Girl Scout Leadership Experience

To develop and evaluate this model
objectively, the Girl Scout Research
Institute reached out to various youth
development experts, volunteers,
councils, and national staff.
From this collaborative, intensive
effort, 15 anticipated outcomes
of the New Girl Leadership Experience
were identified.

Today’s effective leaders stress collaboration, inclusion, and a commitment to improving the world around them. Girls themselves tell us that a leader is defined not only by the qualities and skills she hones but also by how she uses those skills and qualities to make a difference in the world—to achieve transformational change! For this reason, the Girl Scout Leadership Experience—the framework for defining what girls do in Girl Scouting, how they do it, and who will benefit, which was born out of years of research and development—engages girls in three key activities: discovering who they are and what they value; connecting with others; and taking action to make the world a better place. 

Girl Scouts has always been a leadership-driven organization for girls, adults and volunteers alike. That rich history is reflected in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and encompasses everything we know and love about Girl Scouts – troops, camp, events patches, cookies, etc. – and enhances these elements with critical leadership processes and outcomes.  

The best way to deliver the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to girls is through Journeys—powerful, fun, and exciting books and awards that are the core of the Girl Scout program. Of course, earning and collecting a variety of badges, patches, and pins is also an important Girl Scout tradition that lives on, because doing so encourages girls to learn and demonstrate important skills.

And Girl Scout ceremonies and songs continue to link girls with not only with their Girl Scout peers today but also with the many Girl Scouts who came before them.

 In this illustration of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, Girl Scouts' activities and the way they do them (processes) result in outcomes that empower girls to become leaders.  


Three Keys to Leadership: The Activities Girls Do

In Girl Scouting, girls discover, connect, and take action as they become leaders. The entire Girl Scout program, regardless of the exact topic, is designed to lead to the 15 leadership outcomes (or benefits) that stem from these three keys.

Discover Key
Girls understand themselves and their values and use their knowledge and skills to explore the world. The benefits (outcomes) for girls from the discover key include:
Developing a strong sense of self
Developing positive values
Gaining practical life skills and practicing healthy living
Seeking challenges in the world
Developing critical thinking skills 

Connect Key
Girls care about, inspire, and team with others locally and globally. Benefits (outcomes) for girls include:
Developing healthy relationships
Promoting cooperation and team-building
Resolving conflicts
Advancing diversity in a multicultural world
Feeling connected to their local and global communities

Take Action Key
Girls act to make the world a better place. Benefits (outcomes) intended for girls include:
Identifying community needs
Working as resourceful problem-solvers
Educating and inspiring others to act
Advocating for themselves and others, at home and around the world
Feeling empowered to make a difference

The most powerful component of the take action key is, not only do Girl Scouts themselves benefit as they grow in their leadership skills, but communities, the nation, and the world benefit as well. Taking action translates to making the world a better place.

Girl Scout Processes: How Girls Go About Doing Those Activities

It’s not just what girls do, but how they are engaged that creates a high-quality experience. All Girl Scout activities are designed to use three processes that make Girl Scouting unique from school and other extracurricular activities. When used together, these processes (girl-led, learning-by-doing, and cooperative-learning) ensure the quality and promote the fun and friendship that’s so integral to Girl Scouting.  Below you’ll find brief descriptions of each process.  

Activities Are Girl-Led
Girls of every grade level take an active role in determining what, where, when, why, and how they’ll structure activities. As part of the adult-girl partnership fostered by Girl Scouts, you use this process to strengthen and support girls’ empowerment and decision-making roles in activities. This non-formal education technique enables the learner to actively participate in directing her own learning. Your role is to provide grade-level-appropriate guidance while ensuring that girls lead as much as possible in the planning, organization, set-up, and evaluation of their activities. The older the girl, the more you step back and serve as a resource and support.  

Girls Learn by Doing
Girls use hands-on learning to engage in an ongoing cycle of action and reflection, deepening their understanding of concepts and mastering practical skills. As girls take part in meaningful activities—instead of simply watching them—and then later evaluate what they have learned, learning is far more meaningful, memorable, and long-lasting. You assist girls in this process by facilitating grade-level-appropriate experiences through which girls can learn, and also by leading discussions that reflect on those experiences. When girls learn by doing, they can better connect their experiences to their own lives, both in and out of Girl Scouting.

Girls Engage in Cooperative Learning
Girls share knowledge, skills, and experiences in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation, working together on a common goal that engages each individual girl’s diverse talents. In cooperative learning environments, people learn faster, process information more efficiently, and are better able to retain the information learned. This idea, also known as “positive interdependence,” engages girls in meaningful ways, encourages and appreciates differences in outlook and skills, and creates a sense of belonging. In your role as a volunteer, you want to structure cooperative-learning activities that will nurture healthy, diverse relationships, and also give continuous feedback to girls on those learning experiences.

These three processes promote the fun and friendship that, for nearly 100 years, have been integral to Girl Scouting. But they do even more: When girls lead, when they learn by doing, and when they engage in cooperative learning, the 15 leadership outcomes (or benefits) discussed in the preceding section are far more likely to be understood and achieved.  The key to achieving these results using the program processes is to ensure progression takes place as girls transition from one Girl Scout Grade Level to another.  For example, Girl Scout Daisies will be guided by the adult leadership through the Learning by Doing process but when they become Girl Scout Seniors, they may be guiding themselves through that process or asking much deeper questions.  

Girl Scout Leadership Experience Frequently Asked Questions

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