Take The Lead

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The Journey Starts Here


Girl Scout Brownie Troop 10353 is going ELF!  This past year, the girls completed the Brownie Quest journey during which they Explored, Linked arms and Flew into action!  Girl Scout journeys allow troops at all age levels to receive all of the benefits of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience by taking the girls through the three keys of leadership: Discover, Connect and Take Action.
Troop leaders Samantha Sutter and Heather Dreier said the girls were able to gain valuable life skills from the Brownie Quest journey.  Through their experience, they learned “the significance of ELF and talked about Girl Scouts in a more global perspective, meaning the girls could appreciate how they are similar to Girl Scout Brownies around the world and are a part of something bigger.”
During their Brownie Quest, the girls learned about fun characters through a story that encouraged them to take action on an issue important to them and their community.  Each Girl Scout journey has a Take Action project so as a part of their experience, Troop 10353 decided to focus their attention on recycling.  The group of girls ran a public recycling campaign at their school to collect cans during the Halloween Spooktacular.  The girls took turns wearing sandwich boards that they created that talked about their project.  They stood near the trash and recycling containers throughout the event to educate, encourage and remind everyone to recycle.  The cans they collected were turned in and the troop will use the proceeds to support another Take Action project this coming year.
What was the best part of the Girl Scout journey?  The girls loved that they were able to earn recognitions as they completed each of the Discover, Connect and Take Action components.  From a leader perspective, Samantha also says that the leader guides are awesome, “They helped kick off the year with structured activities while the leaders were able to get a handle on what the troop wanted to do next.”  It also taught both the leaders and the girls about meeting structure.
If you have not started using the Girl Scout journeys with your troop, don’t waste any more time!  Samantha said, “I would especially encourage less experienced leaders to use the journeys and the leader guides to get to know their girls and guide them through meaningful meetings until they are more comfortable with planning meeting activities.  I would also remind them that they can make reasonable adjustments to the suggested activities to make it work for their particular troop.”  So start your journey now!  Where will it take your troop?

Leadership journeys are a very important part of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.  When thousands of girls across the country share a core national experience, they enjoy being part of something bigger than themselves, they have fun, and their voice gets louder and their influence gets stronger.  They can see for themselves what the world looks like when girls get together to make the world a better place and what it feels like when they make a difference in their world.  That’s what will happen across the country as more and more girls go on a Girl Scout journey!  

Below are some ideas about how to get started on a Girl Scout journey with your group.  Don’t forget to work with your girls to develop a plan that gets them excited about picking the right journey .
Let’s Get Started!
Host a kick-off to get the girls excited about their journey and keep Girl Scout families up-to-date about what their daughters are doing,
Let the girls look at the adult guide and the girl book.  Share the theme and what they will be talking and learning about.  Then let the girls work in small groups to make posters about what they are most excited about, what they already know about the subject or places they can visit to learn more.  Give them materials that they may not normally use to create posters and let them be as creative as they want.  Then hang these posters around the room during your kick off. 
Take this time at the kick off to get commitments from parents about how they will be able to help along the way.  Ask about special talents/skills or hobbies that they have that connect with the journey topic.  Getting parents involved from the beginning is key!  When they’ve helped out once, they are more likely to understand the work that you’re doing with the girls and may be more eager to help again in the future. 
Take It to Camp
You’ll quickly find that there are many ideas about enjoying the great outdoors tucked right into the girl books and adult guides in the It’s Your Planet–Love It! Journey.  After all, loving nature is generally the best motivator for protecting it!  So get the Girl Scout Daisies hiking and observing all that grows at camp, involve the Girl Scout Brownies in the water issues, offer Girl Scout Juniors an “off the grid” adventure, invite Girl Scout Cadettes to enjoy “a square inch” of silence as they Breathe, get the Girl Scout Seniors checking the soil and preparing a meal of locally grown food, and have the Girl Scout Ambassadors do the math as they consider the footprint on a weekend of camp. 
Jump Start Girl Scout Juniors and Girl Scout Cadettes
Challenge yourself to think of fun, creative ways for girls to participate in journeys.  Girls have more to do as they grow up, which means that it may be harder to involve older girls in journey activities.  To get them excited bring girls together for fun opportunities to dig into journey themes—and even to earn the journey leadership awards.  As you consider these examples, you are likely to think of many more ways to tie award earning into your journey kick-offs!
Camp-Out, Lock-In, Sleepover:  Engage Girl Scout Juniors in a “Survivor-like” adventure related to Get Moving! as they see how little energy they can use during the course of the weekend or an overnight.  Add some of the “energizing” snacks and activities featured in the girls’ journey books.  Top if all off with a chance to talk to an expert guest about interesting ways to save energy.  There you have it—the Junior Energize Award!
Wide Games:  Wide games are a wonderful Girl Scout tradition that encourages girls to explore several different activities.  Here’s an example of using this approach to run an event for Girl Scout Cadettes that culminates in their earning the “Interact” Leadership Award from the aMaze! Journey. 
  • Check out the Interact Challenges chart on pages 12–15 of the girl’s aMaze! book.  Note that the chart lists specific relationship challenges, the pages in the book that deal with the skill required for that challenge, and a blank space for girls to write down what they did.
  • Girls are asked to do three out of the nine challenges to earn their awards.  Set up activity stations for the challenges you think will be most interesting and viable for a “wide game” event plan.
  • As the event wraps up, it’s always great for girls to show what they have learned and why it matters to them by talking about it, writing it in a journal, drawing a mural and so on.
Make It Girl Led!
Let the girls take charge!  A great way to engage Girl Scout Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors in their experience is to let them plan their  meetings and activities.  Give your group a chance to look through all the journey books and select the theme they like best.  Then split them into small groups of three to four girls and assign each group a meeting.  The girls can take a look at the goal for that meeting and plan out how they want to achieve that goal.  They get to choose what activities, projects and field trips they want to do.  By doing this, the girls also get great experience leading! 


Journeys provide a platform to build activities tied to outcomes, instead of creating everything from scratch.  Use the packaged national curriculum, then customize based on the interests of the girls in your group and the resources available in your community.  The journey books are loaded with examples about how to do this.   If you’re still feeling stuck, here are some tips to get you started based on feedback from leaders just like you.   
The books are a map, you don’t have to follow them exactly!
Journeys are designed to be flexible to meet the needs of your group.  If you are a new leader or just unsure about how journeys work, feel free to follow the adult guide as written.  However, experienced and/or confident leaders can simply look at the goals listed  at the beginning of each sample session of the adult book and plan with the girls how you will earn each part of the award. 
The girl books are intended to be an additional resource.  They are a great way for girls to write down their ideas, reflect on an activity that they’ve just participated in or identify some of their interests.  These books aren’t meant to be read and followed from cover to cover.  The meeting planner can find pages that correlate to what you’re doing and incorporate it into the discussion or girls can pursue their books further between meetings to give them further meaning on the topics you are discussing.
There are lots of great ideas in the journey books that you can pick and choose from.  Like always, though, let the girls tell you what they want to do!
Engage Your Community

Help the girls map their community to identify what people and organizations would be available to partner with their journey.  This will help the girls get excited about the activities they’re planning.  Leverage the journeys’ timely themes to attract partners who can bring expertise to girls.  For example, try reaching out to environmental groups, outdoor recreation stores or local farmers to support your It’s Your Planet–Love It Journey! 

Mapping your community will also help the girls get started thinking about their Take Action project.  The more they see what’s going on in the community, talk to the people who are a part of it and understand the resources available, the better equipped they will be to make decisions around an impactful project. 
Don’t forget about parents and families of the girls you’re working with!  This is a great way to get them involved with your troop and to help them understand how impactful Girl Scouting is for girls.  Take a survey of all family members to see what talents, skills and hobbies exist.  Then let the girls pick and choose which  ones will fit in with the journey or badge work that the group is planning. 
If your experience seems too much “like school,” then add more girl-led activities.
Girl Scouts is a non-formal education program that promotes girls’ personal growth and leadership development.  One of the keys to this happening is having girl-led activities.  Encourage girls to lead the planning, decision making, learning and fun as much as possible.  This ensures that the girls are engaged in their learning and experience leadership opportunities as they prepare to become active participants in their local and global communities.
Before girls even open their journey books, ask what the journey’s theme means to them.  Maybe the theme ignites a discussion that helps the girls chart their course for the year.  Probe to find out what the girls are most interested in accomplishing and enjoying over the year. 
Here are some ways girls can take charge of their journey:
  • Girls can decide what journey topic they want to pursue.
  • Girls can find an expert in the field to invite to their meetings (or go out to their site).
  • Girls can divide into small groups, assign each a meeting and plan that meeting for the larger group based on the goals of the journey.
  • Girls can organize an event to help educate others about what they’ve just learned.
  • Girls can identify which badges they want to earn to deepen their skills in a particular area.
  • Girls can plan a ceremony to celebrate their achievements!
Journeys and The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting are intended to be used in tandem.  Remember that:
  • When girls have the opportunity to participate in both journeys and badge work, they get the full Girl Scout Leadership Experience. 
  • Journeys are an experience for girls.  They are meant to span many weeks or a year, depending on how your group plans to organize meetings and activities. 
  • Badges, on the other hand, are skill builders.  They teach the girls specific skills that they can use throughout their lives and give them the opportunity to practice those skills. 
  • When planning your journey, ask the girls which badges they’d also like to work on and scatter these meetings throughout the year. 




For years now, information about service learning has been provided on the last page of Take the Lead, through program opportunities and at service unit meetings.  So why a focus on Service Learning/Take Action?  Taking Action gets girls motivated and excited about making an impact in their community that can be felt in the long-term.  This process encourages girls to think bigger and change the world in a meaningful way.  Girls gain confidence as they identify issues, envision real results and have the opportunity to make a mark. 
How does Service Learning and the Girl Scout Leadership outcomes align? 
Discover: Girls will understand themselves and their values and use their knowledge and skills to explore the world.


Step 1—Investigation: Girls investigate the resources, skills and talents that they bring to their group.  They also investigate the needs in the community related to the environment.  The process of investigation is a great opportunity to incorporate girl planning into the project or another topic that interests them. 


Connect: Girl will care about,
inspire and team with others locally and globally.


Step 2—Preparation: In this step girls and adults work together to set the stage for learning and service.  They will research and discuss their topic using badge work, journeys, hands-on activities, experiments and field trips.  Girls will gain a greater understanding of the environment and issues facing the environment in their local community by meeting and learning about community members that this project impacts. 


Take Action: Girls will act to make the world a better place.
Step 3—Action: Good preparation enables girls to carry out a plan of action and apply new knowledge to a project to benefit their community.  During this step, girls continue to develop knowledge and skills as they meet people different from themselves and interact with their community in a meaningful way. 
Step 4—Reflection:  This step is vital and should be ongoing throughout the service learning process.  This step allows girls to integrate learning and service and allows for personal growth by seeing how the experience, knowledge, and skill they have acquired relate to their own lives and communities. 
Step 5—Demonstration:  Demonstration provides evidence of what the girls have gained and accomplished through their service learning project.  They exhibit their expertise through public presentations, displays, performances or letters to the editor of a news publication.  It is also in this step, girls will celebrate what they have done!
Girl Scout Leadership Journeys
The best way to ensure the service learning process is followed in Girl Scouting is to do a Girl Scout Leadership journey and complementary badges.  Each journey has the girls:
Discover their special skills and talents, finds the confidence to set challenging goals for herself and strives to live by her values.  This includes being proud of where she came from, as well as where she’s going. 
Connect with others, which means she learns how to team up, solve conflicts, and have healthy relationships.  These skills help her in school right now and prepare her for any career she chooses in the future. 

Take Action to make the world a better place, learning a lot about her community and the world along the way. 
Girl Scouts Highest Awards:
Like the Girl Scout Leadership journeys and the service learning process, the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards allow for girls to gain the national Leadership Outcomes while going through a 7-step process.  1. Identify issues you care about  2. Investigate further into the issues  3. Get Help  4. Pick your “Take Action” project
5. Develop your project  6. Make your plan and put it in motion  7. Reflect, share your story and celebrate! 
Girl Scouts Forever Green
Girl Scouts Forever Green (GSFG) Project  was developed to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouting and to honor founder Juliette Gordon Low, who loved nature and the outdoors .  This project will be extending beyond the 2012 anniversary year to engage even more girls in impacting their environment.  Girl Scouts of all ages, volunteers and alumnae are encouraged to take part in GSFG.  This nationwide, Take Action project offers a meaningful leadership experience that makes a huge positive impact on the environment and increases the visibility of Girl Scouts in every community through reducing waste and conserving energy and water.