I’m sitting here trying to plan today’s Girl Scout meeting for the troop I lead. The girls have repeatedly asked to work on one badge in particular and I know it’s because of it’s appearance. It’s pink, with a purple castle. Yes, I have the sort of girls in my troop that that image totally appeals to.
The problem I’m having with this badge is that as I read the requirements, it almost reads like a school assignment. The badge is called “Playing the Past” and the girls are to dream up a character from another time period. In addition to creating this character, they are to come up with a costume (it is suggested they sew it themselves), immerse themselves in the character’s time period by taking on one of her duties (like hand dip candles or churn butter) as well as complete all sorts of research along the way. The mom in me feels like this is way too much like schoolwork and homework, of which I think my child already has too much of. The Girl Scout leader in me knows I will lose the girls along the way if I follow the badge to the letter, because they aren’t going to do the supposedly required research. It IS too much like homework. They are in scouts because it’s fun.
I’ve run into this time and again over the years with the Girl Scouts – their suggested activities are not always age appropriate, require some serious hands on oversight by adults and/or resemble classroom activities. For an organization that is geared towards girls, I am constantly amazed at how they miss the mark time and again. Every leader I know adapts activities for their girls, which prompts me to wonder why the scouts don’t take a look at overhauling their badge activities to make them more age appropriate? Then again, we are talking about an organization that has trouble recruiting adult volunteers, that this year has overhauled their program so that the focus is no longer on badges but these things called “Journeys“. Just look at how they’ve reacted towards the girls who asked them to look at where the palm oil for their cookies come from – they famously removed all negative comments criticizing how they handled it on their Facebook page.
As I looked through the other badges we could work on, trying to find a back up should the girls decide they don’t want to put the effort into this particular badge, I found one that I thought might be a useful one – it’s called “Independence”. It seemed good until I read some of the suggested activities. “Help take care of a car”, which suggests the girls go over all the lights and gauges, look under the hood for a safety check. Another one is to “solve a pesky plumbing problem” and suggests the girls learn how to fix a toilet. The last required step in earning this badge has three choices – stay home alone, run a family errand (by having a parent drop the girls off alone) or go out with a friend, again, alone. While all of these are great activities, they are suggested for 9 and 10 year old girls. As a parent, I don’t find them age appropriate in the least.
I’ve already had a very tense conversation with someone from the Girl Scouts on the subject of my troop not selling cookies. We don’t sell cookies because no one wants to be cookie mom. I was told by my local council it’s not up for the parents to decide, it’s the girls’ decision. Apparently in the universe of Girl Scouts, 10 year old girls are allowed complete authority, telling their parents what they can and cannot do, rather than having parents set limits.
I am all for children being responsible. I am all for raising our girls to be strong, independent women. Supposedly, this is the purpose and mission of the Girl Scouts. It’s a damn shame they don’t actually understand how to go about doing this. Our girls deserve better.