Who Is Sylvia Acevedo?

Today, Sylvia Acevedo was named interim CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, following the resignation of Anna Maria Chávez. She is the CEO of  CommuniCard LLC, which “provides solutions in education and healthcare for America’s rising generation.” She also is the secretary of the GSUSA Board of Directors and a real, live rocket scientist.

Sylvia_Acevedo

Sylvia Acevedo, acting CEO of GSUSA

I had the pleasure of hearing Acevedo speak at the 2014 Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City. She gave a moving presentation where she talked about how her childhood Girl Scout leader had gone above and beyond the call of duty by tutoring Sylvia’s mother in English so that she could pass her US citizenship exam.

Her biography included with the Annual Meeting packet describes her as:

a lifelong Girl Scout. Earning her science badge as a Girl Scout Junior inspired her to become a rocket scientist. Learning to sell cookies sparked her dream of being an entrepreneur. Elected to the Girl Scouts of the USA’s National Board in 2008, Sylvia was the Girl Scout Gold Award keynote speaker in 2012 for the Girl Scout councils of Texas.

Girl Scouts of Central Texas named her a Woman of Distinction in 2013 and profiled her. The profile also mentions her partner, Dr. Janet Osimo, and their two rescue dogs.

 

32030l

Look, this patch has a rocket on it!

I can’t wait to see what exciting changes will come with new leadership at GSUSA!

©2016 Ann Robertson

The views reflected here are personal and do not represent the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. 

Skills Needed: Girl Scout Badges Could Help

A new book claims that today’s college freshman lack basic life skills. This is a gap that Girl Scouts should address.

New book by former Stanford Dean of Freshmen Julie Lythcott-Haims

New book by former Stanford Dean of Freshmen Julie Lythcott-Haims

In How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshman at Stanford University, claims that incoming students had impressive resumes, but were increasingly incapable of taking care of themselves. To remedy this problem, she says that, especially with teenagers, we should “seek out opportunities to put independence in their way,” such as making them responsible for their own food or learning to take public transportation.

She’s not alone in this belief. Many colleges have “College 101” courses to teach some of the basics. US News & World Report suggests that college freshmen need Seven Essential Life Skills.

With college looming, my troop of Seniors and Ambassadors has been focusing on basic life skills. We haven’t found much help from the current badge offerings, especially given the slim pickings for Ambassadors. Let’s see how well current badges satisfy the US News Seven Skills:

Dinner Party

Dinner Party

(1) Cooking:  While learning to host a Dinner Party is a great idea, we’ve taken a more basic approach to cooking. We did one meeting on things you can microwave in a mug, like scrambled eggs (and a Nutella cake that will get you through almost any crisis). Another session is how to boost a packet of ramen noodles into actual food.

On My Own

On My Own

(2) Managing money and (3) Apartment hunting: We did On My Own, which was pretty good, although I wish the actual badge wasn’t screen printed. To teach budgeting and how to manage a checkbook, I turned to Teachers Pay Teachers. This is a great website where teachers upload materials they have developed for various age levels. For about $5 I downloaded a PDF packet with blank checks to cut out, registers to fill out, and more.

(4) Getting around town: This includes both auto care (which the Senior Car Care badge somewhat covers), but also public transportation, especially since many colleges do not allow freshmen to bring cars. Perhaps we should bring back the old Transportation badge from the 1940s?

Take Charge (photo by Annelies Squieri)

Take Charge (photo by Annelies Squieri)

(5) Staying safe and healthy: We did the old Studio 2B Take Charge badge, since there is no self-defense badge today. That was a controversial badge in its day, but girls need some blunt talk about domestic violence and rape with a trusted adult. It was surprising how many knew girls who had already been victims.

(6) Studying: I miss the old Reading badges that encouraged girls to read for fun and create troop book clubs.  To fill that gap, I’ve created my own patch programs based on the Hunger Games series and the Princess Diaries. They are fun ways to make stories come alive, learn related skills, and explore unexpected career paths.

(7) Planning: Any girl who has completed a Silver or Gold Award knows the importance of planning, but the current program is not adequately preparing them. I’ve been on my council’s Gold Award Panel for some eight years and have seen hundreds of girls who think adequate planning is a four-slide PowerPoint. With rare exception, project management is a skill that we have to teach girls as we mentor them, not one they’ve acquired in their troop.

I’ll add a few other skills:

Laundry Symbols Explained (http://visual.ly/laundry-symbols-explained)

Laundry Symbols Explained (http://visual.ly/laundry-symbols-explained)

  • Laundry: We don’t need to resurrect the old Laundress badge, but how about teaching girls (and their leaders) what all those mystery symbols on care tags mean?
  • Sewing: Perhaps GSUSA thinks we don’t need to know how to sew any more, since insignia are now all iron-in, but every now and then you have to sew on a button or fix a hem.
  • Swimming: Yes, swimming. There’s no Girl Scout badge for swimming any more.  But to graduate, every Columbia University student has to be able to swim the length of the pool.

So there are my suggestions. Some of these skills are covered at earlier Girl Scout levels, but Ambassadors at least need a good review.

But of course, that would mean revamping the flimsy Ambassador program.

©2015 Ann Robertson

Rocking Rededication

multi-year_rededicationFall is an exciting time for Girl Scouts, as new girls join, new troops form, and returning members recommit themselves to the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Each is marked by a special ceremony, either an Investiture or a Rededication.

Both are beautiful rituals that have been performed since the earliest troops met.

But too often, once the ceremony ends, mothers rush over to the leaders and immediately begin arguing. The issue? The dreaded Rededication Rocker – the iron-on patch reading “First Year,” “Second, Year,” etc.

“Susie’s been in your troop three years, but you gave her a Second Year rocker. Can’t you get your paperwork right?”

And so it begins.

Let’s set the record straight about Rededication Rockers.

Rededication Rockers first appeared in the 1999 patch catalog.

Rededication Rockers first appeared in the 1999 patch catalog.

First, Rededication Patches and Rockers are not official insignia, like the Girl Scout pin, Council ID Strip, or even the troop numerals. They fall into the same category as cookie patches and event participation patches and go on the back of the uniform sash or vest.

Look at the girls in the latest Girl Scout Catalog. Are any of them wearing Rededication patches? Do you even see Rededication patches listed for sale? No. With the exception of the 2004 catalog, Rededication patches have not been included; they have been offered in separate “Fun Patch” catalogs.

When Daisies expanded to Kindergarten, new 11th and 12th year rockers were added to the 2004 catalog.

When Daisies expanded to Kindergarten, new 11th and 12th year rockers were added to the 2004 catalog.

Second, Rededication Patches and Rockers are optional. The uniform police aren’t going to come after you if your troop decides to skip them. And even if you do pass them out, Ambassadors really don’t need a huge row going back to their birth. Personally, I don’t think it’s a wise use of resources; a dozen rockers take up a lot of acreage on a teen vest, and at $1.75 each, I don’t think a troop should spend funds on patches “earned” six or seven years ago. If it’s that important, parents can buy the whole series.

A new design was introduced in 2006.

A new design was introduced in 2006.

Third, because they are not official insignia, Rededication Patches and Rockers do not have requirements to earn them. If a girl commits to another of Girl Scouts by reregistering, that’s sufficient for me. If she can’t make the rededication meeting, but comes later and asks, I’ll give her one. I’m just happy to have her back for another year.

Fourth, Rededication Years are one less than membership years. This is my biggest complaint about Rededication Rockers, the annual debate over what year a girl should receive. When you join Girl Scouts, you are invested; when you re-up for another year, you rededicate. Your second year as a Girl Scout is the first time you have a Rededication Ceremony; therefore, it is year one.

Really.  Yes, it is.

OK, let’s try it this way. If you believe that a returning first grader would receive a Year Two Rededication Rocker, then when she hits 12th grade she should receive a Year 13 Rocker, right?

Wrong!! There is no Year 13 Rocker. Now do you believe me?

Arrrrrgggggghhhhhh.

There is way too much drama about who gets what scrap of fabric at a Rededication Ceremony. Let’s keep the attention on the real meaning of Rededication. She came back!!!! Isn’t that enough reason to celebrate?

©2015 Ann Robertson

Girl Scouts and the American Bicentennial

Girl Scouts and the American Bicentennial

Happy Independence Day from the Girl Scout History Project!

Back in 1976, the United States was giddy celebrating the 200th birthday of the Declaration of Independence.

The Girl Scouts joined in, of course, issuing two national patches that could be worn on the uniform.

Proposed designs for a third patch highlighting “Horizons 76” appeared on the cover of the March 1975 Leader magazine. Each troop could vote for one. “Horizons 76” was a national program encouraging local service projects. A book containing descriptions of these projects was presented to First Lady Betty Ford at the national convention in Washington, DC, in 1975.

Individual councils also marked the American Bicentennial, with patriotic themed patches for local events and cookie sales.

Bicentennial-themed patches from various councils.

Bicentennial-themed patches from various councils.

One of the largest programs came from the Connecticut Trails Girl Scout Council: “If I Were a Girl Scout in 1776.” The program handbook was divided into two sections. The first two parts, “Home and Family” and “The Nation in 1776,” each had six badges that encouraged girls to delve into the history of their families, communities, and country.

Some of the badges available.

Selection of program badges. Top row, l-r: My Flag, George Washington, The State House Bell, My Heritage; Bottom row: My House and Yard, My Country, Toys and Games, My Colony (hand drawn on blank).

The third section contained instructions for making “the 1776 Girl Scout uniform,” which included a gown or dress, an apron, a fichu (scarf), mob cap, and shoes.

My bicentennial dress from 4th grade.

My bicentennial dress from 4th grade.

I was a Junior during the Bicentennial and really wish I’d known about this program. I would have earned all of the badges!

Happy Fourth of July!

Lion Brothers: Behind the Badge

Quick question: Which of these GSUSA ID strips was made in the USA?



Answer: the one on the right. The left strip, with the red, white, and blue shield, was made in China.

Girl Scout badges and fabric insignia have been manufactured by Lion Brothers of Baltimore, Maryland, since the 1920s. Lion Brothers also makes badges and embroidered logos for the Boys Scouts, various branches of the military, university and professional sports teams, and NASA.

Lion helped GSUSA transition from sewn-on insignia to iron-on products in 2003 and produces the Make Your Own badges.

patches, badges

Lion distributed these patches at the 2014 Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City.

Lion was founded in 1899 but nearly shut down two years ago. In 2013 the US Customs and Border Patrol Agency, one of Lion’s largest clients, changed its procurement rules from “Made in America” to “Made in America and by trading partners.” According to the Washington Post, that altered wording allowed the government to change manufacturers. Lion lost a huge chunk of its business. While Lion has its own factory in China, it is used for professional sports jerseys and university logo-wear, not the intricate designs of uniform badges.

Lion CEO Suzy Ganz laid off workers and stopped production lines. But rather than surrendering to the changed market, Ganz adapted. She received help from the Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center to revamp her US factories, turning them into high-tech “micro-facilities.” Then the Girl Scouts stepped in.

Lion Brothers CEO Suzy Ganz

Lion Brothers CEO Suzy Ganz

The Washington Post reports that the real turning point for Lion came when “the Girl Scouts agreed to bring all production in China back to the United States.” That vote of confidence helped Ganz secure additional funding and begin hiring again.

Senior Textile Arts badge

My teen troop has been working on their Textile Arts badge and we may tour Lion to learn about commercial embroidery.

I’ve heard many leaders complain about the redesigned ID strips, calling them a scheme to suck more funds out of our pockets. I don’t think that is a fair accusation.

Just because a newer version of our insignia has been issued does not mean that you have to immediately rip the old one off a vest and rush out to buy its replacement.

But if you are buying the new strip, perhaps for a newly bridged Brownie or Junior, keep in mind that you’re buying American again, helping a small, woman-run company survive and provide jobs here at home.

Badges, and Try-Its, and IPs, Oh My

When is a badge not a badge? When it’s a Try-It, an IP, IPA, or IPP.

Just_BadgesFor decades, a Girl Scout badge was just a badge, but starting in 1980, GSUSA got creative…and confusing.

While Girl Scouts have always earned badges, from 1980 to 2011 the term “badge” was reserved for just the Junior program.

With the roll-out of the Worlds to Explore program in 1980, Cadettes and Seniors now earned rectangular Interest Project Patches (IPPs). The 1979 Let’s Make It Happen handbook had already given a preview of the IP program with 22 available. The 1983 Supplement to Let’s Make it Happen added 10 more IPs, followed by another 29 in the 1987 book, Cadette and Senior Interest Projects.

Worlds to Explore divided activities into five “worlds.” Badges and Interest Projects had colored borders indicating to which world they belonged: Purple: Arts, Yellow: Out of Doors, Blue: People, Orange: Today and Tomorrow; Red: Well-Being

Dabbler Interest Projects: (l-r) Arts, Out-of-Doors, People, Today and Tomorrow, Well-Being

Dabbler Interest Projects: (l-r) Arts, Out-of-Doors, People, Today and Tomorrow, Well-Being

Food Raiser (1980-1991), Communication Arts (1980-1991), Photography (1990-2001), and Food, Fibers, and Farming (1990-2001).

Food Raiser (1980-1991), Communication Arts (1980-1991), Photography (1990-2001), and Food, Fibers, and Farming (1990-2001).

Seventy-six Junior badges in the Worlds format were introduced in the 1980 book, Girl Scout Badges and Signs. Aside from the much more colorful images and edges, many of the designs were familiar, little changed from the Junior badges introduced in 1963.  Some Junior badges had tan backgrounds; these were more “advanced” and could be earned by younger Cadettes. Nine group-oriented badges were included in the 1986 Junior Girl Scout Handbook; known as “handbook badges,” these had dark blue borders and white backgrounds.

Nine "handbook badges" introduced in 1986.

Nine “handbook badges” introduced in 1986.

Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors had the option to earn a “Dabbler” badge in each world that sampled activities from several awards in that category. These Dabbler badges/IPs featured the logo of each world. A Brownie preparing to bridge to Juniors could also work toward a Dabbler badge.

Try-Its, the first national program for Brownies, were introduced in 1986. Each Try-It had six activities; girls had to “try” at least four of them to earn the recognition. The program was an immediate hit and quickly grew beyond the original 15. The first Try-Its were part of the Worlds to Explore era and had colored borders, but they did not have Dabblers.

Space Explorer (1989-1999 orange; 1999-2011 brown) and Girl Scout Ways (1986-1998 blue; 1999-2011 brown).

Space Explorer (1989-1999 orange; 1999-2011 brown) and Girl Scout Ways (1986-1998 blue; 1999-2011 brown).

As the Worlds to Explore program phased out in the late 1990s, IPs became formally Interest Project Awards (IPAs) but the old abbreviation stuck. IPs switched to royal blue borders in the 1997 Interest Projects for Girls 11-17. Some old IPs were given new names or revised designs at the time, while 38 new IPs were added and the Dabblers dropped.

Juniors badges were also updated as the Worlds came to an end (that sounds rather dire, doesn’t it?). As inventory dwindled, badges were produced with dark green borders. Sometimes you can find Junior Dabbler badges with green borders:

"Transition" Junior Dabbler badges.

“Transition” Junior Dabbler badges.

Try-Its switched to brown borders in 1999.

In a moment of apparent insanity, GSUSA introduced a whole new program for Cadettes and Seniors in 2002. With Studio 2B, badges were out and girls earned charms for bracelets. That whole story will have to wait for another post.

Gold 4Bs Charm

Gold 4Bs Charm

With the new Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) format introduced in 2011, the “Interest Project” name was retired in favor of “badges.” New badge shapes were introduced for Cadettes (diamonds), Seniors (rectangles), and Ambassadors (clipped squares.) The “Try-It” name was also retired. Brownies still earned triangle-shaped recognitions, but now they are known as “badges.”

Badge_Shapes

The more things change, the more they stay the same.