The Girl Scouts Journey to the New Age

Before you take a journey, you need to know the destination. This summer the Girl Scouts are inviting members to set out a journey of “change” that is billed as a “leadership experience.” However, it was inspired by a New Age group and it may take you or your daughter to a place that is not compatible with your faith or values.Back in 1993, the Girl Scouts put an asterisk by the word “God” in the Girl Scout Promise which allowed members to tell the Almighty to take a hike. It’s been downhill ever since.

Like the “change” that is now being promoted by presidential candidate Barack Obama, the words are warm and fuzzy and the goals difficult to pin down, but the emphasis in these new Girl Scout journeys is on creating self esteem, developing one’s own value system and global group-think on a series of politically correct themes.

Even the word “leadership” has a new definition. Girl Scout CEO Kathy Cloninger says,

When people, including girls, think about leadership, they still too often think command and control of power and position. Girls in this country need a new definition of leadership so they can relate to it and aspire to it.

Cloninger’s definition of leadership has three components:
• Knowing oneself and having confidence in one’s ability
• Being able to have empathy for and relate well to others and appreciate diversity
• Caring enough to make the world better

How sweet! It looks like the Girl Scouts are more interested in creating a mass that can be easily led around by the nose for the “global good” than giving girls the skills to become real leaders.

As a former Girl Scout, who has broken a lot of barriers for women and who shares a birthday with founder Juliette Lowe, I am taking this latest insult personally.

The Girl Scouts were led down this garden path by the Ashland Institute, an organization that promotes Transitional Awareness.

TA is described on the groups website

an experience in expansion of the True Self addressing ‘All of Life as Change’ (Ah, there is that word again) with Intentional Focus and Intuition. One begins to feel the body as a complete map of human consciousness…

Surely, this is not what Low had in mind when she designed a program to help girls develop “physically, mentally and spiritually!”

Transitional Awareness, according to the Ashland Institute,

is a learning experience which transcends the mind’s information-based system – as the brain, heart and body integrates information you begin to learn in a new and different way as you tune into your Heart Spirit… Through precise observation and feedback and an interview, you allow your Spirit or Essence of your Being, your True Self, to move into creating the life you desire and deserve.

Did you get all that? You, in effect, become your own god.

The first three journeys’ programs begin innocently enough: The Daisy program offers kindergartners the chance to meet flowers and critters who guide them to explore global diversity, botany, the environment and stewardship of the land. The Brownies are invited to “go ELF” by exploring, linking arms and flying into action. The Juniors become “Agents of Change” and make “peace kits.”

By the time they reach the Seniors program, it is hardcore. It’s called GIRLtopia. Senior Scouts are to become “ambassadors” and explore “the rich and global history of women’s advocacy efforts.”

For years, the Girl Scouts offered young girls an opportunity to honor God and develop useful and practical skills. Today the emphasis seems to have shifted to the adults who will serve as “guides” after having been indoctrinated with New Age beliefs through Ashland’s “Coming into Your Own” personal development program. You can only imagine what some of the “outcomes” on these new life journeys will be.

While the scouting experience largely depends on the mind set of local leaders, even with the best of leaders, this this curriculum will be in the hands of the girls. Therefore, for many, compromises have to be made in order to coexist with the national goals, tradition and programs.
The God of the Bible is a jealous God. He is all powerful. We are to seek His will for our lives and live by His values, not create our own.

Fortunately, there are some good alternatives to the Girl Scouts. Legacy Clubs for mothers and daughters began last year in Draper, Utah. American Heritage Girls began 13 years ago in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is now active in 33 states. AHG closely mirrors the program begun by Juliette Low.

52 thoughts on “The Girl Scouts Journey to the New Age

  1. I regret that the “core values” of Girl Scouting that has been part and parcel of the Movement for nearly 100 years, “Duty to God and Country, Service to Others” as well as a set of behavior standards (Laws) that had been watered down.

    In the mid 1970s, when I was a Senior Girl Scout, was when the “first” of many changes occurred, the then new Senior Girl Scout Handbook hand the words “Girl Scout” only three times in the entire volume! My Troop voted (unanimously), to “trash” the new stuff and continue on with the “traditional” program and materials.

    It has only gotten worse from there. The paid staff at the National Level are “non-profit” careerists that rotate from and among many “liberal non-profits.” This “membership” organization is no longer “owned” by the members, (which the National Board of Directors and local Council Boards once represented) but other “like minded” types. This was not the organization that Juliette Low and so many others left to us.

    The only thing that the American Heritage Girls lack is the affiliation with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and all the “new age” liberal-socialist stuff. I am glad to be affiliated with them and invite more Girl Scouts and their parents that are fed-up to come and join us.

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  2. I tried to leave this comment to Christians, who may read Jane’s “Girl Scout” article at Worldnet Daily, on the “Digg” site…too difficult for simple people like me!

    So I’d just like to say, “Come Ye Out From Among Them!” Christian’s have no place in the State Temples, or thier ParaTemple affiliates.

    Joe.

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  3. As a troop leader for the last 8 years I was totally unaware initially of how the organization had changed. I know they are struggling mightily for funding and girls are bailing in droves as they reach the teen years. They are navel gazing in an attempt to grow their numbers and the program for all ages of girls. But they have gone about it all wrong.
    The key issue is that leaders/moms are busier than crap these days. I have had a fabulous co-leader and we have worked well to divide and conquer, but leading a troop is a very time consuming and often thankless job. We get almost no support from the main organization, and what little training there is is not enough. Council office is a bureaucratic maze that I cant stand dealing with (again grateful to my more patient and diplomatic co-leader) and nationals now have a ‘paid advocate for girls issues’. I dont want an advocate in Washington – I want resources and a paid Service Unit leader who is active in supporting, training and guiding leaders.

    A LOT of our time is spent coaching and mentoring new leaders and this should not be our role, and we are burning out. Our girls are not interested in the programming materials ‘Studio 2B’ which was a huge waste. All we are doing is trying to get our 4 girls who are left in our troop to the ‘Gold Award’ and that is it. We want no part of the core organization.
    The rank and file are too busy trying to lead their troops to even be aware of all of this subtle but disturbing shift in priorities and language.

    My son is in Boy Scouting, and their method of organization is far superior. The boys meet in a large group divided into patrols with leaders taking on specialized roles as mentors but the boys do the bulk of the planning and organizing. the older ones teach the younger ones. My son is truly becoming a leader – trying things, making mistakes, learning from them. I only wish the GS were the same way!!
    I was a GS for 8 years and the organization had a hugely positive impact on my life. It makes me sad to see them fall far from their original ideals.

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  4. I was leary about this new program, having read articles such as yours. But having seen the actual program last night, I feel confident I can incorporate it and still not become a granola-chunking hippie. I am not a religious person – simply a spiritual one – but I did not want my daughters to become indoctrinated in leftist babble either. I can say that this will not happen with me as their leader. The best way for women of faith to take action is to remain in the program and adapt it toward the beliefs of your troop. As a spiritual person, I do take issue with “The God of the Bible is a jealous God. He is all-powerful. We are to seek His will for our lives and live by His values, not create our own.” This sounds more like a Hitler or Saddam, not the God I know that is loving God. I would hope God does not want us to spend our life in fear and condemnation. I would hope that other right-leaning authors such as yourself would look at the program, rather than judge it blindly, and get involved in the Girl Scout movement, not to turn it into an outlet of religious fear and hatred, but to keep it centralized, so that there is something for all girls. Girls of the world need not all be of the same religion, but they can camp together, explore together, have friendships together – and that is what it’s all about. The program should not be an indoctrination of right or left values – but should incorporate those things that all girls share. So, I choose to stay with Girl Scouts, and try to make a difference from within, a difference that comes from understanding the program. Not remain outside and condemn and judge blindly, or try to defer girls to narrow-minded, like-minded groups. I challenge your readers to do the same.

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  5. What’s wrong with young girls being taught self respect and learning about self esteem? Just because you, Jane, hate yourself doesn’t mean that 10 year old girls have to hate themselves. Maybe you should go let your jealous god punish you … you’ve been a bad bad bad girl.

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  6. The biggest problem is that no one is pushing back on these new programs and idealogies. Girl Scouts is run by a volunteer base that is for the most part fairly conservative and has traditional values. The executive staff does not hold the same values, and so there is always a disparity between what is wanted and what is provided. In an effort to appeal to the teen population, they are ignoring their customer base — elementary-aged girls.

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  7. Well, there was a rather lengthy discussion on this on a girl scout group about two weeks ago. I think we all need to review the books, when ever they are finally made available, prior to making a hasty decision.
    I worry about the attempt at a generational indocrination to the New Age mentality, if the Journeys are infact National New Age based. GSUSA, is accepting funding from what ever source will give it, unfortunately that includes many left wing groups. Let’s face it when we as leaders and volunteers are told to visually access the ethniticity of girls for justification for United Way funding, the organization is having an issue.
    As for the program, it might end up being like Studio 2B, not to be, so lets research it and not get our knickers in a twist until all the laundry has been looked at and reviewed. GSUSA had to back down on Studio 2B, now they are focus books.
    We may opt to place our daughter in Venture Scouts, she earned her Silver as an eighth grader. My thought is though, this might end up being another situation like Harry Potter; we have let our children watch and read but have gone through the scriptures with them as to why certain things are wrong.I am however worried for the girls who have had Girl Scout ethical development substitute religious formation if , infact, the Journeys are going to subtlely push the New Age agenda. We really need to sit back and read the books for ourselves and have your pastor look at them if you are really worried.

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  8. Dear Jane,
    I can feel your lament through your column today, and I feel it well. I didn’t know the Girl Scouts had put an asterisk next to God, I pray it hasn’t happened to the Boy Scouts, given all the grief they’ve endured.
    I have long held a cynical view of the Girl Scouts because it changed so much between the way it ran when my older sister was in it, being rather closely parallel to the Boy Scouts in principles and purpose, and what I found when we entered our daughter into it.
    When I became a Boy Scout, at ten, I was an atheist. I was so because I was raised by atheists, and I had no experience to hold onto supporting the idea of “God”. I silently left out the part of my oath, taken each Wednesday night, the part that said “to God”, and went quickly on to “my Country”. I was in the Scouts for eight years, leaving them when I entered the Marines.
    I took my Constitutional oath seriously, and realized that it was not a new oath, but an expansion of the oath I had been under for eight years, also discovering I was still “under oath” in my own mind, even after getting out of the Corps.
    Having gone back in, finished almost two decades of service and becoming a Christian, I realized that one can never take back that oath and remain faithful to the truth. For that reason, I still consider myself as bound by my Scout oath as well as that I took in service to our Nation, and feel only God can release me from it.
    When I read about this “new age scouting” I am angered and dismayed because people took well organized community serving groups, threw out the principles they were founded upon, and proclaimed their new form was not only right, but actually superior to the old form, and denying any responsibility for the real and quantifiable destruction they have wrought. What you exposed today in your column is like a slap in the face when I thought I’d already been done with that wickedness. Such people disgust me, and make me question whether a people can be self governing, we certainly can’t be now, as we currently exist.
    Thanks again,
    john mcclain

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  9. Dear Jane,

    I enjoyed reading your blog today and wanted to share some information about the Ashland Institute and its “staff.”

    After coming across an article on the GSUSA website that announced the partnership with the Ashland Institute, I did a little research to find out more about them and was surprised to find out that they are a New Age commune located in Oregon. After a little more digging, I found this article about the founder, Michale Cecil: http://www.religionnewsblog.com/4651/leader-left-divine-light-behind-him It states that he was the former leader of the “Emissaries of Divine Light” that has been described as a cult by numerous sources: http://www.factnet.org/cults/Emissaries_Divine_Light/Barbara_Clearbridge.html Further, it states that his current wife and several women associated with the Ashland Institute are also members of this cult.

    This past week, I saw a copy of the newest catalog and it showed a page from the Brownie Journey materials. There was a picture of three girls with a magical elf, and the text described them as summoning the magical elf by chanting a particular phrase while holding their bracelets together and dancing in a circle. This very much parallels the Emissaries teachings of chanting and “Power of the Circle” and it is apparent that they have had quite a bit of influence.

    I don’t know why people aren’t jumping up and down and screaming about this!
    Yvonne

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  10. Hi Jane,
    Thank you for keeping up the hard work on uncovering where the GSA institute is going. I am a new coordinator, and rather than bad mouth what is quite obviously wrong with the GSA program, I encourage parents to consider American Heritage Girls as a viable option for their girls. My son is a Boy Scout. And I have been on the Boy Scout side for the last five years. AHG has a wonderful program for girls which includes the Stars and Stripes award for the older girls. Troop meetings are twice a month, with the older girls leading as song leaders, serving as camp aides and if they are Catholic, earning the Marian Award – learning about their faith- other faiths are also accepted and have their own awards. Badges are awesome and you can spin them to fit your own faith. This is encouraged and praised by the National office. Girl scouts is not religious. It fits the needs of the athiests in the world, but what about the rest of us who want our girls to be pure, respectful and faithfilled- these are our future mothers of the world. I love the program and am so impressed by all the aspects. Go to http://www.ahgonline.org and experience the peace of the Lord. He is calling all of you to go to HIM. He is calling you to serve HIM. For those of you who are fighting within, keep up the good work and God bless you. I feel your fight is futile.

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  11. Sharon,

    I agree with most of what you said except for the last statement. I feel it is important for those of us with traditional values to stay and create Girl Scout troops that go against the GSUSA liberal grain.
    If we all give up and leave, then they have certainly won.

    The information that Yvonne shared is heartbreaking — I would strongly urge all Girl Scout leaders to contact their religion’s national scouting committee and ask for them to intervene. It’s time to get people fired up on a national level — it’s not a subject that most people are aware of!

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  12. A complete list of national scouting organizations by religion can be found here: http://www.praypub.org/recognitions/girlscout.htm

    A memo was sent to all council CEOs yesterday asking them to “calm the membership” and to assure tham that GSUSA is not a radical organization. (Ha!) So this is an opportune time to voice your concerns often and LOUDLY to anyone who will listen on a national level.

    Thank you, Jane, for giving blog space to this topic. It is a serious time for Girl Scouts.

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  13. Hi Jane,

    Someone just recently forwarded this information to me regarding the Oxford Leadership Academy — they are the other consulting group that helped create the Journey series.

    Yvonne

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    This probably won’t surprise you, but the Oxford Leadership Academy also has cult ties — this time to the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_Leadership_Academy

    http://bkwsuwatch.com/?page_id=23

    http://www.joyofsects.com/discussion/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=000202;p=0

    http://www.brahmakumaris.info/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=257&start=45

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  14. The one good thing about GSUSA putting ads in the Leader magazine, is that we can contact the advertisers and inform them of this partnership with the Ashland Institute. All of this makes my skin crawl!

    From the Summer 2008 issue:

    Dick’s Sporting Goods (www.dickssportinggoods.com)
    Reebok (www.reebok.com)
    Go RVing (www.gorving.com)
    Bayer Healthcare (www.BayerUS.com)
    Nuclear Energy Institute (www.nei.org)
    Disney Channel (www.DisneyChannel.com)
    Energy Star
    Woolrich (www.woolrich.com)
    Caravan (www.caravan.com)
    Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov)
    US Career Institute (www.uscareerinstitute.com)
    Dell (www.dell.com)
    Lee Furniture (www.furniturebylee.com)
    American Airlines (www.aa.com)
    Wall Words (www.wallwords.org)
    Replacements Ltd. (www.replacements.com)
    Wett Giggles (www.wettgiggles.com)
    Shrinky Dinks (www.shrinkydinks.com)
    Family Labels (www.familylabels.com)
    Amy Adele (www.amyadele.com)
    Giggle Media (www.gigglemedia.com)
    Pro Active (www.proactive.com)
    Dove (www.campaignforbeauty.com)

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  15. This was forwarded to me today from someone in scouting who wishes to remain anonymous:

    July 18, 2008

    GSUSA Communications Alert

    Please disregard the email previously sent regarding this subject.

    During the past few weeks there have been a handful of Web site and blog entries making the rounds criticizing the Girl Scouts for becoming too new age/radical. Knowing that some of you have been approached by staff members, volunteers and parents regarding these articles, the attached memo provides our point of view on the issues raised. We hope that this information will be helpful to you in providing a thoughtful and clear response to those who have expressed concern over these articles.

    While we want to be very responsive to the members of the Movement, we do not want to give these groups any more visibility than they have already received. To that end, we would ask that you not respond to authors of these articles (please direct them to the Communications Department at GSUSA should they contact you) and please refrain from mass distribution of the attached memo.

    GSUSA Communications Team

    Dear Council CEOs and Board Chairs:

    During the past few weeks there have been a handful of Web site columns and blog entries making the rounds that express opinions critical of the Girl Scouts. Among the accusations are that Girl Scouting has been captured and brainwashed by New Age theorists; that we have become a left-wing radical organization; and that we have drifted away from, or even altered, our fundamental principles.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    We have not, across the Movement or at GSUSA, abandoned our roots. We haven’t been “taken over” by anybody. We use a wide range of service providers, and we consult with an even wider range of friends and advisers, but our agenda is set by the needs of the girls we serve, not by anyone or anything else.

    Knowing that some of you have been approached by staff members, volunteers, and parents regarding these articles, this memo provides perspective on the issues raised.

    In reviewing the articles, four themes emerge. To address them one by one:

    Self-reliance and moral relativism. Some people seem to be disturbed by the fact that we encourage girls to look to their own internal values for guidance rather than turn to an external authority figure (or an external source, such as the Bible). This, they imply, means we’re “moral relativists,” i.e., we think anything goes.

    It doesn’t mean anything of the sort. The primary vision of the Girl Scouts is to be the world’s best leadership experience for girls. As part of carrying out that vision, we seek to develop girls’ self-confidence and nurture their ability to rely on their judgment, skills, and values.

    We don’t do that, however, in a morally relativistic or values-free context. The Girl Scout Law clearly spells out the values that guide us: honesty, fairness, friendship, consideration, caring for others, courage, strength, responsibility, and respect, both for oneself and for authority. We regard these values, as we have for nearly a century, as a solid basis for a life of leadership, integrity, and service.

    Religious inclusiveness. In some ways, this is related to the moral relativism issue. A footnote accompanies the Girl Scout Promise; it explains that the word “God” (“To serve God and my country”) can be interpreted in a number of ways, and that girls may substitute whatever word their spiritual beliefs dictate.

    The footnote is being interpreted as meaning the Girl Scouts are, as one commentator put it, “anti-God.” This is a total misrepresentation. The Girl Scouts has always been, and remains, an organization with a deep commitment to the spiritual. It also has a deep and very longstanding commitment to inclusiveness. We welcome and embrace girls of every race, ethnicity, level of ability—and religion.

    That’s why the footnote is there. The Constitution of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America is very specific on this point:

    The motivating force in Girl Scouting is spiritual. The ways in which members identify and fulfill their spiritual beliefs are personal and private.

    The Girl Scout Movement is open to all girls and adults who accept the Girl Scout Promise and Law and meet membership requirements.

    When we say “personal,” “private,” and “all,” we mean it.

    Social activism. The mission statement of the Girl Scouts is “building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” It’s pretty hard to make the world a better place without changing it some, and it’s pretty hard to change the world, or even a neighborhood, without a certain amount of organization and collective action. The Girl Scouts has always had a strong component of civic engagement, and still does.

    Our critics object to what is being characterized as “radical left-wing” civic engagement. The issue that’s usually singled out is climate change: having girls talk about and try to do something about global warming is “Girl Scout radicalism.” Without getting into the arguments for either side, we’d simply like to note that global warming, radical or not, is an issue that girls are concerned about. When we asked our girl membership to suggest a community action project for the 100th anniversary, climate change was overwhelmingly their number-one choice.

    Female leadership. Another area in which we’re taking direction from girls is our leadership model. In Change It Up!, the recent Girl Scout Research Institute study on girl leadership, girls made it very clear that they wanted a different kind of leadership: one that’s collaborative (a leader works with others and brings out the best in them) rather than positional (a leader stands at the front and tells others what to do), and that helps make the world a better place.

    This model is at the heart of the New Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Through our new leadership journeys, we’re helping girls become the kind of leaders they aspire to be. They told us what they want, and we’re delivering it.

    In some of what’s been written, there’s an undertone of disapproval that we’re so focused on girls taking leadership roles in the first place. Here’s the way we look at it. Women today make up 51.3% of the U.S. population. And yet they only make up:

    ●17% of the U.S. House of Representatives
    ●16% of the Senate
    ●16% of U.S. governors
    ●15.4% of Fortune 500 corporate officers
    ●6.7% of Fortune 500 top earners
    ●2% of Fortune 500 CEOs
    ●17% of all directors of Fortune 100 corporations

    That’s an imbalance. As the nation’s leading organization for girls—one whose core vision is being the premier leadership experience for girls in the United States—we’re trying to do something about that imbalance.

    We’re proud of what we’re doing, and we think Juliette Gordon Low would be proud too. Juliette advocated for women to be leaders not just in the home but in business, the arts, and the sciences. This was in 1912, when women business leaders and scientists (and, by and large, artists) were almost nonexistent. She wanted to change her world—and she did.

    We’re changing our world, too. Our mission is clear and we’re paying close attention to the people we’re here to serve—the girls. We have not moved away from our roots. We’re right where we’re supposed to be, doing what we’re supposed to be doing. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

    Sincerely,

    Laurel

    Laurel Richie
    Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
    GSUSA

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  16. Thank-you for posting the memo from the National Staff to the paid staff in the Councils.

    The program, as it has been evolving for the last 10 years, is not something I want to be training on, nor working with girls on. I’m an “old school” greenblooded Girl Scout.

    There is NOTHING wrong with the original Girl Scout Trefoil based on the Great Shield if the United States of America – but in the 1970s it was wrong and we had to change it!

    There is nothing wrong with the wording of the original Girl Scout Promise and the 10 Laws that mirrored the “Ten Commandments,” an ethical standard for behavior by Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the Globe, by a multitude of religious beliefs.

    There is nothing wrong with having a “uniform” so that you are readily identifiable as a “Girl Scout,” but no…

    There is nothing wrong with saying “grace” at meals, but no…

    There is nothing wrong with participation in a religious observance in a Girl Scout uniform, but no…

    There is nothing wrong with learning skills, helping in emergencies and providing service, but no…

    There is nothing wrong with being totally upfront with adult volunteers and saying – “This is who we are, this is what we believe, these are the requirements, this is what you must do.” Instead we dumb it down, cut the amount and content of trainings, tell lies and tell people – “well it’s not actually required to …”
    And so we have partially trained leadership.

    We do not hire our volunteers to be paid staff at the National levels, we do not hire our former girl members as they become adults to be paid staff, instead we hire the latest liberal grad student on the “non-profit” corporate career ladder that was never a member, has no concept of the program but wants to push their agendas.

    Thank-you for bringing these issues out to a wider audience.

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  17. Jane, this is a sad commentary illustrating the stark difference between the traditional America that rose to greatness and the coming socialist ‘North American Union’ that is causing this nation to descend into the mediocrity and social decay seen Europe and Britain.

    There is no substitute for Christianity that has ever proven to be superior or more effective in bringing peace and prosperity. Neither has there ever been any government that has ever survived as long with such success without Christianity at its core. As history attests, we dare not become another Babylon – but that is exactly where such leftist GSA drivel leads.

    (Jane, I think of you much, and pray for you…)

    Ron

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  18. One other point, Jane – regarding the post above by ‘John McCain’ – I seriously doubt its authenticity, unless you personally verified it.

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  19. Sorry about three posts here, Jane – but the above response from Laurel Richie, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of GSUSA requires commentary on her leadership – most specifically where she (and obviously others) led.

    Where did they lead on ‘Global warming’ – apparently into further brainwashing on one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated by the worlds socialist community.

    Did Richie (or other ‘leaders’) tell the girls that for the past seven years the world has been getting colder? Did she tell them that in the Antarctic, where we’ve been monitoring temperature for over 30 years, that during all these years, up to and including current day numbers, that temperature varies very little around the average mean of about 0.12°C? Did she tell them that hundreds of the world’s most prominent and renowned scientists have strongly disputed man-made global warming and claim that the theory “bit the dust” in 2007? Did they read to the girls the US Senate report that completely debunks any “consensus” regarding global warming?

    Most importantly, did Richie tell the girls that many scientists around the world will not speak out against ‘global warming’ propaganda publicly for fear of retribution – and that another Senate report specifically details how skeptical scientists have faced threats and intimidation, loss of employment, and harassment for offering evidence disproving global warming?

    The answer is that such questions uncover the kind of ‘leadership’ the GSUSA is providing.

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  20. All I can say is Wow! Whatever happened to “They’ll know we are Christians by our love?”

    I suspect that most of you have not looked at the program materials – as for the elf, the Brownie Elf has existed pretty much since the Brownie program was created back in the 50s (you all know, the days when GS was wholesome and Christian). Nothing Satanic about it.

    I suspect that if you do some research on the BSA, you’ll find that they’ve relaxed some of their guidelines. For example, you’re welcome to join as long as you profess a belief in an organized religion. This means (gasp!) that muslims are welcome, and we all know they don’t pray to God.

    The GS program was radical from the get-go, despite what Ms. Chastain might think. Perhaps she should read Juliette Gordon Lowe’s biography. This was not a woman who thought that girls should be traditional in any way.

    As for the new program, what is wrong with allowing girls to think for themselves? Personally, I want my son and daughter to form their religious beliefs from my husband and myself, and their church, not from scouting. If you are afraid that your child will fall from grace because their GS troop might introduce them to the idea that others might not share your belief, then perhaps you haven’t done your job properly, eh?

    Ah, but it’s so much easier to blame others – the school, the media, the GS. It’s never the parents or the church’s fault that a child stops believing is it?

    Remember what Christ taught us – let those without sin cast the first stone……

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  21. Let me tell you about American Heritage Girls. As a Girl Scout leader, I looked into this group when I was looking for a more “conservative” group for my daughters. What I found was a fundamentalist group that discourages girls from doing anything other than be at home. I am an at-home mom, and I agree this is important, but it is also a personal choice. I will never cease to be amazed at one-size-fits-all mindset that just because a certain group has found solace in something, that everyone else should, and if they don’t, they should be condemned. My opinion – AH Girls are the opposite side of the same coin – teaching girls arrogance and bigotry. Anyone looking for a program for their girls to develop good values that is not indoctrinating them will be hard pressed to find one…

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  22. Not GSA!!!!!!!!

    It is GSUSA, Girl Scouts of the USA, Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

    Not GSA!!!!!

    Get at least one thing right, people!!!!

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  23. Jane,

    Thank you for writing about this. I have been concerned about the future of Girl Scouting myself for some time now.

    I attended Girl Scouts’ Western Regional Training Conference in Phoenix last August and felt uncomfortable with several of the activities, which included “choosing a color” for myself, which was then evaluated for me to explain what I really felt/thought (as if I don’t already know myself well); walking a maze at the Girl Scout camp in Phoenix – having my “aura” analyzed via a dowsing rod first – they seemed much more interested in spending time doing this than in giving us an actual tour of the Girl Scout camp; participating in an “Elder Circle” where we had to bring or choose an object and then place it in the center of the circle, explaining its meaning to us (do I really need an “object” to represent something and tell everyone about it?) in front of others in the circle (whom I didn’t even know, because it was a conference!); etc. At the time, I wondered if the Girl Scout adults in Phoenix were moving towards some sort of New Age or pseudo-Native American religion of some sort. I knew that if I had a daughter in Girl Scouts in the Phoenix area I would be extremely worried about it, so I was grateful my own daughter was in a troop elsewhere. I wrote some comments about my misgivings on my evaluation of the conference and mentioned it to a few people, but most of those with whom I spoke thought I was reading too much into the activities at the conference.

    After attending one of GSUSA’s recent “spring conferences” a couple of months ago, where the new Girl Scout program was explained to us so that we could take the program back to the other adults in our council, I was further dismayed by the morning sessions we had every day where we continued with more of the “touchy-feely” pseudo-religious practices before heading off in the afternoon to actually learn about the new program for girls.

    I expressed concern when I heard my council intends to have us teach other adults using these pseudo-religious ceremonies and such. GSUSA has written up a training that we could give to new leaders about the new program without going into all of these practices I feel uncomfortable about, but my council thinks that all of the ceremonial/spiritual/communications activities have value and want us to teach the leaders these things as well. Looking at the books, I can see that adult leaders could run a program just by reading the books. Having a training isn’t really necessary if the adult just wants to read what he/she is supposed to do with the girls. Yet, my council persists, much like the council in Phoenix did last year.

    So, I finally had to put my foot down. I have backed off from training for Girl Scouts. I just cannot train courses which go against the things I believe in – namely Christianity. I am a socially liberal and inclusive person, but when it comes to religious practices I finally felt I had to draw the line.

    I am not giving up on Girl Scouts yet, though. I am merely going to back off on the training, go about leading my small troop in an unobtrusive way, and wait to see what happens.

    I hope that others may also feel there are problems with the new program, and if that is the case, that these changes may be discarded several years from now in favor of returning to a more traditional program, or at least to one which does not use New Age ceremonies and such to indoctrinate girls.

    One hopeful note is that in 2000 GSUSA introduced a new program for older girls called STUDIO 2B, which fell flat and was rejected by girls and adults alike despite the several years that GSUSA pressed the program on us. Last year, GSUSA began to dismantle the STUDIO 2B program, saying we would retain some of the things from it, but would no longer even use the terms “STUDIO 2B”.

    Sitting back a bit and waiting for the dust to clear and the fighting to stop,

    An anonymous and soon to be former Girl Scout trainer who doesn’t want reprisals so will not be divulging her name or city

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  24. Hi readers,
    While reading everyone’s comments many have said they choose to stay in GSUSA because they can work from within and be the change within. While I appreciate this attitude, consider that your money is still going to a national office that you don’t agree with. While your money is going toward movements you don’t agree with and you are hoping you can change, the message you are sending to your daughters is…”We don’t agree with this but we are staying with it anyway.” It condons what the GSUSA is doing and in effect, breeds the next generation of women who will overlook what is happening. At some point, you have to make a stand. To paraphrase Paul, “At some point, you have to shake the dust from your sandals and walk away because it’s not going to make a difference”. Perhaps walking away IS the difference.

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  25. I have been keeping up with all that is going on. I have been an Outdoor Trainer for 15 years. Teaching Girl Scout Troop leaders the skills that they need to take their troops camping and to explore the great outdoors.
    Our council has chosen to resist the realignment process and many old timers like myself who did not agree and voiced our opinion were “released as volunteers” and yet they still send us flyers asking us to donate our hard earned money to fund their objectives.

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  26. Lee states; “What I found was a fundamentalist group that discourages girls from doing anything other than be at home.”

    As an AHG alumna who is employed at one of the top 100 advertising agencies in the United States, I find this comment to be anything but a fallacy.

    AHG instilled in me the skills I needed to succeed in life whether that be in the workplace or at home. The values in AHG taught me what it means to be a strong, confident and moral woman who is not afraid to stand up for her beliefs and her God-given talents.

    Throughout my time in American Heritage Girls I was forced to break out of my “comfort zone” and to accomplish feats I never deemed possible. Even something as small as building a fire on my own, or learning to shoot a bow and arrow taught me that I can accomplish anything with the right mindset and with the focus on the One with whom all things are possible.

    In this day and age girls are told that they should do what “feels” right and that beauty is found within images in magazines. We cannot let our girls and young women continue to believe these fallacies. AHG provides a fun and safe haven for girls to associate with their peers and to develop their moral compass and learn that we are ALL beautiful because we are made in God’s image.

    AHG helps mold confident, beautiful, successful women and I for one, would not be the same without it.

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  27. This is my very first entry on anyone’s blog, and I felt compelled to make it because of the many partial truths and complete untruths that are to be found in this thread.

    The current definition of “leadership” that the GSUSA CEO Cloninger quotes is neither new nor specific to Girl Scouts – it’s been hanging around for at least 30 years. Juliette Low, in 1913, finished off her call to offer girls an opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually by saying that it meant (and I quote directly from the first Girl Scout Handbook)”To be a Girl Scout, a girl should love and admire these things [honor, duty, loyalty, kindness, comradeship, purity, cheerfulness, and thrift] in other people, seek to attain them herself, and to promote them in her comrades, not in any priggish fashion, but through being loyal, honorable, kind, and helpful, in the home, in the school, in the field, on the playground, and in the Club Room”. These principles were to “be instilled into the minds of girls sho are destined to become the mothers and guides of the next generation”. (serving as guides isn’t very new age either). Those core values, far from being told to take a hike, are included in the current Girl Scout Law, just as they have been in all six versions of the Law/Laws. Those laws changed 4 times in the first 10 years of Girl Scouting (sorry, Debbie), Juliette recognizing that change was a good and wonderful thing.

    Those non-profit careerists who are paid staff members have become necessary because it costs a lot of money to be a Girl Scout, and someone has to go out there and find it. In suburban councils, it costs over $250 per year per girl to operate the camps, train the leaders, offer the programs, organize the girls, etc., yet girls still only pay $10 per year to the national and local level. Where does all the rest of the $240 come from? The United Way, contrary to common belief, does not give large amounts of money to either the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts, and makes up only about 10% of most council revenues. Boy Scouts have profited mightily over the years from the alumni who were able to make large donations. Girl Scouts grew up into women, who frequently did not (and do not) have money of their own to donate. I certainly disagree with some of those non-profit careerists, but don’t see many others lining up to share the burden of running a national organization. If you think it’s a disorganized mess now, what would it be like with no money, no resources, and no paid staff at all?

    Girl Scouts do, and have for at least the last 40 years, encourage involvement with girls’ own faith communities. The Marian Award that Sharon wrote about has been available for Roman Catholic Girl Scouts to earn for years. There are comparable recognitions for girls of all faiths. Check out the Programs of Religious Activities with Youth website (www.praypub.com). It’s been around since 1923, and working with Girl Scouts since 1970. There’s a big difference between letting girls and their families decide how to honor God, and making the programs available to them through partnerships with other agencies, and telling God to take a hike.

    Girl Scouts no longer have a specific uniform for older girls because they refused to work with any vendors who could not guarantee that child labor was not used in making goods. Guess what? That makes uniforms really expensive, and most older girls were not buying them. Do we sell girls uniforms they can afford, and tell them to ignore that fact that young children worked in sweatshops to make them? Not quite the message that I want to pass on to girls.

    Those New Age ceremonies that some have described sound an awful lot like the Scout’s Own from my 1963 Junior Handbook. All Girl Scout ceremonies in that Handbook were conducted in circles, and everyone was supposed to share their thoughts and reflections. I never much liked it, but it was a “Girl Scout tradition”. So was singing the Johnny Appleseed grace and making it rain. My daughter is at Girl Scout camp right now, and they STILL believe it will rain if they sing Johnny Appleseed.

    Healthy disagreements are a great way to make Girl Scouts and everything else better. Studio 2B drizzled out of existence, and gave everyone a chance to work towards something better. Healthy disagreement, however, must be based on accurate premises. It’s important to know whereof you speak, and not to take someone else’s word for it. And Moonbeam, you’re right it’s GSUSA. I do happen to belong to GSA, as well, and that’s the Gerontological Society of America.

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  28. In our opinion, as ex-members of the cultic religion so-called ‘Brahma Kumari World Spiritual University’ (there is no such authorized university), that the leadership of the sect are using such programs as “management leadership”, “values in healthcare” and “values education” to introduce themselves, their teachings and practises into other societies by stealth or deception.

    Whether these individual programs have or have not any value, is not really issue. In our experience, these are typical service programs that have been developed by followers to promote the interests of the religion. They are being used not just as a ‘soft sell’ to bring the Brahma Kumaris into contact with other influential leaders which they they call “contact souls” or “microphones” (that is individuals who do not have the big picture but who the BKWSU can use to lend creditability broadcasting their teachings and practises), but also as a revenue stream for BK related fronts and selected adherents.

    We would suggest that individuals and organization put aside the attraction of such veneers, often freely offered, and investigate the inner teachings and practises of the Brahma Kumaris. These center around the total surrender of one’s mind, body and wealth to the channelled entity they name after the Hindu God of Destruction Shiva.

    They taught that Shiva possessed their deceased founder Lekhraj Kripalani and that both still speaks and acts through the organization’s trance mediums and mediumistic channelers. A spirit guide that the BKs consider to be the God of all religions, of which they are the elite.

    The Brahma Kumaris have taught since its beginning, that humanity faces an unavoidable millenarian nuclear holocaust in which the “impure” population of the world will be killed in order to “purify” the world to make way for a heaven on earth for 900,000 of their faithful followers. Consequent to numerous failed predictions, the leadership is in a gradual process of revising its philosophy and history. Indeed, for the first 20 years, they believed that their founder Kripalani was God, an act hidden from recent converts.

    At such programs, introductory forms of the initiation of individuals into a relationship with their spirit guide are involved under the guise of “peace visualizations” or empowerment mediations.

    BK life is a denial and total detachment of this “impure” world, normal family relationships and an increasing surrender to this spirit entity under the promise of rich rewards in the future “Golden Age” of which its leadership shall rule Imperially. “Destruction” not only plays the most key element but in their theology and the Brahma Kumaris believe they have the role of inspiring it. That the purification fire emanates from them.

    One is left questioning their much advertised and much exploited relationship with the United Nations.

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  29. When I first started reading all of this, I thought that someone had been smoking something funny. I’m just stunned that all of this has been going on at the national level while we’ve been naively selling cookies and singing camp songs like there’s no tomorrow.

    I agree with a previous poster that GSUSA is dabbling in a lot of things but don’t have a grasp on the bigger picture of where they come from. Who is finding all of these “consultants”?

    My heart is breaking …

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  30. I was a Girl Scout most of my life. I am a Gold Award recipient, was a GS camp counselor and a GS leader. 3 years ago I became aware of where the National Council was heading and decided it was time for traditional scouting to make a come back. I founded Frontier Girls, a conservative alternative to Girl Scouts, but one that is open to all girls who believe in God regardless of their religious affiliation just as the original Girl Scout program was.

    My co-leader at the time was a Morman and was unable to sign the statement of faith for American Heritage Girls. There was no way I could look her daughter in the face and tell her that while she would be allowed to remain in my troop, her mother would no longer be able to help since she did not believe exactly the way I did. As a result we founded Frontier Girls in 2007 and now have troops in 9 states (with several more coming on board this fall.) We offer more badges than any other program (including the Girl Scouts) and have made a commitment to write a badge on virtually any subject that interests a girl with the exception of those we feel are better addressed by parents or religious leaders. We are the only program that offers badges on character traits such as modesty, joy, responsibility, and kindness.

    You can learn more about our program at our website, http://www.frontiergirls.com . We are 100% volunteer run and are supported solely through registration fees and individual donations. Each troop organizes their own fund raisers based on their goals and keeps 100% of the money earned. We want our girls to be known for patriotism, community service, and good character, not for the product they sell.

    Even if you never get involved with Frontier Girls I highly encourage EVERY parent, whether of boys or girls, to visit our site and go to the Level Achievement Award under our Awards tab. These are a list of 30 life skills every child should have by the end of 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 12th grades. If you do this with your child, they will be well prepared for life on their own after high school.

    Please visit our website at: http://www.frontiergirls.com

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  31. Well, I just got back from Challenge Camp and Adventure Camp at the Boy Scout reservation in Ohio. It was unbelievable! The BSA Venturers were the girls counselors, while the parents of each rank were also expected to stay along with the girls the whole time for each rank. It was safe, it was fun and my girls loved the adventure. The Venturers were awesome role models. It was an American Heritage Girl Camp. My 7th grader earned swimming (I don’t recall needing to be a good swimmer to be good mother- Lee that one was for you), archery (olympics here we come), canoeing (again, a skill I never learned), zoology, geology. The badges can be very technical in nature. My youngest learned all about knife safety, map and compass, puppetry, outdoor skills, BB gun and Archery. She learned how to fish! Some girls were brave enough to sleep under the stars enjoying God’s creation. It was a beautiful evening.

    I prayed with my campmates each evening and with the girls and no one was uncomfortable thanking the Lord for these beautiful girls bestowed on us to protect and nurture and love. The girls played games, sang songs and made new friends- many of different faiths at that. The moms got along great. This is what I was hoping AHG would be like. It is normal, middle American fun.

    I also get along great with my fellow GSUSA leaders at my church. They have actually assisted me in my efforts to bring AHG to our parish. They are toughening up and fighting the battle to change the tides of GSUSA. If they fail, I will welcome them with open arms into my troop. I am 43 and instead of taking on a battle, I want to have fun and raise my girls NOW. Like many, I have walked away from GSUSA and am focusing my time and energy NOW. AHG is what you make it. I pray for my GSUSA leader friends every day, however, they are losing precious time with their daughters.

    I pray for a turn around for GSUSA and I do sincerely hope they get their act together and become a real healthy competition for American Heritage Girls. Go to our website: http://www.ahgonline.org and check us out.
    We are having a blast. After you are finished, go to the above frontier girl website. Anything look familiar?? Good grief. My mother always said being copied was the best compliment, but this is ridiculous and sad.

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  32. This is a bit unnerving to me, especially since this is the first time I have heard or read about any of this. I did check out the GSUSA website and they do indicate working with the Oxford Leadership Academy, but nothing about Ashland Institue. They do mention a Leader to Leader Academy.

    Our local council (and maybe others?) use an Ashdon Farms as our supplier for the Fall Fundraiser. Could there be a misunderstanding?

    I really want more information on this before I start my daughter’s on this new program. Since we are independent Girl Scouts, we are really getting no information from our council or other troops.

    Thanks.

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  33. Ashdon Farms and the Ashland Institute are definitely separate entities. The following information seems to have been removed from the current GSUSA website, but this is still accessible via this link: http://www.girlscouts.org/strategy/leadership_from_the_inside_out.asp

    GSUSA Partners with The Ashland Institute
    On August 20-23, 2007, program facilitators from Girl Scouts of Arizona Cactus-Pine Council and The Ashland Institute, an Oregon-based organization that specializes in personal development programs for women, led 29 council volunteers and staff, National Operational Volunteers (NOVs), and GSUSA staff in “Coming Into Your Own” (CIYO) at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. Additional CIYO meetings will be conducted in November and February 2008 at the Conference Center.

    Coming Into Your Own is an adult leadership development program customized for Girl Scouts by The Ashland Institute. Its aim is to create a team of adult champions who will model a search for integrated leadership that springs from a deep sense of self-knowledge. This team will bring its CIYO experience into the fabric of GSUSA’s 2008 Spring conferences where participants will have the opportunity to explore the Discover, Connect and Take Action components of the New Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

    By infusing parts of CIYO, participants will get to explore the “how” of the New Leadership Experience for girls as well as the “what” as members of the movement prepare to embrace the girl-led, experiential and collaborative leadership experience for girls.

    Infusing Interior Leadership
    A first step in “infusing interior leadership” in the Girl Scout movement, the Coming Into Your Own program guides participants as they:

    Explore ages and stages unique to women’s lives
    Review their own lives as well as share and witness in small groups
    Understand different archetypal dimensions of themselves
    Identify and strengthen undeveloped capabilities
    Use a “symbols process” to see each person’s current situation from different archetypal perspectives and reshape them to release potential that is emerging
    Identify important intentions they would like to make real in their lives
    Enhancing Girl Scout Adult Leadership

    As Tamara J. Woodbury, CEO at Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, wrote about the purpose of enhancing Girl Scout adult leadership, “The world around young women teaches them to focus their attention on their exterior, giving over-weighted value to the opinions of others versus their opinion about themselves. In most schools, youth groups, religious communities and even families, we unintentionally discourage girls from discovering their true self. Research shows that the drive to support girls to conform to acceptable images and to make life choices that are predictable and defer to social expectations overpowers even the most conscientious parents, teachers and mentors.”

    Transformative Circle
    The Ashland Institute’s approach works with the whole individual—the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions—to encourage deeper introspection. Facilitators combine the attention of one-on-one relationship with small-group work and the transforming power of the circle. They employ short presentations, dialogues, video, journaling, archetypes and symbols to address aspects of life such as work, relationships, health and family.

    Program facilitators Barbara Cecil, Glennifer Gillespie, Beth Jandernoa of The Ashland Institute and Tamara Woodbury, CEO at Girl Scouts-Arizona, Cactus-Pine Council, have been leading innovative and successful women’s programs for over 25 years. Small-group guides Maria Ort (Board Chair for Arizona-Cactus Pine Council), Mary Mitchell (Volunteer Recruitment manager at Arizona-Cactus Pine Council), Jo Norris (volunteer with Arizona-Cactus Pine Council), and Ashland Institute consultants Peri Chickering, Dorian Baroni and Christine Whitney-Sanchez, who have extensive experience in leadership and personal development work, led as well. The Ashland Institute has supported Arizona Cactus-Pine Council since May 2006 in the development of an inner leadership approach for staff, volunteers and elders.

    For more about Coming Into Your Own and the work of The Ashland Institute, visit http://www.ashlandinstitute.org.

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  34. I am not sure what to say. I have read this entire saga and can not believe some of the comments. I have been in scouts for numerous years both as a girl and a leader, council trainer, SU chair and I agree there has been some changes, but it would be a dull world if there was never any changes made. We need change to grow and learn. Life today is nothing like it was in 1912 so why should the Girl Scout program be the same. Girl Scouts still teach the same values that Juliette Low taught, only they have been modernized. The programs, as with all of life is interpreted differently by each individual. What you read into a sentence may not be the same as what I read. I have always taught the girls in my troops that they can be anything they want to be, that they can achieve any goal they set, that they are the only one who can tell them what to believe or what they can accomplish. I have always (and still do) interprete the Girl Scout policy that we are making leaders of the girls, whether it be leaders in the way they run their home, the community, or the nation. Self esteem is a good thing to teach, because you have to believe in yourself before anyone else will believe in you. If you look at yourself as a failure, then everyone else will look at you as a failure. I have brought several girls who thought they were ugly, or unlikeable to girls who found their inner beauty and are now some of the best loved people I know. I am a Girl Scout and always will be. My girls always went to church in uniform on GS Sunday. In fact one year we attended 3 services that day, because we had girls from 3 different religious backgrounds, so as a troop we put on our uniforms and attended services at all 3 churches. The next meeting the girls all wanted to talk about the differences in the services. They all learned a great lesson that day, one I think helped them grow. Girl Scouts is not just one religion, nothing says that you have to be a Christian to be a Girl Scout. It just sounds to me that a lot of you are just nit picking cause you have nothing better to do with your time.

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  35. Caring, Empathy, knowing oneself -Absolutely! These qualities, among others, postively make a great leader. According to Jungian thought these qualities are feminine, not having anything to do with gender. And, according to Christian thought we were all created in God’s image- So, yes we are all divine. Namaste'(sanskrit word meaning the divine spark in me recognizes the divine spark in you) BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO to the Girls Scouts!!!!!

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  36. While this whole discussion about “New Age” beliefs vs. traditional religion are interesting, I think it’s bypassing the heart of the matter.

    My radar went off a couple of years ago when I first learned of the impending council merger. We were assured that it was necessary for the financial survival of GSUSA. Thus, the “corporatizing” of the organization. Rumor has it that the upper echelon now earns some of the highest corporate salaries in the country!

    While we weren’t one of the first councils to merge, we weren’t the last, either. Yet, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for “working out the bugs.” Bring five regions together with five ways of doing things, and they cannot find the least common factor in their procedures. Instead, they seem to have bundled their procedures together, jumbled them, and now we’re all being smothered in red tape.

    Leaders are overwhelmed by so many new rules. Service Teams are frustrated by having to educate the leaders about so many procedures at once, having received very little useful training themselves. (“Training sessions” were little more than PR hype with no actual nitty gritty training.) Council Staff is overtaxed–traveling among many regional offices, with little time spent at their own desks. They don’t even answer the phone directly anymore–calls are automatically directed to voice mail.

    This disconnectedness has caused an atmosphere of stress and frustration amongst everyone involved. Perhaps it will level out eventually, but I fear that the attitude of Staff members will never be quite as friendly and helpful as it once was. The grassroots green neck bond has been replaced with “business-attire” stiffness.

    The filter-down effect has been that the Service Area Team now shoulders much more of the responsibility. This is especially true when angry leaders cannot reach someone at Council. In my opinion, our Service Area Manager spends an amount of time equivalent to a full-time job fulfilling her duties. Yet no mention has ever been made about converting the highest-level volunteer position to a paid position!

    I understand the complications of a merger, and the power struggles that ensue. What I’m experiencing is something more–a change in attitude and direction, and one with which I’m not pleased.

    As for girl programming…Studio 2B was introduced in 2000. How was that program developed? Market researchers interviewed girls who were NOT Girl Scouts, and asked what they would like to see in a program. What kind of awards would they like to earn? (The theory was that girls were no longer interested in wearing uniforms with patches and badges.) Since the fad that year was charm bracelets, the girls voted for charms. Hmmm…marketing research, input from “cool” girls, up-to-the-minute awards. Destined to be a hit, right? Wrong. Why do you think it failed? Because true Girl Scouts were interested in a more traditional program. Whether they always wore their uniforms or not, they still enjoyed earning patches and badges, and had no use for cheap charms that broke as soon as you wore them. As for the Studio 2B materials–what troop could afford to purchase individual packets for each girl (at approx. $5.50 apiece) several times a year? And what girl wanted to do mandatory journaling of her progress? It was too much like homework!

    Even so, we as leaders, were assured that Studio 2B was strictly optional. It would be used in conjunction with the traditional handbooks and badge books. Before we knew it, though, the materials had become mandatory as part of the requirements for both the Silver and Gold Awards! My best guess is that once the national office realized they were stuck with a lemon, they had to unload all those packets without suffering too much of a loss.

    Now we have the “Journeys.” While I haven’t seen those for the youngest age levels, I have read through the Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador books. (By the way, the older girls–formerly “Seniors,” resent losing their title, only to be given one that sounds decidedly political.)

    “New Age” comments aside, the programs seem to be a re-working of what the girls have done all along. The “new” mantra of “Discover. Connect. Take Action.” is nothing more than what girls would do to earn a badge. They’d learn a new skill, master it and create something in the process.

    What IS different, though, is the focus of the skills. The Ambassadors learn about women who changed the world (not much different from some of the older badges), and then they are taught to be advocates. This still doesn’t sound too bad, because it will hone leadership skills. But to force them to journal yet again, and make a Board Room presentation is asking too much. Demanding that their efforts be “sustainable”–an ongoing outcome, is even more difficult. The outcomes are more difficult, and the process more tedious. “Modernized” or not, my troop evaluated the materials and weren’t at all interested in them.

    Leadership is an admirable quality, but I think GSUSA is forgetting that mastering “old-fashioned” skills such as sewing, cooking and camping, and then teaching those skills to younger girls develops leadership, too. And courage. And confidence. And character.

    The fact that the “Journeys” books run $7 for the girls’ edition and an additional $15 for the leader’s guide is ridiculous. The set that came out this year is planned as only the first of about 5 per age level, too.

    This seems to be an obvious bid for income. And what will happen when the national office realizes it has an albatross to go along with the studio 2B lemon? You guessed it–make the “Journeys” programs mandatory to unload the inventory.

    Rumor has it that the handbooks and badge books will be discontinued altogether in 2010! I’m just thankful that my troop will have graduated by then…

    And thus we have the heart of the matter. Programming will always be updated. Procedures will always change. Change is not necessarily a bad thing. But to go outside the organization, and hire marketing specialists to rework the GSUSA “brand” is self-defeating if that “brand” reeks of commercialism. Whatever happened to frugality and being thrifty? Why do we now have directives regarding mandatory uniforms? It used to be that if you wore your pins, you were considered to be in uniform. To dictate such a policy in the midst of an economic downswing is ludicrous! To push new, expensive programming materials is effrontery!

    It’s not just the new programming, but also the restructuring of the entire organization that is off-kilter. Hopefully, GSUSA can realize that marketing specialists are not gurus, and that such outsiders may not “get” what Girl Scouts is all about. If the powers that be can realize that, maybe they can recover before it’s too late, and camp properties that have been GSUSA owned for many years must be sold to pay for this latest faux pas.

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  37. Did you use to do a grogram, “Girls Rules” about forty years ago? I am trying to find some people who use to do radio programs from those days. You are doing a great job, otherwise.

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  38. Well, it’s me, Sharon again, American Heritage Girl Coordinator and now leader of soon to be 8 girls with a total of 34 girls who love being an American Heritage Girl! We just finished the Emergency Preparedness Badge which required CPR training and self defense, first aid and other skill sets. Police officers taught the girls some great self defense moves. Gee, when I was their age, I know there is no way I could have protected myself. To see their confidence, gave me an inner strength and resolve: I have done the right thing by taking my daughter out of Girl Scouts. It was the hardest thing I ever did. I am at peace now, because I truly know that I am following the Lord by being a good role model, along with 10 other parents and leaders who are like minded. We are part of a Pro-Life organization. Girls who are members do not have to be Christian. It is our hope that by being with girls who love God that they will come to know HIM and that he loves them very much for all their faults and humanity. My previous inner struggle of knowing that my daughter was previously selling cookies and I was paying dues to support a program that was holding hands with the likes of Planned Parenthood and embracing cultish gurus, selling gay/lesbian sex as “perfectly normal” to our cherished young 12 year olds was truly making me feel less of a person back then. I felt less than who I wanted to be and less of what Christ was calling me to be. I know my grandmas would have been ashamed of me back then, but proud of me now. Our girls deserve better, and I am praying that these crazies get replaced by some of you who are truly wonderful women in these blogs, and should be the leaders of this organization. The girls these days get enough mixed messages from the media, why do they have to put up with it? Honestly, I have had enough and have just turned the TV off and spending time with my girls, while they are young and think the world of me. I am getting ready to show my unit (working on the OUR Flag badge)a movie about Women at War. They need to learn about women patriots during the Civil War times, for without knowing our country’s sufferage history, I really don’t think they can appreciate their freedoms and their full OWN potential as our future citizens. In October, I took them hiking to Hocking Hills with a group of about 100 other girls (7th grade and up) they viewed our beautiful parks. They pitched tents, they sawed wood, they learned to cook over a fire. They hiked, they were exhausted. They saw a beautiful world that I hope they will want to protect someday. They earned the Outdoor Skills badge, they were awarded in front of 30 other little girls in our troop who now look up to them and want to be like them. These girls want to talk to us moms, about their fears about their dreams and that is pretty hard to do when we are throwing weird books at them and asking them to write about a subject that they really don’t understand. These are our girls, they are our future. Empower them with the love of Christ to lead our generations away from the false profits that these cults surely are trying to sell to our girls. Turn away from Girl Scouts or better yet, GO ON STRIKE until you get what you want, leaders. Take hard action! Your girls deserve better- for your time talent and efforts deserve better. HIT THEM WHERE IT HURTS- THEIR POCKETBOOKS! Go to http://www.ahgonline.org and make a donation or join our cause! God Bless our girls, every one.

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  39. Not sure why yahoo sent me to this blog but I should probably I have been certainly entertained by the information you have pulled together. How long did it take that many WWW users hitting to your pages? I am pretty new to all this.

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  40. Good day, I don’t go along with everything in this write-up, but you do make some very decent points. I’m very serious in this matter and I myself do alot of research as well. Either way it was a well thoughtout and nice read so I figured I would leave you a comment.

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  41. We had been really urged to locate this website. I needed in order to thanks with this unique study. We certainly savored each and every little this as well as I’ve a person saved to look at brand new things a person publish.

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