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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.