The Girl Scouts of the United States of America is a youth organization for girls in the United States based on the Scouting principles developed by Robert Baden-Powell. Juliette Gordon Low, who had met Baden-Powell in London while she was visiting the United Kingdom, dreamed of giving the United States "something for all the girls." She envisioned an organization that would bring girls out of their cloistered home environments to serve in their communities and experience the open air.
Girl Scouting began in 1912 when founder Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop meeting in Savannah, Georgia on March 12. Girl Scouts of the USA was chartered by the United States Congress on March 16, 1950.
Girl Scouts started with a membership of only 18. Within months, girl members were hiking through the woods in their knee-length blue uniforms, playing basketball in a curtained-off court, and going on camping trips. Today (2003) there are nearly 3.7 million Girl Scouts — 2.8 million girl members and 942,000 adult members in the United States. More than 50 million American women have enjoyed Girl Scouting during their childhood.
Through its membership in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), Girl Scouts of the USA, is part of a worldwide family of over 8.5 million girls and adults in 144 countries.
The aim of the Girl Scouts is that girls will develop to their full potential by:
- Fostering girls' feelings of self-acceptance and unique self-worth by;
- Promoting girls' perception of themselves as competent, responsible, and open to new experiences and challenges.
- Offering girls opportunities to learn new skills.
- Encouraging girls' personal growth.
- Allowing girls to use and practice talents and abilities.
- Relating to others with increasing understanding, skill, and respect by;
- Helping girls develop sensitivity to others and respect for their needs, feelings, and rights.
- Promoting an understanding of individual, cultural, religious, and racial differences.
- Fostering the ability to build friendships and working relationships.
- Developing a meaningful set of values to guide their actions and to provide for sound decision-making by;
- Helping girls develop meaningful values and ethics that will guide their actions.
- Fostering an ability to make decisions that are consistent with girls' values and that reflect respect for the rights and needs of others.
- Empowering girls to act upon their values and convictions.
- Encouraging girls to re-examine their ideals as they mature.
- Contributing to the improvement of society through the use of their abilities and leadership skills, while working in cooperation with others by;
- Helping girls develop concern for the well-being of their communities.
- Promoting girls' understanding of how the quality of community life affects every member of society.
- Encouraging girls to use their skills to work with others for the benefit of all.
There are five age levels in Girl Scouting:
- Daisy, ages 5-6
- Brownie, ages 6-8
- Junior, ages 8-11
- Cadette, ages 11-14
- Senior, ages 14-17
The highest achievement in Girl Scouting is the Gold Award; it can be earned by Senior Scouts only. Cadettes can earn the Silver Award and Juniors the Bronze Award.
For college students that are over the age of 18, the Campus Girl Scouts (http://www.girlscouts.org/join/campus) program allows women to stay active in Girl Scouting. Campus Girl Scouts are adult volunteers and involve the community, the local council, and the campus in their events.
In addition to its scouting program activities, it is well known for raising funds by selling Girl Scout cookies.