Girl Scouts, Girl Scout History Project
Action 70 Patch

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.

New Outreach

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.

Girl Scouts, Girl Scout History Project
History by Decade 1970s

New Program

Girl Scouts, Girl Scout History Project
From Dreams to Reality Patch

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.)

New Uniform

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?

Girl Scouts, Girl Scout History Project
Uniform Definition
Girl Scouts, Girl Scout History Project

Isn’t the phrase “uniform separates” an oxymoron?

Sigh. On to the 1980s.

2 responses to “Girl Scouts Look Back 110 Years: 1970s”

  1. When the Girl Scouts records merged into a digital format, I was unable to get my troop number and the years I was a Girl Scout as well as the badges I achieved. How can I find my connection as a Girl Scout. My troop met at holy child Catholic Church at broad and Duncannon, Philadelphia- mid 70’s

    1. Hi Angela! Philadelphia is now part of the GS of Eastern Pennsylvania. They have a great history committee. I’ve never seen any official policy statement, but my impression is that such information was not kept for very long. Councils reported demographic data to national, but not individual girl records. Have you contacted the church parish? It’s a long shot, but they might have some old photos or newsletters. Let me know if you find anything. Thanks for writing!

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