also Girl scouts.  Girls work with advisors, whether spiritual or Girl Scout, to earn their religious award.  There are more than 29 different denominations with advanced awards offered through the Pray Pub organization in partnership with the Girl Scouts.   

These awards, like all of our awards, are unique to the girls who earn them.  No two projects ever look the same and no two girls ever bring the same experiences to their Girl Scout Experience.   

To learn more about the My Promise, My Faith Pins or the awards offered through the Pray Pub Partnership, check out here, or here, your place of worship, or your Girl Scout Handbook!  


Post by Erica

Gold Award- Myth vs Fact

Written by Brynne Hall

The Girl Scout Gold Award is something that most Girl Scouts have heard at least once in their time as members, but only a small group end up achieving. It is the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve has a girl member. One piece of the Gold Award is to address a root issue in the area of a girl’s choice. The root issue they will tackle could be anything from food insecurity to intergenerational relations to social injustice and everything in-between. The ultimate goal of a Gold Award project is to not only address a root issue, but to also allow girls to build and demonstrate their leadership skills in a positive way so they can continue to be leaders into adulthood.

Sounds pretty amazing right? On top of the benefits already mentioned, Gold Award Girl Scouts can receive special scholarships when pursuing secondary education. And Gold Award Girl Scouts interested in join the military are entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade. Additionally, this distinction impresses many potential employers who are looking for individuals with initiative, creative problem solving skills and established leadership abilities.

While there are so many great things about earning your Gold Award as a Girl Scout, there are also many myths and misconceptions about the Gold Award and how to earn it.

So let’s break down a few of those to help our girls and volunteers better understand the world of Gold Award…

Myth: Girls can only earn their Gold Award if they have been a member of Girl Scouts since Daisies (K-1st grade).

Fact: Girls can join Girl Scouts at any time and still earn their Gold Award! We recommend starting your Gold Award in 9th or 10th grade (as a Senior Girl Scout) so you have plenty of time to complete the prerequisites (see next Myth) and your Gold Award project. We are happy to help girls who start later in their Girl Scout journey complete their Gold Award as well.

Myth: Girls have to earn their Bronze and Silver Awards before starting the Gold Award.

Fact: We have two prerequisite paths and girls must choose one of these paths before starting their Gold Award project:

            1. Two Senior or Ambassador-level journeys

            1. One Senior or Ambassador-level journey and Silver Award

Girls are given these options to ensure every Girl Scout can pursue their Gold Award if they way even if they have not received any previous higher awards. The goal of both journeys and the Silver Award is to teach girls the difference between community service and a Take Action project, which is the foundation of a Gold Award project. Girls need to understand how to identify and address a root issue and how to build that into a project, and through completing journeys and/or the Silver Award, they will progress much more easily into the Gold Award project expectations.

Myth: Girls can earn the Gold Award as a troop or group project.

Fact: The Gold Award is an individual award and therefore each Girl Scout must choose their own Gold Award project. While troop members and troop leaders can be a great support and are more than welcome to join a girl’s “Gold Award Team” it is important to note that the Gold Award is an individual award rather than a group project.

Myth: Girls can just choose their parent or troop leader as their Project Advisor

Fact: A Project Advisor should be a “subject matter expert” on the issue or topic being explored in a Gold Award project. We strongly encourage girls to connect with someone in their community to fill this role so they can find someone who can best support them throughout their project. Additionally it give the girls the opportunity to network outside of her immediate family and Girl Scout circle. 

Myth: Girls can raise money for another existing organization that they care about as their Gold Award project.

Fact: No, due to federal IRS regulations GSHPA has to follow as a non-profit organization, our members cannot raise funds for an outside organization. While they can collect physical items to donate (coats, toiletries, animal food, etc.), they cannot solicit monetary donations for an outside organization. The overall goal of the Gold Award is for girls to find creative and unique solutions for their project and show their leadership skills to address a root issue and this goes beyond collecting resources.

Myth: Girls have until their 18th birthday or high school graduation to complete their Gold Award projects.

Fact: Girls have until September 30th of the year they graduate high school to complete their project. Graduation year of 2021? You have until September 30th 2021 to complete your project.

Myth: You do not need prior approval to start your project and only need to submit a Final Report.

Fact: All Gold Award candidates MUST use GoGold for every step of their project, starting by submitting a Gold Award Project Proposal. Once submitted each proposal is reviewed by GSHPA’s Gold Award Management team. The team will then connect with the Gold Award candidate for a short interview to ensure she is set up for success. During this interview the GSHPA Gold Award Management Team will either approve the proposal or share feedback/suggestions needed to add before approval. Once the Gold Award project is formally approved the Girl Scout can begin! After completing her Gold Award project the girl will submit her Gold Award Final Report in GoGold for final review and approval before she is officially named a Gold Award Girl Scout. 

Myth: Girls and families have to be financially responsible for your project’s expenses.

Fact: No, there are many ways to fund your Gold Award project! The GSHPA Fund Development department can help create a plan for each girl pursuing her Gold Award to help her fundraise and find creative fundraising solutions. Girls can also use money earned through the Fall Fundraiser and Cookie programs as well as approved additional money earning opportunities (the Gold Award Management team can help guide you on this).

Myth: Since the Gold Award is an individual project, the girl has to do everything alone.

Fact: No! It is important to note that there are many people who are there to support each Girl Scout through her Gold Award journey. While developing a Gold Award project girls will create a team of multiple individuals helping them along the way allowing them to further their leadership skills! The Gold Award team can include family, friends, fellow Girl Scouts, community members, etc. Additionally, the Project Advisor is there to help guide girls through obstacles and issues that may arise during their project. And don’t forget about troop leaders, parents, etc. which will be a Gold Award Girl Scout’s biggest cheerleaders along the way! And last, but not least the GSHPA Gold Award Management team is here to help! We can answer any questions you have, we will coach you throughout your project and can help you strategize if you have to change your project along the way. We will also be here to celebrate with you when you cross the finish line of your project!

Hopefully this has given you a better idea of what Gold Award is all about!

Learn more and how to get started here .

And to reach out to the GSHPA Gold Award Management team, please contact mygoldaward@gshpa.org or 800-692-7816.

Bronze Award Interview

Three years ago five girl scouts from Troop 20078 in York, PA got together to start the planning of their Bronze award, this September they completed it and want to share it with you!

Aviana Gonzalez, Tipton Brenner, Sierra Rakes, Aliana Ash, and Alivia Fluck worked together through the brainstorming, planning, fundraising, and execution of interactive sidewalk art in their community.  The girls faced many obstacles including differing ideas, a pandemic, and paint spills, and were able to work through it all and learn somethings along the way.

According to Tipton, “this is something that some kids would probably like to do, and since we can’t make something that everyone can touch, it’s on the floor, it’s touched with your feet.”

Alivia added, “We wanted to keep kids active because we’re almost always on our devices.”

Aliana said, “It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of practice and patience, trust me, we all learned patience during this time.  If we didn’t have it before, we learned it.”

Aviana shared, “It took a lot of coming together to actually complete this project.” The girls want to thank all the parents and leaders who helped, the community to participate with the fundraisers, and the businesses who donated to their project. 

“just keep pushing through, no matter how much struggles come in the way”

Words of Advice:

Aliana: “ Don’t give up, be like, this is my goal, this is what I want to do. But remember you have to do a lot of stuff with it, it is a process, do your best and there is a good outcome. There’s always a good ending.”

Tipton: “My biggest advice would probably be to just keep pushing through, no matter how much struggles come in the way, like people are saying, ‘oh I don’t like your idea’. Just keep pushing through.”

Aviana: “Just go with the flow, accept other people’s ideas, in the end you are going to come up with something great.”

Alivia: “Honestly, I just want to say to remember this ain’t going to be quick. Patience is a virtue and remember, it’s gonna take awhile. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.”

To listen to the complete interview with the Girl Scouts, visit us on YouTube.

Credit for capturing the amazing Girl Scout moments featured in this post goes to Randy Flaum, thank you!