I promised to write about the Girl Scout STUDIO 2B program, so here goes …
STUDIO 2B debuted at the 2002 Girl Scouts of the USA national convention, where the program was hailed as the solution to declining teen membership. The program addressed the problems with teen Girl Scouting that emerged from the landmark research study, “Ten Emerging Truths: New Directions for Girls 11–17.”
Researchers found that Girl Scouts wasn’t considered cool by girls 11 and older. Girls didn’t like the terms “Cadette” and “Senior” and they certainly did not want their friends in middle school to know they were Girl Scouts.
STUDIO 2B would change all of this. It presented a “cool” and “hip” version of Girl Scouts that was to seem sophisticated and slightly mysterious. Meeting in small groups, online, or even working on their own, members of STUDIO 2B had four (not two, as you’d expect) “B” program goals:
Become: Celebrate yourself today and become your best self in the future.
Belong: Be part of a group where you have fun, relate to others with respect, and develop lasting friendships.
Believe: Develop your ideas and voice what’s important to you.
Build: Take action on what you care about and make a difference.
Instead of leaders, girls had advisors, preferably between the ages of 18 and 29 because these women would be “more relatable” than mom. Instead of troops, groups could call themselves anything they wanted or chose to meet online, work on their own, or other new “pathways.”
Instead of handbooks, girls could choose from a collection of single-issue booklets, such as self-esteem, writing skills, running, and saving parks. The books all had hip, slangy names like “Makin’ Waves” or “Cashin’ In” and used lots of apostrophes and exclamation points.
Instead of specific requirements, girls would set their own goals and decide when they had completed a focus book.
But by far the biggest flaw was … wait for it … instead of earning badges to go on sashes, girls would earn charms to go on a charm bracelet. No uniforms needed.
Girls and their advisors were confused. Did STUDIO 2B replace badges or was it something completely new? Could you just flip through a focus book and declare yourself finished?
Was it required to earn the Silver and Gold Awards? An article, “Studio 2B Is Off and Running,” in the Summer 2003 Leader magazine was frustratingly vague:
Many volunteers assumed STUDIO 2B would be optional; one year later the Gold and Silver Award requirements were revised to make STUDIO 2B mandatory. Many leaders/advisors/hip-people-other-than-mom were not happy with the change.
Girls did not rush to sign up for STUDIO 2B. GSUSA responded with multi-page advertising spreads in Leader magazine and supplemental books, sold in the catalog, instructing councils how to implement the program. The Winter 2004 issue of Leader, for example, had 32 pages including a two-page advertising spread and an eight-page pull out guide, “Studio 2B: It’s Easy. Here’s How.” That’s over 1/4 of the issue devoted to the program. Ten of the 2004 catalog’s 48 pages were devoted to S2B.
A major complaint was cost. Each focus booklet was initially $5.95, each charm $4.95, compared with $1.05 badges. The 2003 Leader article acknowledged the cost, suggesting girls “can request them as holiday or birthday gifts.” GSUSA took note, creating a “charm holder” in 2005 that could be pinned to a sash, slashing prices in 2006, and in 2007 creating “focus awards” — Interest Project-shaped patches with designs that resembled the charms and could be sewn onto a vest instead.
However, some charms, notably the ones required for the Silver and Gold Awards, were never offered in the cheaper patch format. One charm, On the Road, only appeared in the catalog for two years before it drove off into the sunset.
By 2009, only five charms and 12 focus patches were advertised in the catalog. None appeared in the 2010 catalog.
How did we get such a misguided program? I think the answer lies in research design. Of the 3,000 girls surveyed for “Ten Emerging Truths,” only 25 percent were actual Girl Scouts. The other 75 percent weren’t going to join just to get jewelry. And if the 25 percent who were already Girl Scouts wanted jewelry, they could make their own with the Jeweler Interest Project.
After years of neglect and decline, STUDIO 2B quietly passed away on April 13, 2012, when Girl Scouts of the USA cancelled the STUDIO_2B Trademark.
There is a famous quote that when Juliette Gordon Low was once asked what should the girls do, she responded, “What do the girls want to do?” Apparently, the girls didn’t want to do STUDIO 2B.
©2015 Ann Robertson. All opinions expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of GSCNC.
7 thoughts on “RIP Studio 2B”
I was at the Nation Board Meeting in Long Beach CA; it was just after some Operational National Volunteers (National Trainers) came out to our Regional Trainers Conference a month prior and delivered our training and some Nationally Developed materials to use to train leaders and staff on the “new” program.
I actually was somewhat enthused and embraced “Not either or, but more, more, more” mantra that the National Trainers were using until I read COMPLETELY all the materials.
I was so proud of my Senior troop taking a good hard and critical look at all the materials I had obtained and then writing National and asking questions. Lots of questions.
As problematic as the 2B program was, I was disappointed that the baby was thrown out with the bath water. A few of the Focus books were actually pretty good. Not the ones required for Silver and Gold, but especially Parks Matter and Mind Your Own Business. MYOB was a great way to introduce business concepts to middle school girls, and unlike the Your Own Business IP which was required for Silver, actually taught the girls to be entrepreneurs. YOB IP had reqs to learn about resumes and job interviews. Great ideas, but these are employee skills, not entrepreneurial ones. But then, GSUSA thinks the cookie sale is about girls running their own business, when they are at best operating as a franchisee of their troop. Our council actually allowed us to sub MYOB for the IP, so we did.
I wonder how long it will take Journeys to suffer the same fate?
We can only hope. Too bad they didn’t learn from Studio 2B enough to NOT implement the Journeys in the first place.
Studio 2B came out and died between when I was a kid and had girls of my own old enough to be affected. I knew there were booklets and charms involved but hadn’t tried any of it myself and didn’t know a lot about it. It sounds surprisingly like the Journeys and new badge program, minus the gigantic hardcover binders in place of the old handbooks.
Once the Journeys hit, my girls – and I – lost interest in being part of Girl Scouts and trust in GSUSA as an organization that was supporting its members’ actual interests and preferences.
It was at a crucial time for my older daughter, who was barely allowed to do her Bronze under the old rules but everything else would have to have been under the new rules. We attempted some Journeys; she hated them thoroughly. I didn’t like them any better. She loved GS before that; it went downhill rapidly. Now, it’s pretty much too late to regain her interest – she’s halfway through high school and doesn’t want to be a GS any more. Some of the other girls her age stuck it out a bit longer, but it’s so much work for the leaders to get all of the girls through a Journey that it’s more effort than a lot of people (adults and girls) want to put in.
We liked the badges. We liked their variety. We loved some of the Council’s Owns/Troop’s Owns from other councils – mysteries, horses, ice skating among them. The financial/entrepreneurial/business-oriented badges, which seem to be emphasized an awful lot now, were not among the favorites.
Combine the thematically narrow, very long (unless you do them as a weekend event, which many do) Journeys being mandatory with the requirements that a Silver supposedly has to be outside of the GS community except when a girl volunteers at Council-run GS outreach camps and runs a center or something else there, and there’s a lot of inconsistency and resentment. Rather than the Journeys becoming a shared, core program among troops all over, they are done a bunch of different ways – some thoroughly; some with as much brevity as possible.
Such a shame. The Metal Awards’ requirements could have used some tweaking, sure, but not like this. A clear skill progression (badges or otherwise) plus project-interest-specific badges plus a project (with supervision by someone more experienced than the girl) would have been far better.