Print this chapter

GSNorCal Volunteer Essentials


Quick Links to GIRL SCOUT PROGRAM Chapter Topics: The Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) | Five Benefits for Girls | Take Action Projects | Advocacy Projects | Program Content Areas | National Program Resources | National Leadership Journeys | Girl's Guide to Badges and Skill Building | Girl Scout Bronze, Silver & Gold Awards | Other National Awards | Emblems, Insignia, & Patches | Other Program Resources | What Girls Do in Girl Scouting | Outdoor Experiences | Camps: Day & Resident | Product Program | Trips & Travel | Girl Scout Traditions, Celebrations & Ceremonies | Girl Scout Heritage |

dot border


Now that you’re a Girl Scout volunteer, you belong to a network of more than 1 million adults who share an important commitment: preparing girls to lead successful lives. During your time as a volunteer, you’ll have fun, meet new people, and learn by doing alongside girls at every step.

90% of parents say their daughter is more confident through GS 95% GS have more friends 95% volunteers make girls' lives better

dot border

What Girl Scouting Does for Girls

At Girl Scouts, guided by supportive adults and peers, girls develop their leadership potential through age-appropriate activities that enable them to discover their values, skills, and the world around them; connect with others in a multicultural environment; and take action to make a difference in their world. These activities are designed to be girl led, cooperative, and hands-on—processes that create high-quality experiences conducive to learning.

Girl Scouts’ mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Since 1912, girls have explored new fields of knowledge, learned valuable skills, and developed strong core values through Girl Scouts. Today Girl Scouts is, as it always has been, the organization best positioned to help girls develop important leadership skills they need to become successful adults.

Girl Scouting guides girls to become leaders in their daily lives, their communities, and the world—helping them become the kind of person exemplified by the Girl Scout Law. When girls—as the Girl Scout Law states—are “honest and fair,” when they “use resources wisely,” and know how to be “courageous and strong,” they can be more successful in everything they do. It may start in school and on sports teams, but research shows that the courage, confidence, and character they develop as Girl Scouts follows them throughout their lives.

Girl Scouting has a practical approach to helping girls become leaders:

  • When girls lead in their own lives, they Discover their values and the confidence to do what’s right. This helps girls act in ways that make us proud, no matter where they are.
  • When girls lead in their communities, they Connect as they learn how to work with other people. This helps them get along better with others, resolve conflicts, and do better on group projects at school.
  • When girls lead in the world, they Take Action to change the world for the better. Starting as young Girl Scouts, girls learn how to see problems—such as a food pantry in need of donations or an elderly neighbor who could use a hand—and come up with a solution.

In other words: Discover + Connect + Take Action = Leadership. And everything you do with girls in Girl Scouting is aimed at giving them the benefits of these Three Keys to Leadership.

infographic - benefits of Girl Scouting


dot border


The Girl Scout program—what girls do in Girl Scouting and how they do it—is based on the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE), a national model that helps girls become leaders in their own lives and as they grow. No matter where girls live or what their age or background, as Girl Scouts they are part of a powerful, national experience. As they build leadership skills, they also develop lifelong friendships and earn meaningful awards, two of many treasured traditions in the sisterhood of Girl Scouting.

Girl Scouting isn’t just about what the girls do; it’s also about how they do it. Over time, we’ve noticed that girls will give almost any activity a try, as long as the adults guiding them take the right approach. Girl Scout activities ask adult volunteers to engage girls in three ways that make Girl Scouting unique from school and other extracurricular activities.

What Girls Do, and How They Do It

The three leadership keys describe What Girls Do

The Girl Scout Processes describe How They Do It

Girls explore many different topics but don’t just learn about them, they also discover their own value towards complex challenges in the world as they discover many different points of view around a topic. They then begin to wonder how they can make a difference. 
Girls of every grade level take an active role in determining what, where, when, why, and how they’ll structure activities. Of course, you’ll provide guidance appropriate to the age of the girls. Plus, you’ll encourage them to bring their ideas and imaginations into the experiences, make choices, and lead the way as much as they can.
These activities are based on two things. First, the process of cooperative learning in which  girls can understand other’s point of view and how that affects the community they live in as well as solutions to complex challenges. They also learn about different solutions by working with a team of girls to explore how to best use their individual interest and talents to work together.
Cooperative learning
Girls learn so much about themselves and each other when they team up on common goals. Plus, great teamwork helps girls in school now and on the job later. Look for ways to help each girl contribute her unique talents and ideas to the team, help all girls see how their differences are valuable to the team, and coach girls to resolve their conflicts productively.
Take Action
These activities help girls to make meaningful change in their community—the best possible way to build their sense of empowerment and independence.  Take Action activities are not just actively doing something like going to a children’s museum, but give them the opportunity to create lasting impact together and individually.
Learning by doing
This means that girls have active, hands-on experiences. It also means they have a chance to think and talk about what they are learning as a result of the activities. This kind of reflection is what helps girls gain self-awareness and confidence to dive into new challenges. So make sure girls always have a chance to talk with each other—and you—after an activity. It doesn’t have to be formal, just get them talking and see what happens.

The Girl Scout program is designed to help girls build the skills they need to lead and thrive today and be ready for tomorrow. They do so through engaging, hands on activities that foster an environment for girls to build lasting friendships and have fun. Guided by supportive adults and peers, girls develop their leadership potential through activities that enable them to 

  • Discover their values, skills, and the world around them;
  • Connect with others in a multicultural environment; and
  • Take Action to make a difference in their world.

Girls will thrive in this exploration when it is girl led, allowing them a place to try on their own leadership, take risks safely as they learn by doing independently and as a team. Through cooperative learning girls will learn
how to work together, learn differently from each other and help each other through the stages of project planning and execution.

You might be wondering how to put these processes into action with the girls in your group. These steps should help you get started:

  1. After you help girls choose a National Leadership Journey [PROGRAM: National Leadership Journeys], make sure you get the adult guide that accompanies the Journey. As you read through that guide, look at how the activities, conversations, and choice-making options are set up using the three processes. Once you start practicing the processes, you’ll probably find that they become second nature when you’re with girls.
  2. If you haven’t already, watch the Welcome Video. (You should receive a link to the video by email when you register).
  3. Want more detail about the processes? Watch Having Fun with Purpose to see the processes in action.

One last tip about using the processes: The girls’ time in Girl Scouting isn’t a to-do list, so please don’t ever feel that checking activities off a list or completing badge requirements is more important than tuning in to what interests and excites girls and sparks their imaginations. Projects don’t have to come out perfectly, and girls don’t have to fill their vests and sashes with badges: what matters most is the fun and learning that happens as girls make experiences their own.


dot border

Five Benefits for Girls

When girls participate in Girl Scouts, they develop five important outcomes:

GSLE Model with outcomes

5 Ways Girl Scouts Builds Girl Leaders

When girls participate in Girl Scouts, they benefit in 5 important ways:

icon strong sense of self

1. Strong Sense of Self

Girls have confidence in themselves and their abilities, and form positive identities.


  1. Girls like me can be leaders.
  2. Girls like me can do important things.
  3. Girls like me can be good at many different things.

Positive Identity:

  1. I am happy with myself most of the time.
  2. I really like the way I look.
  3. I am glad I am me.
icon - positive values

2. Positive Values

Girls act ethically, honestly, and responsibly, and show concern for others.


  1. I take responsibility for my actions when I
    make a mistake
  2. I do what is right, even when it is hard.
  3. I tell the truth, even when it is not easy.


  1. When I see someone being taken advantage of, I want to help them.
  2. When I see someone being picked on, I feel sad.
  3. When I see another person who is hurt or upset, I want to make them feel better.
icon - challenge seeking

3. Challenge Seeking

Girls learn to take appropriate risks, try things even if they might fail, and learn from mistakes.

  1. I try things even if I may not be good at them.
  2. I don’t give up, even when things are hard.
  3. Even if I am afraid of making mistakes, I still try new things.
Outcome Healthy Relationships

4. Healthy Relationships

Girls develop and maintain healthy relationships by communicating their feelings directly and resolving conflicts constructively.

  1. If my friend makes me angry, I can talk to them about it.
  2. When someone does a good job, I tell them.
  3. I listen to people even when I disagree with them.
icon community problem solving

5. Community Problem Solving

Girls desire to contribute to the world in purposeful and meaningful ways, learn how to identify problems in the community, and create “action plans” to solve them.

Civic Orientation

  1. I want to make the world a better place to
    live in.
  2. It is important for me to make a difference
    in my community.
  3. I know what my community needs to
    become a better place.

Civic Engagement

  1. I pay attention to what my community
  2. When I see a problem in my community, I
    figure out who can help me solve it.
  3. When I see a problem in my community, I
    think of many ways to solve it.

Girls experience these benefits through participating in age-appropriate activities that are girl-led, cooperative and hands-on. This means girls and adults:

  • make decisions together about what to do and how to do it
  • work collaboratively as a team, and
  • learn by actively reflecting on experiences that are relevant to them.

There are many tools available to support girls and adults in Girl Scouts including Badges, Activities and Experiences, Fall and Cookie sales, Journeys and leadership opportunities, outdoor experiences and adventures, and trips and travel. 

Why do these 5 outcomes matter?

When a girl develops these 5 outcomes, she’ll become…

  • A girl who stands up for herself and believes she can do anything
  • A girl who is honest, reliable and caring
  • A girl who isn’t afraid to go outside of her comfort zone
  • A girl who gets along with and works well with others
  • A girl who is an active and engaged citizen

Youth who develop these five outcomes...


dot border

Girl Scouts Participating in Activities with Other Scouting Organizations

The decision by Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to open the Boy Scout program to girls has fundamentally altered the nature of the relationship between BSA and Girl Scouts nationally and locally. Local relationships between BSA and Girl Scout councils that have led to partnerships and joint activities in the past will now expose our membership enrollment and brand to risks. This may mean that the relationship between a council and its BSA counterpart should fundamentally change. 

Marketplace Confusion. To protect the integrity of the Girl Scout brand and reinforce our programming as unique, girl-only, and best in class, we must ensure that we take care that the activities in which girls participate are exclusive to the Girl Scout program, are safe and girl led, and are conducted under the appropriate supervision of Girl Scouts. Participation of Girl Scouts in activities with other scouting organizations creates risks to Girl Scouts. Confusion is in the marketplace regarding the relationship between Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts by the expansion of Boy Scouts to include girls in their programs. Girl Scout participation in Boy Scout activities will increase that confusion and will contribute to the misperception that Girl Scouts has merged, or is somehow interchangeable, with Boy Scouts. 

Brand. Associating with organizations who do not have similar brand history, program portfolio, and track record for safety dilutes and tarnishes our brand, and allows Boy Scouts to leverage the reputation of Girl Scouts for their own purposes. 

Guidelines. Girl Scouts may participate in community activities (including, but not limited to; street fairs, town fairs and carnivals, church fairs, community college nights, back to school nights, after school carnivals, and the like) as Girl Scouts, wearing Girl Scout uniform elements and as individuals. Attendance by Boy Scouts and/or Scouting BSA side by side at community events is expected. Girl Scout troops who wish to participate in NON-recruitment events sponsored by Boy Scouts and/or Scouting BSA may do so at their discretion, but must identify as Girl Scouts, wearing sashes and/or vests, and/or clothing identifying them as Girl Scouts. 

Girl Scouts of Northern California will not insure any shared activities sponsored by Boy Scouts and/or Scouting BSA, as these are forbidden. This includes Pinewood Derby, Camporees, and the like. (If a girl has a brother or other family member, or friend participating in these activities, she may attend to support them, but not in an official Girl Scout capacity.) Additionally, Girl Scouts of Northern California will not provide additional medical insurance (Plan 2) to cover Boy Scout who are also participating. 

Brand Guidelines. In cases where signage is being created representing multiple groups participating in a community activity, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts/Scouts BSA are to be represented by two different logos, side by side. Girl Scouts is NOT to be represented under Scouts BSA. 

TOP ↑ 

dot border

Take Action Projects

Take Action is one of the three leadership keys in Girl Scouting, and each Journey culminates in a Take Action Project. While community service projects will always have a place in Girl Scouting, girls deserve the benefits of the full Girl Scout Leadership Experience by having the opportunity to do Take Action projects. Through participating in Take Action projects, girls really do have the opportunity to change the world!

Community Service Projects Take Action Projects

Addresses a one-time need

Addresses the root cause of a problem

Example: A one time food drive. (People will be hungry again when the food is gone). Nearly 4 million Californians are food insecure, which means that they have limited access or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate food. Example: One of the root causes of hunger is that not enough stores accept food stamps (EBT from the CalFresh program). Girls might identify a store in an impacted area and work with them to adopt the food stamps to make nutritious food available.
Example: Beach cleanup (litter will accumulate again) Example: Beach cleanup with a publicity campaign of the quantity and types of litter picked up to educate the public

We have a proud tradition in Girl Scouting of being a service organization—one that has provided countless hours of valuable service to local and broader communities. However, when questioned about the “Take Action outcomes” girls are consistently reporting that, while they believe that girls can make a difference in the world, they don’t see themselves personally in this way.

We are faced with the challenge of finding ways to help girls raise the bar from simply performing community service to truly taking action and making a difference in the world.

A Take Action Project has three qualities:

  1. It is a sustainable solution—it addresses the root cause of the issue in some way so as to make a lasting impact When girls create a change that directly addresses the root cause of the problem, the project could almost always be considered sustainable. Sustainable means that there is lasting effect, it does not necessarily mean that somebody has to continue the project yearly. As an example; a beach clean up is a community service project, because the beach is just going to get dirty again. But a beach cleanup could be a Take Action Project if other people were educated and inspired to act. For example, you could place informational signs to educate people about why they should throw out trash and provide trash cans for them to use. This creates lasting change.
  2. It makes a measurable impact—girls identify their project goals for their community, target audience, and themselves by developing success indicators so that they can see the impact they’ve had.
  3. It is girl-led. The girls (even the youngest girls) need to be involved in the planning and carrying out of the project—not just showing up and participating.

These aspects of a Take Action project may seem like lofty ideals that are not possible for girls to achieve. However, like almost anything else in Girl Scouting, the idea is to start small and think about providing stepping stones for our youngest girls so that they are ready for ever larger steps as they get older. And, it’s always easier to ensure that you arrive at your destination if you know ahead of time where you are planning to go!  Journeys for all grade levels walk girls through the process of doing Take Action projects in age-appropriate ways.

Community Service Projects

Does all this mean that there is no place for community service projects in Girl Scouting? Absolutely not! These projects can provide girls with experience so that they can later take action themselves. Service Projects are a great first step toward helping girls to do their Take Action projects.  “To do a good turn daily” is an important part of the Girl Scout philosophy, and all troops and groups are encouraged to seek out opportunities for service. Service projects may involve helping other people, animals or our environment. Girls should be encouraged to plan, promote and participate in service projects for the joy and satisfaction of helping others rather than to earn something for themselves. GSNorCal offers a variety of patch programs. It is important to be mindful that receiving these patches should be a welcome surprise for girls, not
a motivating force.

Council-Wide Service Projects

Each year, GSNorCal coordinates a variety of council-wide service projects open to troops and groups throughout the council. Information on council sponsored service projects will be available at your service unit leader meetings and in the GSNorCal Program and Events Guide or on our website:

Planning Your Own Service Project? Girls and adults should feel free to use their local community contacts to design community service projects (or Take Action projects) that are of interest to them.

Choose A Take Action Project

  1. Identify an issue or problem you want to take action on. Always start here, rather than thinking of a project and then trying to find someone who needs it.
  2. Investigate thoroughly to ensure it is a problem/issue.
  3. Identify root causes of the issue or problem.
  4. Brainstorm possible solutions that address  a root cause.
  5. Assess your resources.
  6. Create a realistic plan, including a timeline.
  7. Spread the word— and solicit help from the people you need.

Feeling stuck and just can't some up with a project? Reach out to others! Ask students and teachers at your school what problems they have seen in the community. What would they like to change? What are some of the hot issues that you have read about in your local papers or seen on local news programs? You may want to invite guest speakers from community organizations, or take a trip to visit their facilities.

For inspiration, check out the Map It! Interactive map that shows how Girl Scouts all over are changing the world at Whether it’s Gold Awards, Silver Awards, Bronze Awards, Forever Green, or Journey Take Action projects, browse what girls are doing around the country! It’s a great way to get inspiration for your Girl Scout year or just see what other girls are doing to change the world! Map It! features Take Action projects, not service projects.

One of the hardest things is to avoid giving the girls a list of projects to choose from.  But they will really miss out if they don’t get to go through the process themselves.  If you find yourself wanting to rush the process or solve the problems or do the planning, resolve to only ask questions.  Instead of “That won’t work—we’ll have to do it this way” ask “How do you think we should find out if it’s OK if we do this project?” or “Do we have all the important information on the flyer?”  These leading questions will help the girls think through the process.  Finally, trust the process— even the youngest girls can come up with some ideas of issues and solutions.

Sustainable Take Action Projects

Pass It On: Choose a Journey activity that you participated in. Think about who else could benefit from doing the same activity. For example, get permission to lead a special lunchtime (or early morning or after-school) session for kids who are interested in learning how to create a personal budget. Adjust the activity for your audience. Enhance your project’s sustainability by leaving behind a tip sheet or activity kit for teachers or other employees.

Pass It Down: Assist younger girls by educating them about your issue and solution. Organize a mini-workshop by adapting the Journey activities or games for younger girls. Organize a “get ready for middle school” session for girls in elementary school.

Increase Adult Awareness: Do you think adults could be savvier about global warming issues? Organize a workshop for adults on ways to reduce the causes of climate change, including changes they can make in their homes and daily lives. Encourage them to think  about how they can pass their ideas on!

Spread the Word: On a website or the radio or in print, develop a “miniseries” or  awareness campaign of an issue you explored.


dot border

    Advocacy Projects

    Girls may decide to engage in advocacy activities as part of their Take Action Projects.  The laws governing nonprofit organizations draw a distinction between lobbying activities and electioneering activities. While GSUSA encourages members to actively work with and lobby their public officials on policy issues, it is important to remember that any type of electioneering in your official Girl Scout capacity is prohibited. Electioneering is defined as participating in the electoral process by promoting particular candidates for office. Such activity is a direct violation of the tax law that governs non-profit organizations. You may, however, campaign on behalf of a political candidate as an individual without reference to your role as a Girl Scout leader.

    Nonprofit organizations are allowed to educate elected officials or other government officials about issues that are important to them. In your capacity as a Girl Scout representative, you may communicate with elected officials and their staff members in order to influence action on specific legislation, encouraging them either to enact it or defeat it. As a Girl Scout representative, you can write letters to members of congress and/or their staff, visit them, send e-mails, or make phone calls about their legislative interests or pending legislation. However, if you are in communication with an elected official during his or her re-election campaign, you must be very careful that your actions aren’t misconstrued as an endorsement.

    The official GSUSA policy on electioneering is as follows:
    Political and Legislative Activity: Girl Scouts of the United States of America and any Girl Scout council or other organization holding a Girl Scouts of the United States of America credential may not, nor may they authorize anyone on their behalf to, participate or intervene directly or indirectly in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office; or participates in any legislative activity or function which contravenes the laws governing tax-exempt organizations. (Blue Book of Basic Documents 2015).

    The Girl Scouts Advocacy Network provides a tool for you to become the voice for girls and to make a difference in your community and across the nation.

    n.  Public support for or recommendation
    of a particular cause or policy 
    n.  To work for the success of a particular candidate, party, ticket, etc. in an election

    Advocacy/Lobbying Activities (Allowed)

    It IS acceptable for Girl Scout staff and volunteers to engage in the following activities:

    • Write, visit, or call your Members of Congress, Governor, state legislator and all other local policy makers in support or opposition to legislation, especially when Girl Scout or girl issues arise.
    • Keep your members of congress, Governor, state legislators and all other local policy makers informed about of your council’s work. For example, you may continue to mail to your elected officials newsletters, key press releases, fact sheets, annual reports, and other relevant council publications with your position on legislative proposals (including ballot measures) and other public issues.
    • Invite your elected officials to major council events, such as Gold Award ceremonies or other community events, hosted by your council as long as the elected official is clear that they are invited in his or her capacity as an elected official, not as a candidate, and cannot use their speaking time as an election-related platform. It is a good practice to send a letter to the elected official prior to the event reminding them that your Girl Scouts council is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization that cannot support or oppose candidates and that he or she cannot mention their candidacy, hand out campaign literature, or use speaking time to discuss their election platform.
    • Participate in and host “get out the vote” registration drives. Registration may not be limited to a particular political party or on behalf of a specific political party
      or candidate.

    It IS acceptable for Girl Scout staff and volunteers to teach girls about the election process by encouraging them to participate in the following activities:

    • Going to the polls with an adult on election day.
    • Collecting signatures of members in their community who promise that they will vote on election day such as participating in the “I Promise a Girl Scout I Will Vote” campaign and publicizing the efforts.
    • Stage a public candidate debate on a wide range of issues concerning girls that the candidates would address if elected to the office and that are of interest to the public.
    • Equally attend Republican and Democratic candidate events in Girl Scout uniform and ask candidates questions about issues that are important to girls and publicize the responses.  

    Electioneering Activities
    (Not Allowed)

    GSUSA respects that Girl Scout staff and volunteers may hold strong political convictions concerning upcoming elections; however, it is crucial that you adhere to the GSUSA policy. Participation in electioneering as Girl Scouts could result in the loss of our 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this topic, please contact the GSUSA Public Policy and Advocacy Office at (212) 659-3780 or

    Below is a list of electioneering examples. This list is not exhaustive and if at any point you are uncertain as to what constitutes electioneering, contact your local Girl Scout
    legal counsel.  When acting as a Girl Scout representative, a Girl Scout council staff person, volunteer or young Girl Scout may NOT engage in the following prohibited
    electoral activity:

    • Endorse any candidate for public office. This includes social media functions that may be viewed as endorsement, such as “liking,” “friending,” or “following” a candidate.
    • Influence in any way the nomination or election of someone to a federal, state or local public office or to an office in a political organization, including by publishing or communicating anything that explicitly or implicitly favors or opposes a candidate..
    • Mobilize constituents to support or defeat a candidate.
    • Use official Girl Scout letterhead, office email, or computers to write in support or opposition of a candidate or any statements that favor or oppose candidates, or let a political candidate use any council office space or property for
      a campaign event.
    • Distribute campaign materials, including flyers, postcards, newsletters and signage.
    • Post, tweet, retweet, or otherwise share on social media any posts, tweets, or other materials from a candidate, campaign or political organization, or any statements that favor or oppose candidates.
    • Share the link to a website that discusses specific candidates and their views on specific issues.
    • Post political statements on personal social media accounts that identify your employment organization without clarifying that the post is not work-related.
    • Provide an email list to candidates, political parties or politically active 501 (c)(4) organizations.
    • Coordinate or host council site visits, activities or other functions with a candidate running for office.
    • Participate in any election events or activities, including a campaign parade or rally.
    • Host a flag ceremony to open a political campaign event.
    • Provide public opinions about a candidate.
    • Wear official Girl Scouts uniforms or other insignia to a political campaign event or fundraiser, even during non-work hours.
    • Wear campaign buttons on the Girl Scout uniform at any time, as well as on non-Girl Scout apparel, while conducting official Girl Scout business.
    • Make financial contributions to candidates or political parties on behalf of Girl Scouts, meaning any payment, loan, deposit, gift, or other transfer of anything of value.
    • Ask candidates to endorse the Girl Scouts platform and publicize the responses (but feel free to urge all candidates and the public to invest in girls and make girls a priority).
    • In addition, be careful if you are considering posting, retweeting or otherwise sharing news video of a candidate talking about the Girl Scouts, to lessen the risk of an implicit endorsement. A candidate may speak favorably about the Girl Scouts. You cannot control what candidates say, but circulating their statements creates a risk that the Girl Scouts will be viewed as promoting that candidate.

    NOTE: It is acceptable for individuals to participate in the above activities as long as they do not do so in their capacity as a Girl Scout.

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    What Girls Do

    Girl Scouts focuses on the following content areas to enrich the Girl Scout experience for girls that follow the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. A few examples are listed here, and you can find out how to engage your group in opportunities like these by visiting

    Girl Scout logo

    Leadership Awards 
    The Girl Scout Awards create opportunities for girls to take initiative and lead giving them skills and motivation to forge their own path and take charge of their future.

    sun icon

    Activities and camps that build outdoor skills and confidence for girls and adults.

    cookie icon

    Everyone knows about the Cookie and Fall Nut Sale Programs, but did you know that the Girl Scout Cookie Program is the longest running and largest financial literacy program for girls in the world? Through it and other business and financial literacy programs, girls and adults experience a range of opportunities including product sales, adult/girl skills-based workshops, career exploration, and money management.

    telescope icon

    STEM (
    Opportunities to dive into science, technology, engineering, math (Girls Go Tech), environmental and conservation activities (Green By Nature), as well as the world of tinkerers and inventors (MakeHers).

    Life Skills: Providing girls skill building in communications, relationship building, citizenship and healthy living. 

     Image result for check mark Life Skills
    Providing girls skill building in communications, relationship building, citizenship and healthy living.
    airplane icon

    Travel and Adventure
    Adventures both near and far to help girls explore and experience new things.

    GSNorCal's Program Department delivers program to girls through either of these ways:

    Enrichment Programs

    • The Program Guide offers events to all girls throughout the council designed to enrich their Girl Scout experience and retain their membership in Girl Scouting.
    Community Based Programs
    Increasing access to Girl Scouting by offering staff-led programs. Current service includes girls in K-12 in:

    • Detention centers or alternative high schools. 
    • Title 1 Elementary and Middle schools
    • Migrant family communities 
    • Local service units also offer numerous events, weekend Camporees or Emcampments, and even day or resident camps over spring break and in the summer.

    dot border

    Online Event Manager Training

    Events provide the opportunities for girls and adults to rekindle friendships with "old" friends, to learn life skills, and provide leadership opportunities for girls. If you’ve ever planned a child’s birthday party, a wedding, or any other large celebration, you’re familiar with some of the logistics involved with planning an event.

    Online Event Manager training is required for at least one adult who will be working with girls or other volunteers running events where they are responsible for the planning and implementation of the event and for the well-being of the participants. Older girls/troops who are planning and/or hosting a money-earning event to support troop activities such as travel/trip or Silver/Gold Award are encouraged to complete the Event Manager course as well. They do so with the understanding that the adult advisor to their project will be present at the event and also complete the necessary training on the Volunteer Learning Portal (

    Is your activity an “event”? If your occasion meets one or more of the following criteria, it should be considered an event. If your activity meets one or more of these criteria and you feel that the Event Manager course should not be required, please contact GSNorCal at to discuss it.

    •Any activity other than just a regularly scheduled troop/group meeting may be an event if it includes other people outside the troop/group
    •Girls attending individually – any time you have girls attending as individuals rather than with their troop the activity qualifies as an event
    •Promotion – when other troops, groups, or people are invited outside those planning the activity, it is an event
    •Size – if more than two large or three small troops are involved, it would be considered an event
    •Logistics – a complicated activity where there are many logistics to consider such as site, safety, transportation, etc. would be considered an “event”.

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    You’ll use several books, awards, and online resources to bring the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to life with girls. We strongly recommend that each girl has her own books from the National Program Portfolio. These books—the Journeys and The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting—and national program awards—like badges and pins—are an important part of how Girl Scouting helps girls experience the power of millions of girls changing the world together.

    National Leadership Journeys


    Girl's Guide to Girl ScoutingGirls Guide to Girl Scouting

    As you use the National Program Portfolio with girls, keep in mind that Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) creates materials to serve our vast and diverse community of girls. To help bring topics off the page and into life, we sometimes provide girls and volunteers with suggestions about what people across the country and around the world are doing. We also sometimes make suggestions about movies, books, music, websites, and more that might spark girls’ interests.

    GSUSA and GSNorCal knows that not every example or suggestion provided will work for every girl, family, volunteer, or community. In partnership with those who assist you with your Girl Scout group—including parents, faith groups, schools, and community organizations—choose real-life topic experts from your community as well as movies, books, music, websites, and other opportunities that are most appropriate for the girls in your area to enrich their Girl Scout activities.

    We are proud to be the premier leadership organization for girls. While girls and their families may have questions or interest in programming relevant to other aspects of girls’ lives, we are not always the organization best suited to offer such information. Your council can recommend local organizations or resources that are best suited to do so.

    Also note that GSUSA continuously reviews national program content to guarantee that all our resources are relevant and age appropriate, and that their content doesn’t include violence, sex, inappropriate language, or risky behavior. We value your input and hope that you will bring to your council’s attention any content that concerns you.

    dot border

    Volunteer Toolkit

    ipad with VTK

    Volunteer Toolkit is a troop administration tool designed to help facilitate running your troop. It is accessible from your home computer, tablet, or mobile device.

    Troop leaders can:

    - Access the girl and family roster

    - Communicate with families and let them see the calendar of activities

    - Track girls' achievements and attendance

    - Plan a year's worth of meetings with customized agendas

    Learn more about the Volunteer Toolkit

    To access the Volunteer Toolkit, simply sign in where it says “MyGS” at

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    The Girl Scout program is based on the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE), in which girls discover themselves, connect with others, and take action to make the world a better place - all within the safety of an all-girl environment where girls take the lead, learn  by doing, and learn cooperatively.  At the core of the GSLE are National Leadership Journeys, which are fun and challenging experiences grouped around a theme and spread over a series of sessions.  Each Journey has all the important components of the GSLE sewn right in.

    National Leadership Journeys help Girl Scouts learn and practice the Three Keys, aid their communities, and earn leadership awards, progressing up Girl Scouting’s Ladder of Leadership as they do so. There are three series of Leadership Journeys, each about a different theme; the girls in your group can choose the theme that interests them most.

    The Ladder of Leadership below shows the awards girls will earn on each Journey.

    Ladder of Leadership

    Journeys help girls develop 21st Century skills that allow them to come up with creative solutions to challenges in their lives and their community. Journeys offer girls a path to understand how to best dive into a topic. Armed with  research, critical thinking skills, and brainstorming sessions, girls come up with creative solutions to problems in their community. Each time a girl completes a Journey, she has learned skills which will help her accomplish future goals, including working towards the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.

    Girls who use Journeys have learned to be curious and know how to accomplish their goals. This will help them throughout college and later in their careers in a fast-paced, technologically driven global economy.

    In a national survey, when girls were asked whether they believed that a girl could make a difference in the world, about 90% answered yes. But, when the same Girl Scouts were asked whether they believed they personally could make a difference in the world, most did not believe they could. Community service has long been a fundamental part of the Girl Scout program. However, it’s clear that girls want to be able to make a lasting change in the world. Journeys provide step-by-step instructions for helping girls to create and carry out a Take Action project in the sample sessions in the Adult Guides.  They also incorporate Discover and Connect activities, and the three Girl Scout processes (Girl-led, Learning by Doing, and Cooperative Learning).  The sample sessions in the Adult Guides have it all mapped out!

    To guide girls on a great Journey, all you need is enthusiasm and a sense of adventure.  Before you dive in, try these four simple tips:

    1. Journey Adult Guides OutlineChoose a Journey. Because Girl Scouting is girl-led, it’s important to give girls the chance to pick the Journey they want to do. Talk to them about what each Journey for their grade level is about and let them choose one.

    2. Get to know the Journey.  Pick up a girls’ book and an adult guide.  Read the girls’ book for the pleasure of it, just to get an overview of the Journey’s theme and content.

    3. Invite the girls (and their parents/guardians) to use their imaginations to make the Journeys come to life in ways that excite them. Remember that you and the girls don’t have to do everything exactly as laid out in the sample sessions.

    4. Step back and watch how the girls, with your knowledge, support, and guidance, have enormous fun and a rewarding experience. Celebrate with them as they earn their national leadership Journey awards, and perhaps some Girl Scout badges too!

    Girl Scouts of the USA provides digital troop tools just for you! Be sure to check out the Volunteer Toolkit (often called the "VTK"), available for troop leaders and parents of all troop levels with resources and activity plans for badges and journeys, as well as troop management tools. Get more information about how to use the Volunteer Toolkit here: To access it directly, simply click on "My GS" in the upper bar of our website,, login and then click on Volunteer Toolkit.

    Although each Journey is unique, the following elements are present in every Journey (although the order may be slightly different):

    Teambuilding Girls get to know each other and learn each other's strengths and weaknesses
    Be Inspired Girls learn about women role models, and think about who inspires them
    Learn & Discover Girls have the opportunity to learn about an issue they care about
    Create A Vision Girls create a vision - if they had no boundaries or limitations, what would they want to accomplish to make the world a better place?
    Choose A Take Action Project Girls focus on a doable part of their vision and choose a Take Action Project
    Plan the Project Girls make plans, and realize that together they can do greater things than they can accomplish alone
    Do the Project Girls carry out their plans and get a chance to make mistakes and adjust, in a safe environment
    Reflect Girls think about what went well, what didn't and what they learned
    Celebrate Girls plan a celebration of what they've accomplished

    Journey Downloads

    Downloads to send home to parents, Journey Assets (lists that provide a fast, easy way to find the relevant pages for each topic area), songs, ties to state curriculum, and other resources for the journeys are included in the Volunteer Toolkit to download and use. [VOLUNTEERING: Volunteer Toolkit]

    Journey Maps

    How do the Leadership Journeys fit in with the other things girls do in Girl Scouting? Check out the Journey maps at These maps show you how all the fun and meaningful traditions of Girl Scouting fit right into any National Leadership Journey. There, you can also find information about the topics that each Journey covers, which you can share with girls. And you’ll find even more fun traditions to complement your Journey in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, a resource for each grade level of Girl Scouting.

    The following Journeys are available for volunteers to choose from. They are:

    • It’s Your Planet—Love It!
    • It’s Your Story—Tell It!
    • It’s Your World—Change It! (Daisies ONLY)
    • Outdoor
    • Think Like an Engineer
    • Think Like a Programmer
    • Think Like a Citizen Scientist


    It’s Your World—Change It!:

    • Available for purchase in council stores (adult guide and girl book) for Daisies–Ambassadors
    • On the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) for Daisies ONLY as part of a 15 meeting Year Plan


    It’s Your Planet—Love It:

    • Available for purchase in council stores (adult guide and girl book) for Daisies–Ambassador
    • On the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) for Daisy, Brownie, and Junior as part of a 15 meeting Year Plan


    It’s Your Story—Tell It!:

    • Available for purchase in council stores (adult guide and girl book) for Daisies–Ambassadors
    • On the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) for Daisy, Brownie, and Junior as part of a 15 meeting Year Plan



    • Available on the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) for Brownie and Junior as nine sessions in total, which includes three outdoor badges plus three Take Action meetings and is part of a 15 meeting Year Plan
    • Available on Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) for Daisies as seven sessions in total, which includes two outdoor badges plus three Take Action meetings and is part of a 15 meeting Year Plan.
    • Available for Multi-level for Daisies-Juniors on the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK).
    • Cadette, Senior, Ambassador, and Multi-level will be available for Back to Troop as PDFs on the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK).


    Think Like an Engineer:

    • Available on the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) for Daisy, Brownie, Junior, and Multi-level. The Journey is six sessions in total, including three Take Action meetings, and is part of a 15 meeting Year Plan.


    Think Like a Programmer:

    • Available on the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) for Daisy, Brownie, Junior, and Multi-level. The Journey is six sessions in total, including three Take Action meetings, and is part of a 15 meeting Year Plan.


    Think Like a Citizen Scientist:

    • Available on the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) for Daisy, Brownie, Junior, and Multi-level. The Journey is six sessions in total, including three Take Action meetings, and is part of a 15 meeting Year Plan.

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    In addition to the Leadership Journeys, girls at each Girl Scout grade level have their own edition of The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting—a binder full of information about being a Girl Scout and how to earn certain badges, including ones about financial literacy and the Girl Scout Cookie Program. Girls who want to earn more badges can add a Skill Building Badge Set tied to the theme of the Journey they’ve chosen.

    When a Girl Scout earns a badge, it shows that she’s learned a new skill, such as how to make a healthy snack or take great digital photos. It may even spark an interest at school or plant the seed for a future career. Please remember that we don’t expect you to be an expert in the badge topics; just have fun learning by doing with the girls!

    While you’re having fun, keep in mind: Badges are for educating girls, not for decorating their sashes and vests. The quality of a girl’s experience—and the skills and pride she gains from earning leadership awards and skill-building badges—far outweigh the quantity of badges she earns.

    If you are working with Girl Scout Daisies, please note that they earn Petals and Leaves (which form a flower) along with some skill building badges. 

    Use Badge Explorer to discover the wide variety of topics you can pursue with your troop. Badge information is available in the following ways:

    • Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting
    • Skill Building Sets
    • Individual Badge Pamphlets (also digitally downloaded)
    • Volunteer Toolkit  

    Girl's Guides to Girl Scouting

    The Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting for Brownies through Ambassadors is the handbook that includes legacy badges.

    Skill building badge sets for Brownie-Senior levels are available to purchase from the Girl Scout store. The badge sets can be earned individually or in concert with Leadership Journeys. 

    Pamphlets, typically for our new badges, contact the requirements and can be purchased in the retail store or online. They can also be purchased as a digital download. 

    Volunteer Toolkit

    The Volunteer Toolkit provides meeting plans for Girl Scout Badges and Journeys. These plans are pre-set to allow quick start. To learn more about the individual requirements and activities, you can also reference other curriculum resources on the GSNorCal website or the Badge Explorer on the GSUSA website.  

    Outdoor Badges

    New outdoor badges were introduced in early 2015 after girls voted to choose the topic for their badge. The outdoor badges were created for Brownie through Ambassador girls. The requirements can be purchased in printed form or purchased for download here:

    TOP ↑

    dot border

    Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards

    General Overview
    gold award pinningThe Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards are Girl Scouting’s highest awards. These awards offer girls relevant, grade-level-appropriate challenges related to teamwork, goal setting, community networking  and  leadership. They also engage girls in building networks that not only support them in their award project, but in new educational and career opportunities.

    Like everything girls do in Girl Scouting, the steps to earning these awards are rooted in the GSLE. This is why, to earn each of these awards, girls first complete a grade-level Journey (two Journeys for the Gold Award or a Silver Award and one Journey). With Journeys, girls experience the keys to leadership and learn to identify community needs, work in partnership with their communities, and carry out Take Action projects that make a lasting difference. They can then use the skills they developed during a Journey to develop and execute projects for their Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. Girl Scouts has just introduced a web app that takes girls step-by-step through the Gold Award requirements.Visit to take a peek.

    GSNorCal's website provides all information for awards, including council specific requirements. Girls, parents, and volunteers must view or attend a GSNorCal training. In-person trainings, webinars, and GSNorCal's online training are offered for Silvery and Gold Awards. Bronze Award training is offered online only. Online training can be found at for all three levels. Webinars can be found in the Activity Finder. In-person trainings can be found at Discoveree and by talking to your local Service Unit. Girls must submit the online final report for the Bronze and Silver Award (both available at Girls must submit online proposal for approval and the online Final Report for Gold Award at

    Did you know that a Girl Scout who has earned her Gold Award immediately rises one rank in all four branches of the U.S. Military? A number of college-scholarship opportunities also await Gold Award Girl Scouts. A girl does not, however, have to earn a Bronze or Silver Award before earning the Girl Scout Gold Award. She is eligible to earn any recognition at the grade level in which she is registered.

    As a Girl Scout volunteer, encourage girls to go for it by earning these awards at the Junior through Ambassador levels.  Check out some of the award projects girls are doing by visiting or talk to a few past recipients of the Girl Scout Gold Award. You’ll be inspired when you see and hear what girls can accomplish as leaders—and by the confidence, values, and team-building expertise they gain while doing so. And imagine the impact girls have on their communities, country, and even the world as they identify problems they care about, team with others, and act to make change happen!

    All this, of course, starts with you—a Girl Scout volunteer! Encourage girls to go after Girl Scouting’s highest awards—information on the awards and guidelines for you to use when helping girls earn their awards are also available online

    For information regarding troop bank accounts and funding awards [MONEY: Options for Funding]

    Girls work with GSNorCal when applying for small grants to support their Awards take action projects. Contact if you plan on applying for a grant at least 21 days prior to submitting your grant application.  More information about grants can be found here:

    Snapshot View of Prerequisites and Requirements

    Bronze Awardbronze award pinSilver Awardsilver awardGold AwardGold Award Pin
    • Complete a Girl Scout
      Junior Journey.
    • Build your Girl Scout Bronze Award team.
    • Explore your community.
    • Choose your Girl Scout Bronze Award project.
    • Make a plan.
    • Put your plan in motion.
    • Spread the word.
    • Complete a Cadette Journey.
    • Identify issues you care about through online and in-person research.
    • Build your Girl Scout Silver Award team or decide to go solo.
    • Explore your community. Consider how your issue impacts the community and who you can partner with to address the issue. 
    • Pick your Silver Award  Take Action project.
    • Develop your project. Determine the steps to your project and who will lead each step.
    • Make a plan and put it into motion. Take leadership and complete the project. 
    • Reflect, share your story, and celebrate.
    • Complete two Senior or Ambassador Journeys or have earned the Silver Award and completed one Senior or Ambassador Journey.
    • Use your values and skills to identify a community or global issue you care about.
    • Investigate it thoroughly.  Use online searches and in-person interviews to ensure that it is an issue.
    • Get help. Build your team by inviting others to support and  Take Action with you.
    • Create a plan. Identify the root cause of the issue and create a project plan to tackle it.
    • Present your plan and get feedback. Submit a Project Proposal Form to the Girl Scout council for approval, clearly identifying how the prject will address the issue in a sustainable way.
    • Take Action: Take the lead and manage your team to carry out the plan.
    • Educate and inspire: Share what you have experienced with others.
      Note: Girls use GoGoldOnline:

    GSNorCal Procedures

    Information and electronic forms for girls working on the Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards can be found on the GSNorCal website at Each award has specific prerequisites and requirements that must be met in order for a girl to complete a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Take Action  project and earn the award. 

    Bronze Awardbronze award pin

    The Bronze Award is the highest award for Junior Girl Scouts, girls in grades 4-5, and is designed to be completed within the group setting, but can be done individually. Adults and girls take the online Bronze Award training to learn how to do the Bronze Award prior to planning the project.  For training, please visit

    Council approval is not needed to begin the work or to purchase the award. Approval is given by the supervising adult. Troop leaders notify the council upon project completion by submitting the Bronze Award final report form found on our website:

    Silver Awardsilver award

    The Silver Award is the highest award for Cadette Girl Scouts, girls in grades 6-8. This award is primarily completed within a group setting in teams of no more than four, however individual girls may also earn the award with a team of her own volunteers. Adults and girls take a Silver Award training to learn how to do the Silver Award prior to planning the project. For training, please visit

    Council approval is not needed to begin the Silver Award, but an electronic final report form must be submitted to the council Program Department for final approval immediately after completion of the work. The Silver Award Final Report can be found at The Silver Award pin can be purchased at the council store once the girl’s final report has been accepted by the program department. Silver Awards must be completed by September 30th of the year in which girls complete 8th grade.

    Gold AwardGold Award Pin

    The Gold Award is the highest recognition a girl can earn in Girl Scouts. This award is for Senior (grades 9-10) and Ambassador (grades 11-12) girls. Preliminary work is completed with approval of a supervising adult, but pre-approval by the council must be obtained before work can begin on the final project. Adults and girls take a Gold Award training to learn how to do the Gold Award prior to planning the project. For training, please visit

    The council’s volunteer Gold Award Committee works directly with girls, and pre-approves projects, monitors progress, receives final reports, and approves completions. Work for the Gold Award must be completed by September 30th directly following high school graduation, or their eighteenth birthday, whichever is the later date. Gold Award pins are available at the council store. You’ll receive instructions on how to pick up your Gold Award Pin upon acceptance from the council. 

    For more information about these procedures, please visit:  It will be very helpful for you to read the general information on the website first so we can better assist you with your specific questions.

    For more information, please contact: or (800) 447-4475 Ext. 0

    Please Note: The Bronze, Silver and Gold Award pins may not be purchased until after a girl has earned the award.


    Everything you need to know about awards is on the council website. The following are available at

    Bronze Award Resources Silver Award ResourcesGold Award Resources
    • Bronze Award Online Training
    • Bronze Award Packet
    • Bronze Award Electronic Final Report
    • Silver Award Online Training
    • Silver Award Packet
    • Silver Award Electronic Final Report
    • Gold Award Online Training
    • Gold Award Packet
    • Go Gold Online

    A Tradition of Honoring Girls

    From the beginning of Girl Scouts, one prestigious award has recognized the girls who make a difference in their communities and in their own lives. The first of these awards, in 1916, was the Golden Eagle of Merit. In 1919, the name changed to The Golden Eaglet, and in 1920, the requirements for The Golden Eaglet were updated. The First Class Award existed for only two years, from 1938–1940, and was replaced in 1940 with The Curved Bar Award, the requirements for which were updated in 1947. In 1963, GSUSA re-introduced the First Class Award, for a girl who was an “all-around” person, with skills in many fields and a proficiency in one. Today’s highest award, the Girl Scout Gold Award, was introduced in 1980.

    TOP ↑

    dot border

    Other National Awards

    Journey Summit Award

    Journey Summit Award Pins

    Girls earn the Journey Summit Award by completing all three Journeys at their grade level. It will be placed just below the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards on a sash or vest to recognize the importance of the award. This is now the highest award that a Daisy or Brownie can earn, and second only to the Bronze Award for Juniors, the Silver Award for Cadettes, or the Gold Award for Seniors or Ambassadors.

    dot border

    My Promise My Faith Award and Religious Recognitions

    My Promise My Faith Pins

    The Girl Scout Law includes many of the principles and values common to most faiths. And even though Girl Scouts is a secular organization, we’ve always encouraged girls to explore spirituality via their own faiths. Girls of all grade levels can now earn the My Promise, My Faith pin. By carefully examining the Girl Scout Law and directly tying it to tenets of her faith, a girl can earn the pin once each year she participates in Girl Scouting. The My Promise My Faith pin is found in the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and can be earned by girls of any faith. 

    Religious Recognition programs are also developed and administered by each of the major religious groups themselves. Through Girl Scouting, each girl is encouraged to become a stronger member of her own religion. Girls who choose to participate in one of these programs usually do so outside of their regular group meetings with a group of girls guided by a spiritual counselor or with their own families. Individual awards are listed on the council website. PRAY (Programs of Religious Activities with Youth) works with various religious groups to develop requirements for the various awards. You can find information about requirements and ordering information on the PRAY website: For more information, please contact or call (800) 447-4475 ext. 0

    dot border

    Girl Scout Ranger Program

    Girl Scout Ranger patch

    The National Park Service and Girl Scouts of the United States of America have partnered to create the Girl Scout Ranger Program. Girl Scouts are invited to participate in a variety of existing, organized educational or service projects at national park sites, or design their own experience or project to align with Journey work, badge activities, or a Take Action or Highest Award project. Girl Scouts are awarded certificates and/or patches for their participation. Find out more: 

    TOP ↑

    dot border

    Awards & Opportunities for Older Girls

    The Girl Scout program for older girls (grades 6-12) involves much more than working on awards. In fact, some girls may not be interested in earning the Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards and, while a little gentle encouragement never hurts, girls should not be pressured to do so. When working with older girls, it is crucial to remember that girls should have ownership of their program. We challenge both leaders and girls to be flexible and to explore the full potential of all available program options.

    Leader in Action (LiA)

    LIA awards

    This special award is available to Girl Scout Cadettes who assist a Girl Scout Brownie troop in completing a Brownie Journey. There are separate Leader in Action awards for each Brownie Journey.  Requirements can be found in the Cadette Program Aide Facilitator's Guide at or in the Brownie adult guides for each Journey. There are specific ideas for what girls might do to earn the LiA for each Journey in the Program Aide Girl Workbook at The LiA is a prerequisite for earning the Program Aide. 

    Program Aide (PA)Program Aide pin

    Cadettes receive their Program Aide award by earning one LiA award, completing the GSNorCal Program Aide curriculum, and working directly with younger girls. Requirements for the Program Aide are found in the Cadette Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and the Program Aide Booklet.  Check out the Program Aide Girl Workbook and the Cadette Program Aide Facilitator's Guide for tons of helpful information and ideas. This program enables girls to become proficient in an area of interest, and to develop leadership skills by sharing their specialized knowledge with younger girls in a troop, group, activity, or event setting. Girls can also specialize in areas such as crafts, computers, games, and songs.  For more information on Program Aide trainings, check with your local Service Unit team.

    Counselor-in-Training (CIT/CIT II)CIT and CIT II pins

    Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors mentor young girls in a camp setting as they build skills toward becoming a camp counselor. 

    To earn this award Girl Scouts complete a leadership course on outdoor experiences and work with younger girls over the course of a camp session.  Requirements for the CIT can be found in the Senior and Ambassador Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting.  Additionally, Girl Scout Ambassadors can earn their  CIT II Award.  Girl Scout Ambassadors earn this award by working with younger girls over the course of at least one camp session while focused on increasing their skills in one specific area--such as riding instruction, lifeguarding, or the arts. Requirements can be found in the Ambassador Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting. For more information about the CIT/CIT II programs, please visit

    Volunteer-in-Training (VIT)VIT pin

    This award is for girls who’d like to mentor a Girl Scout Daisy, Brownie, Junior or Cadette group outside of the camp experience. Girls who have completed ninth grade are eligible to earn this award. Girls complete a group leadership course, and commit to helping a younger girl troop under the guidance of that troop’s leader. The program usually spans five to eight months with time split between course work and 25 volunteer hours with the troop.  Requirements can be found in the Senior and Ambassador Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting. 

    Girl Planning Committees

    Girls in grades 6-12 work with adult advisors to plan activities for other girls. Girls are in the driver’s seat and make decisions about issues they care about that benefit girls in their areas. This is a great way for girls to make a 

    big impact on the council and have fun, too. For more information, contact your local office or email 

    Girl Scouts of Northern California Board of Directors

    As a Girl Scout 14 years or older, girls are eligible to be a Girl Board Participant. The Board of Directors meets throughout the year to conduct business. Girl Board Participants are elected by the council, serve for one year, voice their opinions, and vote on issues critical to the future of GSNorCal.

    Delegate to the National Council of GSUSA

    Girls aged 14 and older are eligible to be a delegate to the National Council, which meets every three years. Delegates, who are elected by their council, serve for three years; they voice their opinions and vote on issues critical to the future of Girl Scouting. Contact for more information.

    GSNorCal Regional Delegate

    Girls aged 14 and older are eligible to be a Regional Delegate and attend the GSNorCal Annual Meeting held each year in the spring.  Regional Delegates are elected by their regions.  Girls aged 14 and older are eligible to run for either a one or a two year term.  Regional Delegates are the liaison between the members of their region and GSNorCal’s Board of Directors.  They carry information to the members, and gather input to inform their vote on issues of great importance to the  future of our council.  Nominations are open October, and elections are held in January.

    TOP ↑

    dot border

    Emblems, Insignia, and Patches

    In addition to leadership awards tied to the Journeys and national proficiency badges, girls can show they belong by adding emblems to the front of their vests or sashes and participation patches on the back.

    Emblems show membership in Girl Scouts, a particular council, a particular troop, or in some other Girl Scout group.  These can be worn on the front of a sash or vest (see the diagram in the handbook section of The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting to see where these are placed.

    Troop Crests

    The troop crest is chosen by the girls in a Girl Scout troop. The crests are worn by Girl Scout Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors. Center the troop crest directly under the council identification strip. Throughout its history, Girl Scouts has assigned no specific meaning to troop crests. The items used in troop crests, such as flowers and other natural elements, often have various meanings that have come to be associated with them by cultures around the world. Some of these elements carry multiple meanings, and sometimes their symbolism has changed and evolved through the ages. Some of these meanings are offered in the description of each crest, which may be of interest to girls and their adult volunteers. You can think of a troop crest as a symbol for your troop's interest and character. All the troop crest descriptions are available in your Girls Guide to Girl Scouting and the girls can decide what the symbols mean for them. We encourage you and your troop to talk about each option and vote to select your troop crest.

    Where to place emblems, insignia and awards

    Junior Vest emblem placement

    The Uniform Insignia Booklet shows the emblems and earned awards for each grade level with illustrations which show exactly where girls can place their emblems, awards, badges, pins, and patches on their vests and sashes. 

    Participation patches (or fun patches) represent activities girls have tried and are fun ways for girls to remember special events they’ve attended. Since these patches and pins aren’t tied to skill-building activities like the earned awards are, they are worn on the back of a girl’s sash or vest. Think of back of the vest or sash as a scrapbook for the year. 

    Purchasing Information

    You can purchase emblems and patches, along with badges and leadership awards at:

    For retail shop locations [ABOUT GSNorCal: Office & Retail Locations]


    TOP ↑

    dot border



    Opportunities to dive into science, technology, engineering, math (Girls Go Tech), environmental and conservation activities (Green By Nature), as well as the world of tinkerers and inventors.

    Digital Programming

    The For Girls section of features Badge Explorer, an overview of all of the badges girls can earn, and other programs girls can participate in individually and as a troop. For Girls is updated frequently, so check back often—and invite girls to do the same!

    STEM Programs in a Box (

    Program boxes are filled with hands-on activity materials and instructions, designed to introduce girls to the science and technology we interact with every day. Using program box materials, girls collaborate to explore everything from animal habitats to engineering with wind power. Troops, groups, and individuals can borrow a program box from the council to make a Journey connection, earn a skill-building patch, or just have fun with something new.

    Girls Go Tech - Apply scientific concepts and find innovative solutions to real world problems through hands-on activities. 15 badge or  patch-earning boxes to choose from!

    Green By Nature - Connect with nature while learning to value and protect our Northern California home and beyond with these 5 engaging, rocker-earning boxes.

    Girls Learning Environment and Energy (GLEE) - Demonstrate your commitment to making the world a better place with these 2 patches-developed with Stanford University. 

    Robotics - Design, build, and program your own robot. Use LEGO® Mindstorm NXT or VEX Robot kits to help you develop an interest in robotics and complete a challenge. Reserve your kits online now!

    How do I reserve a box? Our boxes have been very popular, so we ask that you request a box at least 8 days before you'd like to use it.  We will customize your box to your troop size and make sure it is stocked and ready to go.  You can make a reservation online to get started on a fun exploration of science of our natural world. To reserve a program box, specify the preferred date and your local council office to check availability: 

    Where do I pick up the boxes? After your reservation has been accepted, you may pick up the boxes at your local GSNorCal office. 

    How long can I keep the boxes? Boxes can be borrowed for up to 12 weeks, but we're always glad to get them back more quickly so that others can use them. After 12 weeks, a late fee will be charged automatically.

    How much do the boxes cost?

    Green By Nature (all ages) and Girls Go Tech(grades K-3 + Robotics): $5/per girl 

    Girls Go Tech (grades 4 - 12): $10/ per girl 

    There is also a refundable $100 deposit per box that is charged at the time of booking. The deposit will be returned to you when boxes are returned to your local office and inventoried. The deposit is to ensure all non-consumables, such as binoculars, scissors, glue guns and other equipment are returned. If a non-consumable is missing, the cost to replace it is paid for out of your deposit. Please allow 5 business days for staff to inventory the box, and an additional 7-10 business days for your refund. 

    If you are serving a large group of girls (25 or more), ask us about special pricing.

    What is in the boxes? Almost all the materials you need are included in the boxes, as well as detailed instructions. Some boxes might require items such as ovens, cameras, computers, printers, or water that are not included in the boxes.

    How can these boxes be fit in to our program year? These boxes may be used at troop meetings/events and are great to use with large groups or at weekend events. Other suggestions: older girls can teach activities to younger girls, Camporees, Day Camps, or Service Unit events.

    Is there additional training for the modules? If you are planning to offer an event to a large group (Camporee, Day Camp, Service Unit event) arrangements can be made to have a STEM staff person come out to train your volunteers. Girls Go Tech (grades 4 - 12) has online training videos.

    Do girls earn a patch? Yes, there are patches or badges for each module. You may purchase the patches, badges and rockers online and in our Alameda and San Jose offices.  

    For more information about Program Boxes visit GS NorCal Program Boxes

    Please reserve your box through Doubleknot.

    The Girl Scout Cookie Program

    In addition to giving girls an opportunity to earn money to fund their Girl Scouting goals, taking part in the Girl Scout Cookie Program teaches girls five important skills that serve them throughout their lives: goal setting, money management, people skills, decision making, and business ethics. [PROGRAM: Product Program]

    Outdoor Adventures

    Being outside is a great way for girls to explore leadership, build skills, and develop a deep appreciation for nature. Whether they spend an afternoon exploring a local hiking trail or a week at camp, being outside gives girls an opportunity to grow, explore, and have fun in a whole new environment.

    Publications & CDs 

    There are a variety of publications, and other resources available in our GSNorCal retail stores, as well as songbooks with CDs and songs for every occasion. 

    Spanish-Language Resources

    Spanish Resources

    Two of the Journey series—It’s Your World—Change It! and It’s Your Planet—Love It!—are available in Spanish, as are two new supporting books for Spanish-speaking volunteers to use with Spanish-speaking and bilingual Girl Scout Brownies and Juniors :¡Las Girl Scouts Brownies Cambian El Mundo! (Girl Scout Brownies Change the World!) and ¡Las Girl Scouts Juniors Apuntan a las Estrellas! (Girl Scout Juniors Reach for the Stars!). The books, which introduce the Girl Scout movement to these girls and their families, provide everything you need for a fun-filled year in Girl Scouting. 

    Take Online Training

    There are numerous modules to help you understand and use the national program resources, including:

    • Girl Scout Program
    • Journeys (for each level)
    • Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting (for each level)
    • Uniform & Awards (for each level)

    Go to and click on your Leader course for the appropriate program level.

    Take In-Person Training

    Use the Program and Event Guide and the Activity Finder on the GSNorCal website to access Adult Learning opportunities as well as side-by-side experiences with girls. These experiences offer learning and networking opportunities.  

    Finally, consider attending one of our council-wide Learning Events. Fall Festival and Discoveree each offer numerous workshops in a whole variety of topics. See all our available in-person course on our Volunteer Learning Portal.

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    All of this may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry. The next few pages give you an idea of what’s involved when you use the National Program Portfolio with girls at each Girl Scout grade level. The first page shows the options girls have using the national program resources, and the second page shows how to fit that in with the other opportunities that girls have.

    Recent studies have shown that girls love variety, and really want to have unique challenging experiences and adventures in Girl Scouting.

    What Girls Do - Daisies

    Daisy Journey Map

    What Girls Do - Brownies

    Brownie Journey map

    What Girls Do - Juniors

    Junior Journey Map

    What Girls Do - Cadettes

    Cadette Journey Map

    What Girls Do - Seniors

    Senior Journey Map

    What Girls Do - Ambassadors

    Ambassador Journey Map

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    Being outside is a great way for girls to explore leadership, build skills, and develop a deep appreciation for nature. Whether they spend an afternoon exploring a local hiking trail or a week at camp, being outside gives girls an opportunity to grow, explore, and have fun in a whole new environment.

    Remember: If girls will go on an overnight trip or engage in any high adventure activity, you must have GSNorCal approval for your activity. [SAFETY-WISE: Trip Checklist]

    Top Ten Reasons Why Girls Should Get Outdoors

    Outdoor Progression Chart

    Interest Groups

    backpackers looking at map

    Outdoor Interest Groups provide volunteer-run, girl-centered outdoor program opportunities for older girls. All Girl Scouts, grades 5-12, are welcome to join whether they are independent Girl Scouts or members of a traditional troop. Outdoor Interest Groups include: Backpacking, High-Adventure, Mariners, & Older Girl Adventure Interest Groups. For more information, please visit:

    Ropes Course Rentals

    We offer different options for groups to choose from when renting the ropes course at either Camp Bothin or Skylark Ranch. Unique opportunities are available to build teamwork with your group, develop climbing skills, participate in an individual challenge, and more through this ultimate high adventure activity! [ABOUT GSNorCal: Property & Rental Information: Ropes Course Rentals

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    Camps: Day and Resident

    girls at camp

    Day Camps, Resident Camps and Core Camps offer a variety of outdoor activities for girls, and are usually held during the summer months. Day Camps at both the service unit and council level are usually one-week sessions at convenient in-town locations. Resident camps last for more than three nights. Core camps are short-term outdoor programs, lasting from one to three nights and are managed by the council.

    Camp brochures highlighting our council-run camps are mailed to all girls (and adults registered as troop leaders) in October. Some volunteer-run camp flyers containing detailed information are available in the winter and spring online at

    All registered Girl Scouts as well as non-Girl Scouts are welcome to register.

    Camp Info number and URL

    Volunteer-Run Camps

    Day and resident camps run by volunteers are held at community locations throughout Northern California. Parents and volunteers can often attend with their daughter in exchange for helping in different areas of camp operation.

    Volunteer Run Resident Camps

    Volunteer run resident camps occur in many local areas. Flyers are mailed or given to girls in those areas in late winter with registration opening in late winter and spring.

    • Butano Creek — in San Mateo County near the town of Pescadero

    • Camp Tall Trees — Northern Humboldt County

    • Two Sentinels — on the shores of Lake Kirkwood high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

    • Kamp Konocti — Fairfax, CA (new location)

    Council-Run Camps

    Organized resident camps run by full time and seasonal Council staff members. Girls attend as an individual, not with their troop or parents (except for family camp programs).

    Council Run Resident Camps

    • Bothin - Marin County

    • Skylark Ranch — overlooks the Pacific Ocean north of Santa Cruz

    • Sugar Pine — in the Sierras in Calaveras County

    Registration for camp opens on December 1.

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    Product Program has now transitioned to our new home at


    Benefits of Trips

    girls at Our Chalet in Switzerland

    A Girl Scout trip is an opportunity for girls to have fun, to experience adventure, and to enrich their ongoing Girl Scout program. A Girl Scout trip is defined as any time a group has an activity at a location other than the regularly scheduled meeting place. If the group will start and end at the regular meeting location, but will walk to a local park or other destination, this activity is not defined as a trip.

    Safety Activity Checkpoints and the guidelines in this booklet should be consulted when planning a trip of any length. Care should be taken to determine if troops are ready to participate in troop/group travel and trips. Safety and money-earning procedures are also available in this resource.

    Not only do some of the most memorable moments in a Girl Scout’s life happen while taking trips, but travel also offers a wealth of opportunities for girls to develop leadership skills. The following few sections help you prepare girls for local, regional, or international travel of any scope and duration.

    dot border

    Letting Girls Lead

    Although it's tempting to do all the planning and take care of the logistics, your girls would miss out on a great opportunity to build their life skills. Whether the trip is a day hike or a cross-country trek, the basic steps of trip planning are essentially the same. It’s true that as the locale gets farther away, the itinerary longer and more complex, the planning specifics become richer and more detailed, but planning every trip—whether it's a day-long outing or an international trek—starts by asking the following:

    • What do we hope to experience?
    • Who will we want to talk to and meet?
    • What will we ask?
    • Where are we interested in going?
    • When are we all available to go?
    • Will everyone in our group be able to go?
    • Are there physical barriers that cannot be accommodated?
    • What are hours and the need for advance reservations?
    • What are our options for getting there?
    • What’s the least and most this trip could cost?
    • What can we do now to get ourselves ready?
    • How will we earn the money?
    • What’s the availability of drinking water, restrooms, and eating places?
    • Where is emergency help available?
    • What safety factors must we consider?
    • What will we do as we travel?
    • What will we do when we get there?
    • How will we share the Take Action story?

    As girls answer these questions, they begin the trip-planning process. In time, girls can make specific arrangements, attend to a myriad of details, create a budget and handle money, and accept responsibility for their personal conduct and safety. Later, after they’ve returned from an event or trip, girls also have the chance to evaluate their experiences and share them with others.

    dot border

    Include Girls With Disabilities

    Communicate with girls with disabilities and/or their caregivers to assess any needs and accommodations. Make sure that reasonable accommodations are made for girls with disabilities. Learn more about the resources and information that Global Explorers and Wilderness Inquiries provide to people with disabilities. and

    TOP ↑

    dot border

    Using Journeys & The Girl's Guide in Their Travels

    Girl Scout travel is an ideal way to offer girls leadership opportunities. Encourage girls to choose one of the three series of National Leadership Journeys. The Journey’s theme will give girls a way to explore leadership through their travels. Use the adult guide to incorporate activities and discussions that help girls explore the Three Keys to Leadership (Discover, Connect, and Take Action) as they plan their trip and eventually travel.

    Tying your trip to the topic of a Leadership Journey is a cinch. For example, if Cadette girls have chosen MEdia, before their trip they can read online newspapers from the area to which they’re traveling—and evaluate when they arrive how well the media reflects the realities there. If Senior girls are using SOW WHAT?, they can plan to observe agricultural practices in other parts of the country or around the world. Ambassadors using BLISS: Live It! Give It! can build a trip around dreaming big—and empowering others in their community to dream big, too.

    If girls also want to complete skill-building badge requirements as part of their trip, they can. The most obvious example is the Senior Traveler badge, which fits perfectly into planning a trip. In addition, girls can explore other badge topics, depending on the focus of their trip. For examples, Cadettes can explore the food in other regions or countries for their New Cuisines badge, Seniors can find out about international business customs as part of their Business Etiquette badge, and Ambassadors can work on their Photography badge while documenting their trip.

    To find out more about the exciting series of Journeys and The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting [PROGRAM: National Program Resources]. 

    For additional Outdoor and STEM Journeys with even more trip and travel opportunities, please see the Volunteer Toolkit

    To ensure that any travel you do with girls infuses the Girl Scout Leadership Experience at every opportunity, limit your role to facilitating the girls’ brainstorming and planning—but never doing the work for them. Allow the girls to lead, learn collaboratively, and learn by doing (and by making mistakes). All the while, however, provide ideas and insight, ask tough questions when you have to, and support all their decisions with enthusiasm and encouragement!

    TOP ↑

    dot border

    Travel Readiness (Progression)

    girls and boat

    Girls love trips. And Girl Scouts is a great place for them to learn how to plan and take exciting trips, because travel is built on a progression of activities—that is, one activity leads to the next. Girl Scout Daisies, for example, can begin with a discovery walk. As girls grow in their travel skills and experience and can better manage the planning process, they progress to longer trips. The Journey Adult Guides have a lot of other ideas about trips that bring the Journey to life. Here are some examples of the progression of events and trips in Girl Scouting:

    • Local Field Trips  (Daisies and older): A walk to the nearby garden or a short ride by car or public transportation to the firehouse or courthouse is a great first step for Daisies.
    • Day Trip (Daisies and older): An all-day visit to a point of historical or natural interest (bringing their own lunch) or a day-long trip to a nearby city (stopping at a restaurant for a meal)—younger girls can select locations and do much of the trip-planning, while never being too far from home. Note: Full-day trips may be very challenging for Daisies, especially for kindergartners who have not experienced short trips. Make sure girls take some short trips before they progress to a full day trip.
    • Overnight trips (Daisies and older): One (or possibly two) nights. This could start with one night camping or staying at a Girl Scout property and progress to a visit to a a state or national park, or nearby city for sightseeing, staying in a hotel, motel, or campground- or even an overnight at a large museum! These short trips are just long enough to whet their appetites, but not long enough to generate homesickness. Note: A Daisy troop may participate in an overnight experience if the girls are ready. Brownie troops can participate up to two nights. For camp, girls who have completed kindergarten may independently participate at day camp and in resident camp experiences lasting up to three nights. Girls who have completed first grade may independently participate in resident camp experiences lasting four or more nights.
    • Regional Trips (Juniors and older): Three nights or four nights camping or a staying in a hotel, motel, or hostel within the girls’ home region (for example, New England, the Upper Midwest, the Southeast, the Pacific Northwest, and so on). 
    • National trips (Cadettes and older): Travel anywhere in the country, often lasting a week or more. Try to steer clear of trips girls might take with their families and consider those that offer some educational component—such as incredible cities, historic sites, and museums around the country. Perhaps the girls want to plan a trip to some national parks as part of the Girl Scout Ranger program!
    • International Trips/ Independent Travel (Cadettes and older*): Travel around the world, often requiring two or three years of preparation. International trips are available to Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors who have successfully participated in a progression of overnight trips with Girl Scouting. When girls show an interest in traveling abroad, fill out the online Trip and High-Adventure Approval form ( to get permission to plan your trip. You can also download the Global Travel Toolkit to help with trip planning. Adult volunteers should ensure that girls are mature enough to participate in the trip. Factors to consider are adaptability, good decision-making, previous cross-cultural experience, group dynamics, team capability, language skills (where applicable), and specific skills and interests related to the trip. Visiting one of the four World Centers is a great place to start, but also consider traveling with international service-learning organizations to perform community service, or meeting up with Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from around the world at an international scouting event. All international groups should register with S.T.E.P.-the U.S. Department of State travel registry. In addition to completing council forms, troops should complete this online Intent to Travel Form. Be sure to also read the Trips and Travel Safety Activity Checkpoints, the Travel Section below and the Outings, Trips and Travel Section of the Safety-Wise chapter of Volunteer Essentials to learn about specific policies related to travel and ensure you meet all GSNorCal requirements for international travel. 
    • Tips for Girls Traveling Alone: If a Girl Scout Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador will be traveling alone during any part of a trip, use the opportunity to help her feel comfortable with and capable of being on her own. Always talk first with her parents to assess her maturity and ability to handle herself, and have them complete an emergency form. If she is flying, discuss the possibility of booking a nonstop flight to make her trip less stressful, and ask parents to consider contacting the airline which can make special arrangements for any unaccompanied minor. With the girl herself, develop a trip plan, discuss security and safety, and talk about avoiding excess communication with strangers, not wearing a nametag, and avoiding exposing money or other items (such as smartphones or iPads) that are attractive to pickpockets. 

    Travel Progression Checklist

    If your group is thinking about travel, consider first whether the girls are mature enough to handle the trip. Determine a group’s readiness for travel by assessing the girls’:

    • Ability to be away from their parents and their homes
    • Ability to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and situations
    • Ability to make decisions for themselves and the good of the group well and easily
    • Previous cross-cultural experiences
    • Ability to get along with each other and handle challenges
    • Ability to work well as a team
    • Skills, interests, and language skills (where applicable)

    Group Dynamics & Team Capabilities

    A successful trip is dependent upon the ability of the group to work and function together as a team. The team includes girls and any adult chaperones who will be participating in the trip. Certain factors are crucial, including:

    • the ability to function as a team member
    • the ability to follow as well as lead
    • the ability to accept more direction and leadership from the group leaders than they are used to at home.

    A group needs to establish a working relationship prior to traveling together. This can be done through planning meetings, activities, and electronic correspondence prior to the trip. Ways of addressing differences and emergencies, whether life-threatening, cultural, or due to individual attitudes, should be discussed prior to travel.

    Establishing a team agreement prior to leaving for the trip on how the group will function and make decisions is very important.

    Here are some things to consider:

    • Safety rules and expectations.
    • What are your rules for the buddy system, and what if two girls clique up for the entire trip?
    • Curfews and consequences for breaking them.
    • Policy on bringing extra money for souvenirs or snacks.
    • Rules/expectations about cell phones, iPods, and other electronic devices.
    • How will the group decide where/what to eat?
    • Expectations regarding restaurant behavior, and how much food is suitable to order at one meal.
    • Expectations on how to behave in public, e.g. visiting museums, participating in a tour, etc. 
    • What to wear and not wear.
    • How much luggage to pack/bring.
    • For adults: What is the role of a chaperone? What is expected of a chaperone?

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    Girl Scout troops/groups planning an international trip are strongly encouraged to use the Global Travel Toolkit.  The toolkit is a nuts and bolts resource for international travel, including planning advice, procedures for international travel, budgeting suggestions, cultural recommendations, and resources on Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting all over the world. Download your Global Travel Toolkit at

    The Global Travel Toolkit consists of the following sections:

    Exploration: The Girl Scout Guide to Global Travel
    Takes girls through the steps of planning their own international group trip. It’s filled with tips and tricks for traveling abroad.
    cover - Global Travel Toolkit Exploration Booklet
    cover - Global Travel Toolkit Adult Guide The Adult Guide to Girl Scout Global Travel
    Serves as a companion to The Girl Scout Guide to Global Travel and The Girl Scout Travel Log.
    The Girl Scout Travel Log
    A journal for girls to record their travel experiences – before, during and after your trip.
    cover - Global Travel Toolkit Travel Log
    cover - Global Travel Toolkit Appendix The Appendix
    Travel resources, handouts, and GSUSA forms.  Please use GSNorCal forms for travel and use this document for the additional  resources.

    Additionally, there are other great travel resources available on the Global Travel Toolkit site:

    take-a-trip-footerexplorer-footertravel-stories-linktravel video linktravel resources link

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    GSUSA Destinations

    GSUSA Destinations are amazing national and international travel opportunities lasting 2 days—3 weeks with specific themes.  These opportunities are sponsored by GSUSA in partnership with a council or travel organization and open to individual girls ages 11-18. To be considered, girls need to submit 2 letters of reference and an application by November 1 for first round acceptance. Sponsoring groups select the applicants. We recommend submitting your application early for better results. For more information on this exciting opportunity and for tips on how to help fund this type of travel opportunity, please visit our website at or email

    There are six categories of GSUSA Destinations:

    • Domestic—events within the U.S.
    • International—events outside of the U.S.
    • Outdoors—events ranging from learning outdoor skills to Outward Bound challenges on land or sea.
    • STEM—events that take science to a new level. Learn animal behavior or what a doctor’s life is like.
    • People—events that visit cities and countrysides so you can experience the culture of new places.
    • Apprenticeships—events that give you hands-on, 

      real-life experience in a potential career field.


    This is a fun option for troops who want to explore two-to four-day events created just for Girl Scouts.  Getaways are open to troops and don’t require an application process.  Learn more at:

    GSNorCal Travel Opportunities

    Girl Scouts offers many travel opportunities so girls can see new places, meet new people, and learn about different cultures and ideas. Whether exploring your own neighborhoods, going on overnight camping trips, participating in a GS event across the country, or flying to a World Center, Girl Scouts are continually expanding their horizons through travel.  Join us for a special council organized travel trip or travel the world as a troop.  For more information about these exciting opportunities, please visit

    From the Birth of Girl Scouting to the World Centers

    The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace in Savannah, Georgia, is a fantastic place for Girl Scout Juniors and older to visit. Reservations and council approval are required to take a group of girls to visit the birthplace, and most educational opportunities are booked at least a year in advance, so book early! Families and individuals, however, do not need to reserve a tour in advance.

    In addition, four lodges are available in England, Mexico, Switzerland, and India for use by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, each with hostel or dormitory-style accommodations. The world centers are operated by WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) and offer low-cost accommodations and special programs. They are also a great way to meet Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world. 

    Closer to home, check with your council to see whether council-owned camps and other facilities can be rented out to the group of girls with whom you’re working.

    TOP ↑

    dot border

    Reengaging Girls

    The end of this trip doesn’t have to be the end of a girls’ time with Girl Scouting. Some girls participate in Girl Scouting in all sorts of ways; others are excited only about travel. What lies ahead for them—and for you?

    • Girls who have never been involved in any other way besides travel may be looking for longer-term opportunities closer at home. Younger Cadettes may want to participate in resident camp, while Seniors and Ambassadors—as well as older Cadettes—will want to hear all about upcoming series and events at your council.
    • Girls who have traveled once tend to want to travel again. Be sure girls are aware that other travel opportunities, such as GSUSA Destinations, will exist for them in the years ahead. The great experiences they had on this trip may have prepared them for longer and more global trips in the future.
    • Girls may want to hear about the Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards, which are opportunities for them to make a dramatic difference in their communities—and to have plenty to brag about with college admissions officers, too!

    And what about you? If you’re ready for more opportunities to work with girls, be sure to let your council know how you’d like to be a part of girls’ lives in the future. Are you ready for a year-long volunteer opportunity with a troop? Help organize a series or event? Take another trip? The possibilities are endless.

    TOP ↑

    dot border


    Throughout the long history of Girl Scouts, certain traditions remain meaningful and important and are still practiced today. This section gives you an overview of annual celebrations in the Girl Scout year, as well as other revered Girl Scout traditions. Be sure to look in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and Leadership Journeys for more information on songs, outdoor activities, historical anecdotes, traditions, and ceremonies.

    dot border

    Girl Scout Holidays

    Girl Scouts celebrate several special days each year, which you’re encouraged to include in your group planning.

    • February 22: World Thinking Day (the birthday of both Lord Baden-Powell and Lady Olave Baden-Powell, the originators of Boy Scouts and the Scouting Movement worldwide). World Thinking Day, first created in 1926, offers a special day for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from around the world to “think” of each other and give thanks and appreciation to their sister Girl Scouts. February 22 is the mutual birthday of Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement, and his wife, Olave, who served as World Chief Guide. Today, girls honor World Thinking Day by earning the World Thinking Day award, which focuses on an annual theme selected by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. They also show their appreciation and friendship on World Thinking Day not only by extending warm wishes but also by contributing to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund, which helps offer Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting to more girls and young women worldwide.
    • March 12: The birthday of Girl Scouting in the USA. The first troop meeting was held in Savannah, Georgia, on this date in 1912. Note that Girl Scout Week begins the Sunday before March 12 (a day known as “Girl Scout Sunday”) and extends through the Saturday following March 12 (a day known as “Girl Scout Sabbath”).
    • April: Volunteer Appreciation Week centers on the long-standing National Girl Scout Leaders’ Day (April 22), but expands the definition of volunteers beyond troop leaders to include all the volunteers who work in so many ways on behalf of girls in Girl Scouting.
    • October 31: Founder’s Day (Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday)

    TOP ↑

    dot border

    Signs, Songs, Handshake, and More!

    Over time, any organization is going to develop a few common signals that everyone understands. Such is the case with Girl Scouts, which has developed a few unique ways to greet, acknowledge, and communicate, some of which are listed here.

    GS Sign

    Girl Scout Sign 

    The idea of the sign came from the days of chivalry, when armed knights greeted friendly knights by raising the right hand, palm open, as a sign of friendship. To give the sign, raise the three middle fingers of the right hand palm forward and shoulder high (the three extended fingers represent the three parts of the Girl Scout Promise). Girls give the sign when they:

    • Say the Promise or Law.
    • Are welcomed into Girl Scouts at an investiture ceremony that welcomes new members.
    • Receive an award, patch, pin, or other recognition.
    • Greet other Girl Scouts and Girl Guides.
    Girl Scout handshake

    Girl Scout Handshake

    The handshake is a more formal way of greeting other Girl Scouts, and is also an appropriate way to receive an award. Shake left hands and give the Girl Scout Sign with your right hand. 

    Girl Scout Quiet Sign

    Quiet Sign

    The quiet sign can be extremely useful to you as a volunteer, so teach it to girls during your first meeting. Raise your right hand high with an open palm. As girls in the group see the sign, they stop talking and also raise their hands. Once everyone is silent, the meeting can begin. 

    Girl Scout Friendship Circle

    Friendship Circle 

    When we stand in a friendship circle, we stand with our right hand over our left. Sometimes, we have the Friendship Squeeze, when we gently squeeze hands in turn all around the circle.

    Do A Good Turn Daily  Be Prepared

    Girl Scout Slogan and Motto 

    The Girl Scout slogan is, “Do a good turn daily.” The Girl Scout motto is, “Be prepared.”

     trefoil with treble clef 


    Whether singing around a campfire or joining a chorus of voices on the Mall in Washington, D.C., Girl Scouts have always enjoyed the fun and fellowship of music. In fact, the first Girl Scout Song Book, a collection of songs put together by girl members, was published in 1925.

    Songs can be used to open or close meetings, enhance ceremonies, lighten a load while hiking, or share a special moment with other Girl Scouts. For tips on choosing and leading songs, go to A variety of songbooks are also available for purchase. Check out your council shop or visit the GSUSA online shop.

    TOP ↑

    dot border

    Time-Honored Ceremonies

    friendship circle

    Ceremonies play an important part in Girl Scouts and are used not only to celebrate accomplishments, experience time-honored traditions, and reinforce the values of the Girl Scout Promise and Law, but also to encourage girls to take a short pause in their busy lives and connect with their fellow Girl Scouts in fun and meaningful ways. Many examples of ceremonies—for awards, meeting openings and closings, and so on—are sewn right into the Journeys, including ideas for new ceremonies girls can create.

    Girls use ceremonies for all sorts of reasons. Here’s a brief list, in alphabetical order, so that you can become familiar with the most common Girl Scout ceremonies:

    • Bridging ceremonies mark a girl’s move from one grade level of Girl Scouting to another, such as from Junior to Cadette. (Note that Fly-Up is a special bridging ceremony for Girl Scout Brownies who are bridging to Juniors.) There are learning modules, as well as lots of ideas and resources about the bridging process and ceremonies in the Volunteer Learning Portal ( for each level.
    • Closing ceremonies finalize the meeting, with expectations for the next. A closing ceremony may be as simple as a hand squeeze while standing in a circle.
    • Court of Awards is a time to recognize girls who have accomplished something spectacular during the Girl Scout year.
    • Flag ceremonies can be part of any activity that honors the American flag.
    • Girl Scout Bronze (or Silver or Gold) Award ceremonies honor Girl Scout Juniors who have earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award (Cadettes who have earned the Silver Award; Seniors or Ambassadors who have earned the Gold Award), and are usually held for a group and combined with council recognition.
    • Girl Scouts’ Own is a girl-led program that allows girls to explore their feelings and beliefs around a topic (such as the importance of friendship or the personal meaning they get from the Girl Scout Promise and Law) using the spoken word, favorite songs, poetry, or other methods of expression. It is never a religious ceremony.
    • Investiture welcomes new members, girls or adults, into the Girl Scout family for the first time. Girls receive their Girl Scout, Brownie Girl Scout, or Daisy Girl Scout pin at this time.
    • Opening ceremonies start troop meetings and can also begin other group meetings.
    • Pinning ceremonies help celebrate when girls receive grade-level Girl Scout pins.
    • Rededication ceremonies are opportunities for girls and adults to renew their commitment to the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
    • Golden Gate Bridging is a special ceremony and celebration for girls bridging from Juniors to Cadettes, and is held in late April or early May. Bridging Juniors join 5,000 of their sisters and cross into older girlhood on one of the most famous bridges in the world! Girls from across the country celebrate in true Northern Californian style on the Golden Gate Bridge and conclude the day with a party just for them. The girls play games, do crafts, and partake in activities that reflect the adventures that lie ahead as Cadettes on Crissy Field. Check out GSNorCal for event and registration information.

    About Ceremonies

    No One Right Way, Make New Traditions

    Like much of Girl Scouting, there are few hard and fast rules for planning and carrying out ceremonies; what really counts is that the occasion has special meaning for the participants. There are traditional ways to do things, but it is also fun to create some new traditions. Some occasions call for pull-out-all-the-stops formality, and on other occasions, ceremonies can and should be more light-hearted and informal.

    Mix & Match

    Ceremonies can be mixed and matched or used in combination with each other. For example, a bridging ceremony might (and usually does!) incorporate an opening ceremony, a flag ceremony, a rededication ceremony, as well as using a closing ceremony.

    Be Creative

    Ceremonies can be edited to fit the situation, and become even more meaningful with a little personalization.

    Girl Planning

    The most important thing to remember when planning ceremonies is that they are for the girls. The most meaningful ceremonies to the girls will be the ones that they have planned themselves. Remember that ceremonies are opportunities for the girls, not the adults, to express themselves, and that is far more important than it is to put on a polished production.

    If you’re working with girls who want to host a special ceremony or event—large or small—be sure girls are leading the event-planning, instead of sitting by passively while you or another adult plans the event. To get girls started, ask them to think about the following questions:

    • What sort of event do we have in mind?
    • Who is our intended audience?
    • Will it be outdoors?
    • Does the audience have to be invited, or can anyone come?
    • What’s our main topic or focus?
    • What’s our objective—what do we hope to accomplish at the end of the day?
    • Will one or more speakers need to be invited? If so, who? How do we find speakers?
    • Where will the event take place?
    • Is there a charge for this venue?
    • Is the venue large enough to accommodate the audience?
    • Do we have to obtain permission to use this venue? If so, from whom?
    • Are there adequate facilities for the audience? If not, how much will extra portable toilets cost, and how many do we need?
    • Is there adequate parking or a drop-off point for girls?
    • Do we need tables? chairs? podiums? microphones? speakers?
    • What sort of entertainment will we provide?
    • Will we provide or sell refreshments? If so, what kinds?
    • How many chaperones will we need? Who will we ask?
    • What emergency care do we need to plan for? Is the event large enough that local police and fire departments need to be notified?
    • Do we need to purchase additional insurance for non–Girl Scouts?
    • How will we advertise the event?
    • What decorations will we use?
    • Will we give away any keepsakes?
    • Will we charge for the event?
    • Who will set up the event?
    • Who will clean up after the event?
    • How will we determine whether the event was a success?

    Ideas for girl-led events with family, friends, and community experts are also available in the Leadership Journey adult guides!

    TOP ↑

    dot border

    Historic Uniforms and Memorabilia Collections

    The GSNorCal Heritage Committee has collections of historic US Girl Scout uniforms, International uniforms, and camp uniforms. They may be rented for fashion shows, book reports, or service unit or troop events. Juliette’s Trunk is also available for check-out, which includes hands-on activities to help girls learn about old-time Girl Scouting. You can also borrow historic handbooks, a game about Juliette Low and other memorabilia. Contact the Heritage Committee in your area.

    Heritage Museums

    GSNorCal’s Heritage Committee also maintains a Girl Scout Museum at Camp Bothin in Marin County. Contact the Heritage Committee to arrange for a tour (a two-week notice is recommended.) Several of our council offices also have historical displays and change them throughout the year.  The Heritage display at the Alameda office is adjacent to the retail store and the displays in San Jose and Chico are in the lobby areas. These displays may be visited during regular store/office hours.

    Heritage Committee Contact

    Please visit the council website at for more information or contact or phone (800) 447-4475 ext. 0 to be put in touch with the right people to assist you.

    TOP ↑

    dot border