Is it just me, or does the CBS Sunday Morning logo look like the Girl Scout Gold Award?
CBS Sunday Morning first aired in 1979, one year before the Girl Scout Gold Award was introduced.
However, the Girl Scout sunburst design traces to a Senior membership pin introduced in 1938. At the time, high school girls often did not want classmates to know they were Girl Scouts (hard to believe, right?). This special pin was designed to look like a sorority pin, which presumably was more acceptable.
The Senior interest program introduced in 1953 continued starburst design as a unifying background for the assorted interest-specific programs.
Counting down to the 110th birth of the Girl Scouts of the USA on March 12, 2022.
Four Memorable Moments from Girl Scout history in the 1990s. How many do you remember?
Bronze Award Created
When the Gold and Silver Awards were introduced in 1980s, Junior Girl Scouts asked “What about us?”
Daisy Pin Redesigned
The original Daisy membership pin was redesigned in 1993 to incorporate a trefoil shape.
Cookie Pins Introduced
If cookie patches and cookie badges weren’t sufficient recognition for the venerable product sale, Girl Scouts of all ages could earn a cookie pin. The program ran from 1998 through 2019, when the current Cookie Entrepreneur program launched. So far the Entrepreneur pins seem to be durable. The first cookie pins were plastic and may have come from a gum ball machine. GSUSA soon switched to metal cookie pins, these were also cheap. One good sneeze and they all broke apart.
New National Headquarters
GSUSA’s Manhattan headquarters relocated from 830 Third Avenue to 420 Fifth Avenue in 1992.
Next up, Girl Scout history from the 1980s. Five Great Moments from Girl Scout history in the 1980s. How many do you remember?
Daisy Program Introduced
Starting in 1984, kindergarten-age girls could become Daisy Girl Scouts. Daisies wore simple blue smocks. They did not sell cookies and did not have earned recognitions. Daisy petals were introduced in 2002, petals in 2011.
Brownie Try-Its Introduced
Before 1986, the only recognitions for Brownies were patches for well-rounded troop years. Fifteen Try-Its were offered the first year, with more to follow. The triangle-shaped Try-Its were designed to be non-competitive and encouraged trying new things. Girls had to complete four of six requirements to earn the recognition.
Cookie Sales Turn 50
In 1984 Little Brownie Bakers marked the 50th anniversary of commercial cookie sales with a new cookie: Medallions.
Thirty-three years later, in 2017, Girl Scouts celebrated 100 years of cookie sales.
50 + 33 = 83?
Maybe the Math Whiz badge needs to return.
Teen Uniforms Take Preppy Turn
New uniforms for Cadettes and Seniors (no Ambassadors until 2008) were introduced in 1980. For the first time, both levels shared the same skirt, pants, vest, and sash. They were distinguished by plaid blouses. The Cadette plaid was predominantly green, the Seniors blue. Catalogs described the green pieces as “apple green,” but it was more like Girl Scout guacamole.
I Earned the Gold Award
The Gold Award was introduced in 1980 as the highest award available to Girl Scouts. I volunteered at my local council office, and they handed me the guidelines. Staff said, “We know you’re going to earn it. We’re also going to send every question about the process to you.”
I earned my Gold Award in 1983. Today, I am still mentoring future golden girls as a member of my council’s Gold Award Panel.
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.
Like most Americans, Ellie Alloway will pause tomorrow to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
But tonight, September 10, Ellie will make an unprecedented contribution to the history of 9/11.
Tonight is the premiere of Ellie’s documentary, “Ripples: 9/11 Reflections from the North Fork, NY.” The film draws from more than 100 interviews that she conducted with survivors over the past two years.
The 9/11 documentary began as her Gold Award project, earning her the highest award available to Girl Scouts. Then it grew and grew. She hopes that one day schools might use her film when teaching about the events of 9/11.
Meet Ellie Alloway: one of the Girls the World Needs.
For more about Ellie and her project, follow these selected links:
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.
Let’s Focus on This
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.
More Paths to Pursue
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.
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.
But that disappointment was short-lived. Shortly after the elusive eBay auction ended, a new donation arrived in the mail. The enclosed letter from a local estate attorney explained that her client, Betty Chapman, had left behind a scrapbook that she had compiled as a Washington, DC, Girl Scout in the late 1920s. As Chapman had no immediate family, the attorney thought we might like it.
The package contained a three-ring school notebook, with newspaper clippings and other papers pasted on lined notebook paper.
The first clipping, on the first page, I immediately recognized:
This round-faced girl, with the slightly mischevous grin, is Elizabeth Kahler, one of Washington’s first Golden Eaglets. She appears in many of our early photos, including this one of the 1927 White House Easter Egg Roll.
Elizabeth has the same photo in her scrapbook, along with an autograph from the first lady. You can still see the creases from Elizabeth putting it in her uniform pocket for safekeeping.
The book is stuffed with more clippings, invitations, letters, and badge records.
But perhaps the biggest find is nine issues of the Girl Scout Bugle — a publication that I did not even know existed!
These four-page publications from 1927 and 1928 were part of a journalism training program. The first issue explains its purpose. I don’t know how long the program continued.
Stuffed in the envelope with the Girl Scout materials are other mementos of Elizabeth’s life, such as the programs from her college graduation. She attended the George Washington University, earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees before graduating from medical school, with distinction, in 1940.
Elizabeth married fellow physician Ervin Chapman and maintained a medical practice in Washington, DC. She passed away in 2007.
I guess those Red Cross courses made a significant impression on Miss Kahler.
While that news was not entirely a surprise, I have been shocked by much of the media coverage. In newspapers, on television, and across the internet, I’ve seen the same question, “Why would girls want to join the Boy Scouts?” The immediate answer is almost always “so they can earn the Eagle Scout,” followed by a long ode to its amazingness.
Over and over, reporters insist that the Girl Scouts have no equivalent award. I have grown hoarse screaming at the television, GOLD AWARD, GOLD AWARD, GOLD AWARD.
Despite celebrating the centennial of the highest awards last year, public awareness still is lacking. We know the reasons, such as the penchant for renaming the highest award every 10 years or so.
But inspired by our founder and her playful spirit, I hereby pledge to change how I speak about the Gold Award. For too long, I’ve described it as “Eagle Scout for girls.” No more.
JGL was known for standing on her head, an unexpected move that livened up any dull meeting. So I am going to do a 180-turn in how I approach these prestigious awards. The Gold Award should exist on its own, it should not need to be defined in relation to another award. It is not a feminized version of a male award. It’s not an Eagle in a dress.
From now on, I will describe Eagle Scout as the “Gold Award for boys.”