RIP Studio 2B

Four girls ice skate around the words become, belong, believe, and build and I Love the Studio 2B Girl Scout program
Um, no. Nobody loved Studio 2B. That’s probably why I got this patch for a quarter.

I promised to write about the Girl Scout STUDIO 2B program, so here goes …

STUDIO 2B debuted at the 2002 Girl Scouts of the USA 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.”

Faces of 10 teen girls on cover of The Ten Emerging Truths report

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.

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 (not two, as you’d expect) “B” program goals:

Become: Celebrate yourself today and become your best self in the future.

Belong: Be part of a group where you have fun, relate to others with respect, and develop lasting friendships.

Believe: Develop your ideas and voice what’s important to you.

Build: Take action on what you care about and make a difference.

Instead of leaders, girls had advisors, preferably between the ages of 18 and 29 because these women 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.”

Covers of Making Waves and Cashing In Studio 2B Focus Books.
Two Studio 2B Focus Books.

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.

silver bracelet with charms shaped like diary, pennant, megaphone, shooting star, and more
Who needs vests and badges when you have charms?

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:

frequently asked questions about the Girl Scout Studio 2B program
Excerpt from Summer 2003 Leader magazine.

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.

Six Girl Scout Studio 2B charms with globe, purse, briefcase, and megaphone designs.
These charms, required for the Silver and Gold Awards, never came in more affordable patch versions.

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.

There is a famous quote that when Juliette Gordon Low was once asked what should the girls do, she responded, “What do the girls want to do?” Apparently, the girls didn’t want to do STUDIO 2B.

©2015 Ann Robertson. All opinions expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of GSCNC.

Who’s That Girl Scout? Eleanor Putzki

You’ve seen her photo, but how much do you know about Eleanor Putzki?

Eleanor Putzki, the "Best Girl Scout in America."
Eleanor Putzki, the “Best Girl Scout in America,” wears the Golden Eagle of Merit, pinned just below her Sunflower Patrol crest. She is standing at the White House gate, after receiving her award from First Lady Edith Wilson (Harris and Ewing Collection, Library of Congress.)

Eleanor Putzki was an original member of Washington, DC, Troop 1.  Formed in late 1913, the troop met at Wilson Normal school and was led by Mrs. Giles Scott Rafter, a leader in the PTA movement and vigorous advocate of education for girls and statehood for the District of Columbia.

Eleanor was an outstanding Girl Scout, whose accomplishments were regularly mentioned in newspaper reports about the young movement. At the October 9, 1915, all-troop hike, for example, Eleanor was praised for correctly identifying 25 varieties of wildflowers. She received her Red Cross badge from none other than Juliette Gordon Low herself in January 1916. In May 1916 she was asked to “display her assortment of proficiency badges and explain what they meant” for other troops.

She had to impress an unusually well qualified board of examiners to receive those badges.  She was quizzed by Professor Wells Cook of the US Department of Agriculture and experts at the Smithsonian Institution  and Department of the Interior. Her nursing exam was administered by the head of the Visiting Nurse Association, while Fred Reed, the first Eagle Scout in Washington, assessed her mastery of the material for her pathfinder and pioneer badges.

Eleanor was awarded the Golden Eagle of Merit from Mrs. Woodrow Wilson at a ceremony at the White House on June 21, 1917.  She was the first Washingtonian to receive the award and the fifth nationwide.  The award was the highest available from 1916 to 1919 and required earning 14 proficiency badges; Eleanor earned 25.  Fewer than 50 Golden Eagles of Merit were presented before the honor was revised and renamed the Golden Eaglet.

Eleanor was named “Best Girl Scout in America” in 1918 and explained her enthusiasm for Girl Scouting to Literary Digest:

Why, no one will ever know what the Girl Scout work has done for me. Only three months ago, when I started after my badge for pathfinder, I scarcely knew the difference between northwest and southeast Washington. To win that badge I had to know all the public buildings, schools, streets, and avenues, monuments, parks, circles, playgrounds and, in fact, be qualified as a guide. Going after Girl Scout badges just woke me up. It makes you see things, and see why and to want to do things better and to help others.

At the age of 17, Eleanor was given her own troop at Webster School.  The troop grew from seven girls to 34 in just three weeks; and after two weeks’ training 18 of of the girls were rated proficient in first aid and wigwagging (semaphore).

She had ambitious plans for her troop:

Outdoor life is the best thing in the world for girls and I want to encourage every other girl all I can to get out in the open with ears open and eyes open and with lungs open. That’s why I’m going to make my troop of girls the best in the city. I’m going to have every one of them a first-class scout before I’m through.

Born on August 5, 1899, Eleanor was the daughter of Kate Stirling Putzki and the artist Paul Putzki, best known for his china paintings. Eleanor married Freeman Pulsifer Davis and moved to Indianapolis. I’ve located little information about her life in Indiana, aside from a handful of clipping that suggest she was an avid golfer.  I hope she remained an avid Girl Scout, as well.