GSUSA recently announced the new Girls’ Choice outdoor-themed badges that will be available this fall. They are: Outdoor Adventure (Brownie), Horseback Riding (Junior), Archery (Cadette), Paddling (Senior), and Ultimate Recreation Challenge (Ambassador).
The results made me wonder what were the most popular badges of the past?
I used the sales figures reported in the 2005 edition of the Girl Scout Collector’s Guide by Mary Degenhardt and Judith Kirsch to find out. (I assume those numbers only go to 2004, and the book has not been updated.) The results are grouped into the Worlds to Explore Era (1980-1999) and post-Worlds to Explore, when the border colors changed but most of the designs did not.
As I’ve previously written, for Cadettes between 1963 and 1980, the clear winner was Social Dancer. Juniors in the same period, went for Troop Camper followed closely by Cook.
Brownie Try-Its were introduced in 1986 with 15 awards. They program was a huge hit, so additional Try-Its were added in 1989, 1993, and 1997. That makes it hard to compare overall totals, since some were available for more years than others. (Some names changed along the way, too.)
The top five Try-Its of the Worlds to Explore era.
The top five were Girl Scout Ways (5.8 million), Playing Around the World (4.2 million), Food Fun/Make It, Eat It (3.8 million), Making Music (3.6 million), and Dance/Dancercize (3.6 million). The top outdoor-themed Try-It ranked seventh: Outdoor Fun/Eco-Explorer, with 3.2 million.
The Worlds to Explore program, introduced in 1980, divided badges into five categories. Badges for each category had a specific border color: Arts (purple), Out-of-Doors (yellow), People (blue), Today and Tomorrow (orange), and Well-Being (red). Four of the top five Junior badges were from the World of the Out-of-Doors:
The all-time favorite of Juniors in the 1980s and 1990s was First Aid, with nearly 3 million sold. Followed close behind were Troop Camper (2.9 million; the design changed in 1990); Horse Lover (1.8 million), Swimming (1.4 million), and Wildlife (1.4 million).
The top five Junior badges from the Worlds to Explore era.
Cadettes & Seniors: 1980-2004
Cadettes and Seniors were a remarkably consistent group, with nearly identical results in both time periods.
The most popular Interest Projects from 1980-1996 (top) and 1997-2005 (bottom).
Under Worlds to Explore (1980-1996), teens chose Fashion, Fitness, and Makeup (301,391; it had a purple border its first year), Creative Cooking (262,163), Camping (204,851), Games (167,056), and Child Care (160,052).
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the favorites were Cookies and Dough (153,989), Creative Cooking (111,638), From Fitness to Fashion (97,469), Camping (93,923), and Child Care (86,509).
Juniors of the early twenty-first century were evidently a patriotic group, interested in good grooming, and still happy to go camping.
Popular Junior badges, 2001-2004.
Top selling Junior badges were Cookie Connection (290,165), Looking Your Best (198,647), Girl Scouting in the USA (197,634), United We Stand (186,761), and Camp Together (171,069). Past favorites remained popular, including First Aid (6th), Horse Fan (11th), Outdoor Fun (12th), and Outdoor Cook (13th).
I was surprised at how popular United We Stand was. It was part of the trio of badges, including Wave the Flag for Brownies and American Patriotism for Cadettes and Seniors, issued following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. These three were not included in the handbooks; leaders had to download the requirements themselves.
Brownies at the turn of the century also stuck with some favorite topics, including Cookies Count (1.6 million), Girl Scout Ways (1.55 million), Manners (1.2 million), Art to Wear (1.17 million), and Caring and Sharing (1.08 million)..
Top Brownie Try-Its, 1999-2004.
Cookie-themed awarded topped all three post-Worlds to Explore badge categories.
Top of the Charts
Drumroll, please, the most popular Girl Scout badges between 1963 and 2004 were:
The most popular badges between 1963 and 2004.