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Finances, STEM and more: What Girl Scouts can expect with new badges on horizon

Girl Scouts everywhere look forward to earning badges each year. Starting in June, 16 new badges will be added to the range of possibilities, bringing even more opportunities for girls to participate in skill-developing activities. 

Throughout its 110-year history, Girl Scouts has been known as an organization dedicated to entrepreneurship, community service and maximizing the potential of every girl. Those values are taught to troops throughout the country, including Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma.

More than 350 ways to practice new skills, earn badges

The badge additions round out the total number of Girl Scout badges to more than 350. School-age Girls from Daisies to Ambassadors can earn badges under four main pillars: Outdoors, entrepreneurship, STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] and life skills.

This year’s new badges focus primarily on financial planning, a category under the life skills pillar, with 13 badges dedicated to issues like money management and financial independence. My Money Habits, My Dream Budget and Money Explorer are a few of the badges created to empower Girl Scouts from a young age to control their future by making smart money decisions.

Current events focus

Mental health, diversity, equity and inclusion, STEM, life skills, financial planning and global awareness are also covered with new badges or updated challenges to be announced later this year. 

“Changes to badges always reflect current events. Our goal is to give Girl Scouts supportive education to help inspire them that they can be part of change,” said Kathy Thompson, retail sales manager at Mary Nichols’ Family Leadership Center. “Girl Scouts programs give participants the skillset to be active community members who stand up for themselves and for their beliefs. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, badges address Girls’ needs for improved access to technology, social skills and more.”

As the mother of two daughters, Thompson has seen firsthand how Girl Scouts learn valuable skills and lessons from a young age.

Lifelong learning

“Girls’ voices and imaginations matter, even at the kindergarten level with our Daisies. From the very beginning, we teach them how to work together in society,” she said. “It’s not just for big girls. As they progress through the years, enhancing those skills to be applicable in the real world is the goal. It all happens from an early age as an avenue to learn and practice skills to create movement in their day-to-day lives that becomes change in the world.”

Thompson began volunteering with Girl Scouts before becoming a troop leader and continuing at the service unit level. She joined Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma’s staff last year.

“My older daughter is now a freshman at OU. She is a Gold Award winner and received multiple scholarship opportunities,” said Thompson. “She was quiet and reserved but developed her social skills, leadership skills and gained perspective by earning Girl Scout badges. It was a Girl Scout activity, LEGO robotics, that got her started with looking at STEM careers and influenced her decision to study engineering.”

New badges, programs anticipated

 STEM badges will also be expanded across all levels this summer.  

“Certain badges and activities will change to be relevant with current issues but for the most part, they will be an option permanent for girls,” said Thompson. “Earning badges can be done with your Girl Scout troop but they are also available as a family fun activity. Start new habits together by doing them more than once or all summer long. We have versatility for our Girls to allow them several different ways for them to earn badges and it really is a way for them to become stronger girls and women in our communities.” 

Summer programs will include a virtual event featuring actress and Girl Scout alum Kristen Bell with a Paint Your World Purple badge-earning opportunity and a Love Your State Parks program complete with a visitors’ passport. 

More information will be announced this summer about the new badges, programs and activities. In the meantime, Girl Scouts everywhere will continue to inspire and challenge one another as they learn lessons and leadership skills for a lifetime. Find more information about summer camps and related activities at camp.gswestok.org.