My recent post on the unpopular Girl Scout Studio 2B program revived an old tale about the program’s signature charms being recalled due to high led content.
I’d heard the story myself and decided to investigate.
It turns out that Girl Scouts of the USA did, in fact, recall a charm in November 2007.
According the press release announcing the recall (see below), the specific issue related to the lead content of one paint color of one charm, not the metal itself. Specifically:
Current standards indicate that metal and paint objects for children under age six must be under 600ppm, and while the charm was not an age-specific activity award, GSUSA has made the recall of this accessory.
GSUSA Press Release, November 17, 2007.
The charm in question appeared in the 2007 Girl Scout Catalog, which described it as “perfect for keyrings, backpacks or totes.”
How Rumors Get Started
It is easy to see how this myth arose. Studio 2B seemed to be blamed for everything else.
The Studio 2B program began switching from charms to patches the following year, making it easy to assume they were eliminated due to their lead content–not their program content.
For all of Studio 2B’s flaws, at least it wasn’t lethal.
A failed program concept for Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts.
STUDIO 2B debuted at the 2002 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. (The Ambassador age level was introduced in 2008.)
Studio 2B’s Goals
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 “B” program goals:
Shouldn’t it be 4B?
Excellent question. The components of Studio 2B do not add up. That should have been a red flag. Bed, Bath, and Beyond apparently can count.
Too Many Choices
Instead of leaders, girls had advisors, preferably young women between the ages of 18 and 29 who 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.
We Don’t Understand!
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.
What Went Wrong?
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.
Still, I fully believe that reinstating Studio 2B or a similar program still could trigger an apocalypse.
You’ve probably seen examples online, such as these camping-themed badges from Demerit Wear.
They range from funny to foul and some are far too mature for our dear girls’ delicate sensibilities.
(And just how many fart badges does one Cub Scout need?)
I’ve been a freelance writer in a home office for 20-some years, so I earned the full set of working-from-home recognitions long before it was trendy.
Apparently, spoof badges aren’t a new idea. I found a several proposed leader badges in, where else, Leader magazines from December 1958 and February 1959.
For your enjoyment and troop planning, I present (only slightly edited):
Vintage Spoof Badges
The Idiot badge may be earned in various ways. A simple start is to forget the can opener on the night of the big party–or, after careful solitary rehearsal of the flag ceremony, to go blank when a group of wide-eyed Tenderfeet (-foots?) are looking to you for guidance.
The Straight Face badge is one toward which credits can be earned painlessly at every meeting. When you can ask seriously, “Don’t you think steel wool and scouring powder are a little too rough for a baby’s skin?” or comment, “It’s very messy to put your elbow into the soup to test the temperature”– you’re made!
Earned by all those ladies who must be pioneer campers, dignified hostesses, landscape gardeners, puppet makers, and untold other things in rapid succession.
The primary requirement for earning this badge is to have gotten into improbable and thorough trouble while doing an extraneous good deed.
Ms Susie ventures out into the icy world on a particularly nasty day in order to light the stove at the church where the troop met, so that some hours later the room would be warm. On the way down the hill from the church, her car slips into a deep ditch, requiring a tow truck and the payment of $150.
Ms Linda decides to take home one of her Brownies who lives miles beyond nowhere in the Arkansas countryside, rather than let her wait an hour for her parents to pick her up. Heavy rains had converted the back roads into deep mud. On the return trip, to avoid some heavy branches overhanging the road, she got ignominiously stuck in the mud, up to the floor of her car. It took a good half hour to get out, to say nothing of mud (sprayed over everything and oozing through the floor) and frayed nerves. In cleaning up the car after my fiasco, I scrubbed the skin off my hands trying to get everything mud-free and ran the well dry.
To earn this badge, you must NOT to be able to sing. It is a noble ambition to have our girls learn to sing, and, whenever possible, to do so by listening to someone sing the song. Some volunteers can read music easily and have an excellent memory for words.
But others (you know who you are) can’t sing a note. Or more accurately, they can sing one note. They all come out the same. When they sing “Make New Friends” it sounds like a Gregorian chant. This badge is awarded to all who have suffered the frustrations and woeful eyes of girls who want so badly to learn and enjoy but can’t make heads or tails of the melody, at least not the way their leader sings it.
Any Girl Scout leader who wasn’t born a scrounger and saver must develop into one or perish.
There are three requirements for earning this badge.
Save one dozen items, such as two-pound coffee cans, to be used “at a later date” for “something.”
Save one dozen items for at least a year, such as empty baby cereal boxes with spouts (there must be some use for spouts?), which collect dust, dirt, and despair.
Scrounge ten different items from ten different sources, whether they be No. 10 cans from a restaurant (we all know what those are used for) or cuttings from the local greenhouse.
Needless to say, all of these tasks must be accomplished with minimum expenditure, if not free.
Personally, I live with the giant jar of yellow pony beads that has been passed through my Service Unit for 25+ years. The SU was merged out of existence several years ago, but the beads remain. Alas. They do make a good door stop.
The Black Day badge consists of two parts.
First: There are certain conditions that must be present before the other requirement may be completed: it has to have rained solidly at least three days; you have to have a cold, or think you have a cold; you must at least have a headache, a toothache, or a husband on a diet.
Second: Face one of the listed experience or a similar calamity.
When the young ladies duly burst into troop meeting, they are like uncaged tigresses, deaf to ideas and entreaties, unable to sing or play games or otherwise vent their energies without producing chaos. The leader must be poised, gracious, in full command of the situation, smiling and bright.
The second requirement is to have chaos at home develop at the moment you leave for a meeting: a younger child has just come down with scarlet fever, measles, or such; the stove has blown up or the bathroom overflowed; your husband is bringing home three guests for dinner. Again, you must appear at meetings, poised, gracious, and with three of the craft supply boxes living in your basement.
Surely these coveted recognitions will be wonderful additions to your new, official leader vest!
Our three scrapbooks represent three different US troops and document their activities for about two years. There is some repetition and duplication due to multiple newspapers covering the same event.
What kind of events? The girls living in Okinawa did the same Girl Scout activities as US-based troops. They wore the same uniforms, recited the same Girl Scout Promise, and earned the same badges.
That was the purpose of having Girl Scout troops for families living abroad. Parents knew that their daughters would find a warm welcome and many new friends when they attended their first troop meeting.
Local residents from the Girl Scouts of Japan were often invited to troop meetings to share in the fun.
Twist Me and Turn Me
Courts of Award
In addition to regular Girl Scout badges, the American troops on Okinawa created their own badge for learning about Okinawa. The design was apparently used for patches as well. (I’ve also seen a Okinawa troop crest with the red Shinto gate symbol.)
That tradition has carried into modern day, with USAGSO offering badges on Okinawa’s culture and sea life. These can be ordered online.
With the re-launch of Girl Scout Mariner and Trailblazer troops planned for 2020, it is a good time to revisit the original programs.
Senior Girl Scouts did not have their own proficiency badges until Interest Projects were introduced in 1980.
Instead, Senior troops concentrated on specific topics, with a particular emphasis on practical training for service roles. Girls earned small service bar pins, with the color indicating the focus.
Starting in 1955, troops and patrols could choose from five concentrations: Trailblazer, Mountaineer, Explorer, Wing, and Mounted. A “General Interest” path was added in 1958. Seniors wore a 3″ green bordered patch to indicate their focus.
The Mariner program, which launched in 1934, remained separate. The Wing program, dating to 1942, was not as popular as the Mariners and flew into the new framework as one of the five.
Personally, I think if the Wing groups had distinct, spiffy uniforms like the Mariners, they would have been more visible and likely more popular.
Based on girl feedback, the Senior program was tweaked in 1960. New interests were added, unpopular ones dropped, and patches slimmed down to 2.25″. Now Mariners were grouped with everyone else although their patch remained blue.
The biggest change came in 1963, when more paths were introduced, such as Community Action, Homemaker, and Arts.
Each focus now had a specific color that was used on the border of the emblem, but also on the tie and hat cord of the uniform.
But unlike the badges earned at younger levels, there was no earned insignia specific to this program. Instead, the large patches were simply an oversized troop crest.
A new set of four interest patches was introduced in 1974 along with a new Senior Handbook, Options.
The book marked the peak of Girl Scout efforts to be mod, hip, and crunchy granola. It practically came with a choker made of love beads and puka shells. Girls regarded the suggested activities, such as “Mysterious Musical Mood” and “Reading for Pleasure and Profit” as childish and condescending.
Finally, take a close look at the design of these patches. See the gold starburst design in the background? That was taken from the earlier special Senior membership pin.
Many troops simply kept using their trusty 1963 handbook and related interest patches.
In 1980, Options was officially declared dead. Few noticed.
An entirely new set of earned recognitions for Cadettes and Seniors (Ambassadors date only to 2008) came with the Worlds to Explore program. The program retained the “interest project” name, although the name changed several times: Interest Project Award, Interest Project Patch, and Interest Project.
The new program also launched a new highest award for Girl Scouts, the Gold Award.
Now, dear readers, take a good look at the images above. Did you ever notice the sunburst design carried through to the current Gold Award design?
Thank you to members of the Facebook Girl Scout historian community for sharing their experiences with these programs.
Troop Crests are some of the oldest official insignia. Originally, each patrol (sub-group) within a troop had a different crest. The first troop in Savannah, for example, had White Rose, Carnation, Red Rose, and Poppy patrols. Over time, crests began to encompass the entire troop.
Early troops were identified by their crest, not troop number, as in this Washington Post article from 1914.
Similarly, members of this troop were the “Surrey Poppies.”
In May 1913, Juliette Gordon Low brought a selection of English Girl Guide crests for the earliest American troops to use. The English crests were circles of black felt, embroidered with bright colors and a red border.
The Girl Scouts adopted many of the English crests in 1920. They soon realized that the Blackbird crest was almost invisible when embroidered on black felt. The girls decided to use blue thread instead and renamed it “Bluebird” in 1922.
Traditionally, once girls chose a crest, it was used for the lifetime of the troop.
But there are exceptions to every rule. Estelle Kelso, owner of this uniform, was either in a troop that picked a new crest each year or perhaps she changed troops.
Contrary to popular belief, meanings have only been ascribed to crests in recent years. The early crests were all flowers, trees, waterfalls, stars and other non-floral designs came later. Between 1923 and 1930, troops were encouraged to
choose the names of famous women, either from real life or literature, and “build up troop traditions around them. … select women “who have done conspicuous service or pioneer work in professional and scientific fields, or who were associated with our early American life, either in the colonies or in the Westward moving border lands.”
–Blue Book of Rules
From 1918 to 2011, troops could also design their own crests. They chose images that reflect their interests or perhaps a local landmark or significant culture. The meanings of many, however, are known only to the girls.
Whatever the design, fabric, or official status, crests can always be identified by shape. Crests are oval, all badges are (or were) round. That’s a difference that is easily overlooked by even the best historians. The rare fuchsia crest at right was mis-identified online by the Georgia Historical Society.
Designs have come and gone over the years. In 2011 the oval shape was replaced by a shield shape. Yet some designs have remained nearly unchained for over 100 years.
The Saturday, November 16, 2019 event was truly one for the record books.
9,000 girls explored the Dulles Expo Center in three-hour blocks. There was singing, archery, tent-pitching relays, robotics, book signings, and, of course, history.
The Archives and History Committee ran a booth with history-themed games. Linda Paulson taught girls how to play “Name that Cookie,” answer council history questions, and match new badges with their vintage counterparts. Girls received a “vintage” patch prize from our surplus. Most were excited to realize that the patch was older than the girl!
The booth also had a collection of Girl Scout dolls and
displays about founder Juliette Gordon Low. Our own Susan “Daisy” Ducey posed
for photos with girls all day.
But the Council History team didn’t settle for just one
little old booth. No, not us! We also provided international uniforms on
mannequins for another booth.
We proudly watched Archives Program Aide Vivian moderate a presentation.
We welcomed our own special guest, Margaret Seiler, who told
stories about her Great Aunt Daisy. Her presentation helped younger Girl Scouts
understand that Juliette Gordon Low was a real person, not just a character in
Last, but hardly least, we organized three vintage uniform fashion shows, one show per session. Ginger Holinka fitted girl (and a few adult) models on the spot, while Julie Lineberry emceed the show. Members of the audience gave special applause for “their” childhood uniforms and came away understanding how uniforms changed in response to fashion trends, war-time shortages, new fabrics, and the need for girls to move, move, move.
The Committee owes a deep debt to Lisa Jackson and Dena McGuiggan Baez, leaders who found replacement uniform models when others dropped out at the last minute. They saved the show!!
The last Council Expo was held in 2006. Many people have asked why it took so long to organize another. After Saturday’s experience, I know I will need at least 13 years to recover. But maybe I’ll pencil another one in on my calendar, just to save the date.
Where were you when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon? You’ve probably been asked that question and heard many answers today, as we mark the 50th anniversary of that event.
Out of the blue, I received the following memory today from Lisa Wilson:
In the summer of 1969 my best friend, Jane Conable, and I were 12 year old campers at May Flather. It was our first time sleeping in a platform tent, eating (and cleaning up!!) in a mess hall, and searching for snakes along wooded trails. It was also our first and only time getting woken up in the middle of the night to sit around the campfire circle gazing into the cool blue light of a black & white TV set that had been connected to an outlet via a long, LONG extension cord so that us privileged “older” campers could watch the moon landing live. We had to watch in total silence so as not to wake the younger campers and that spectacular silence still rings in my ears today whenever I think about Apollo 11. The juxtaposition of nature and technology was breath taking.
The first Star Gazer badge was introduced in 1920. Since then, astronomy and space science badges have been created for nearly every age level.
This week Girl Scouts of the USA announced the introduction of 42 new badges and one program journey. With topics ranging from cybersecurity and coding to astronomy and high adventure, there are new options for every age level.
But the press release overlooked another major development:
Do you see it? Down at the bottom?
YES!!!!! The day has finally come.
On October 8, 2014, on the eve of the Girl Scout National Convention, I published a blog post, “Let’s Make Downloading Badges Legal.”
I argued in favor of creating official downloadable PDF files for journey program books and individual badge requirements. Specifically:
Let’s be honest and fair and admit that distributing bootleg scans of journey books and badge requirements constitutes theft. It is taking a person’s hard work without paying for it. Go ahead, argue “sharing” and “sisterhood” all you want, but if thieves share stolen goods among themselves, it does not make the theft acceptable. Would you walk into a Girl Scout shop, pocket a handful of badges, and walk out without paying? This is no different.
Let’s resolve to respect authority, including copyright law. The bootleggers know they are breaking the law, which explains why they try to shout down anyone who calls them out with nasty comments and name calling. Do we really have to put labels on every page, photo, design, etc. saying “Not yours. Don’t steal”?
Demand for downloads was obviously high, and I reasoned that many volunteers would come out of hiding and purchase legal copies if given the opportunity.
I also explained why this issue is important to me:
As a writer and editor, words are literally my income. I know that every book has an author, and I know that writing is hard work. Authors deserve to be paid. That is why it really bothers me to see leaders sharing photocopies of badge inserts or websites advertising free downloads of scanned journey books. (While I don’t get paid to write this blog, it is an opportunity for potential clients to get to know me better.)
Finally, I argued that GSUSA might use PDF fees to recoup some of the lost potential income from leaders who use photocopies instead of purchasing official materials.
I even created a Facebook page called “Girl Scout Publication PDFs Please.” To date over 1,100 people have “liked” the page.
This is just a small step in the ongoing quest for GSUSA to listen to its adult volunteers, and this is merely one step in a long journey.
As this week commemorates the Apollo 11 moon landing, I can’t resist:
PDF Badges: That’s one small step for Ann, one giant leap for Girl Scouts.