Girl Scouts adapted to the rapid changes that transformed US society in the 1970s.
At the 1969 National Council Session, Girl Scouts of the USA committed to creating a membership body rich with religious, racial, ethnic and economic diversity. The first step toward achieving that goal was reaching out to groups that were underrepresented in Girl Scouts.
Staff created specialized recruitment brochures, tailored to Black, Hispanic, Asian and American Indian communities. One initiative created a tracking and referral system to keep migrant workers in troops as they follow seasonal work throughout the year.
The Girl Scouts also focused on specific issues, such as pollution, civil rights, and hunger. Teens focused on the US government system when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1971.
World to Explore replaced the 1963 program model, with five broad categories. The Dreams to Reality program expanded career exploration activities for all age levels.
But in my opinion, two words summarize Girl Scouts in the 1970s: Rockwood and Pants.
(I’m forgoing an opportunity to riff on Rockwood because I want to talk about PANTS.)
The hottest topic at that 1969 meeting in Seattle was uniforms. Responding to waves of requests from girls, GSUSA announced that it would remain a uniformed movement and update girl uniforms.
The most requested item? Pants. Active girls—not to mention their mothers—did not want to sacrifice movement for modesty. The 1973 Girl Scout catalog announced the arrival of PANTS, one option in a new, mix-and-match wardrobe.
Pants are now a permanent staple of the Girl Scout wardrobe. Now, I like pants as much as anybody, but I remain confused about the “uniform separates” idea. Personal choice and expression are fabulous, but “uniform” means identical, right?
Isn’t the phrase “uniform separates” an oxymoron?
Sigh. On to the 1980s.