The New Girl Scouts Badges

November 23rd, 2011 by Andrea Bennett

These new badges focus on financial literacy, netiquette, well-being and more.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Just in time for the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts of the USA, the 3.2 million-member organization is updating the iconic Girl Scout badges for the first time in 25 years. The “Looking Your Best” and “Fitness to Fashion” badges, pinned to Girl Scout sashes for decades, have officially been retired. New badges include 13 choices that focus on financial literacy, including “Good Credit,” “Money Manager” and “Savvy Shopper.”

In a recent Boston Globe article, columnist Beth Teitell explained that the 136 Girl Scout badges have always reflected their times, stating, “In 1916 the Telegraph badge seemed cutting-edge, and in 1920 a Canning badge was pertinent. But in the age of YouTube, the local food movement, and Occupy Wall Street, Girl Scouts have different concerns."

One of those concerns, reflected in the most recent batch of badge revisions, is financial responsibility. In a Daily Finance article, Tim Beyers welcomed the 13 financial literacy badges, especially as a recent survey conducted by the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy showed that American high school students scored just 48.3% on the organization's test of basic money knowledge – the lowest score in the survey's history. And, said Beyers, the new badges don’t ignore the fact that “financial independence also takes work.” For instance, the Financing My Future badge requires girls to create a plan for paying for college, “a task many parents still struggle with.” The Good Credit badge requires an understanding of the various ways to borrow money and what goes into building a good credit score.

Happily, financial independence and selling cookies are still nicely aligned. “What you might not know is that the green-sashed entrepreneur who preys on your weakness for Thin Mints is also preparing to be your son’s boss,” Beyers wrote.

Perhaps the most intriguing new badge is “The Science of Happiness,” which challenges girls to work for one month on a strategy believed to increase personal happiness – forgiveness, for instance – and then evaluating its effects on their psychological well-being. According to NPR’s All Things Considered, the Girl Scouts Association developed the badge in partnership with a psychology researcher.

But the process of Girl Scout badge editing isn’t as simple as adding new, exciting badges and completely removing the more classic options – sometimes the badges are simply updated with a more modern tone. For example, the “hostess” badge is being replaced by the “Dinner Party” badge, which challenges girls to source the ingredients they use at their parties (similar to the new “Locavore” badge). The “Fitness to Fashion” badge is now the “Science of Style” badge: “Now we've given it a purposeful bent. They can look at the chemical makeup of sunscreen or makeup, or the use of nanotechnology in fabric,” executive editor of the new badge book, Alisha Niehaus, told the Globe.

What do you think of the new Girl Scouts badges? Do you see the process as a long-awaited update or as an infringement on the classic Girl Scout style? Let us know.