The dominant association with Girl Scouts, at least for most people that are not in fact Girl Scouts, is the annual tradition of selling Thin Mints, Samoas, Do-si-dos, and all manner of green-boxed Girl Scout cookies outside of shopping malls. While these cookies are moderately delicious, they are really just cookies, not dissimilar from the lot you could easily pick up in your grocery store cookie aisle. Still, with every spring, Girl Scouts sell their hearts out to earn those merit badges associated with astronomical cookie sales. But cookie sales may have to take a backseat to some of the new merit badges announced for the next generation of Girl Scouts.
Seeing as the mission of the Girl Scouts is to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place,” making the world a better place can mean a lot of things and things like digital movie making, product design, and locavorism are now part of that mission. For the first time in 25 years, the Girl Scouts have completely overhauled the system of badges that courageous and confident girls can earn, with the introduction of many new contemporary themed badges. But it is not all about throwing a bone to the technologically literate or the environmentally conscious. According to NPR, Some of the changes aren’t entirely about changing the subject matter; they’re about adjusting the approach. For example, what used to be a Fashion, Fitness and Makeup badge has been changed, because Alisha Niehaus of the Girl Scouts of the USA says that while the girls in the program are still interested in makeup and fashion, that interest isn’t limited to how things will look, but goes a little deeper. So there will be a badge in the Science & Technology category called The Science Of Style, which will focus on things like the chemistry of sunscreen or perhaps even making your own perfume. And as for new additions like the locavore badge, the newly coveted badge can be acquired by following five simple steps:
1. Explore the benefits and challenges of going local
2. Find your local food sources
3. Cook a simple dish showcasing local ingredients
4. Make a recipe with local ingredients
5. Try a local cooking challenge
Each of the steps includes specific challenges such as interviewing chefs who specialize in locally grown foods, taking a favorite recipe and making it local, or preparing a three-course meal based on local ingredients. Sounds local and like a huge improvement from peddling palm oil-laden sugar snacks.
To be sure, much will remain the same in this centuries old organization (namely the cookies) but it is encouraging to see the Girl Scouts grow up (no word on how or in what way the Boy Scouts might be addressing this change). What is your feeling on such merits? Is it about time? Is it a hollow gesture?