Has the Girl Scout Journeys Program Been Worthwhile?
Many Girl Scout leaders have tried the new Journeys program, and are left to wonder if it is a journey worth taking. One of the goals of being a Girl Scout is learning about leadership. According to the Girl Scouts of the USA, there are three keys to leadership:
Discover: Girls care about, inspire, and team with others locally and globally.
Connect: Girls understand themselves and their values and use their knowledge and skills to explore the world.
Girls act to make the world a better place
At a Brownie Leader training meeting I attended, we were told that the new Journeys program, which has been around since 2008, was intended to build strong leaders. It was also felt that too many troops earn badges for the sake of earning badges, and all they do is arts and crafts at each meeting.
They believed this because there also a big concern about the large decrease in troop size when girls get to middle school. Being involved in scouting is not considered “cool”. Perhaps being leaders and activists might change that notion.
The Journeys program is supposed to combat this decrease and increase the girls’ knowledge of her world and making it better. However, it has left many leaders shaking their heads and wondering if this journey is worth taking.
How is the Journeys Program Different from Past Scouting Experiences
In the past, scouts of all levels participated in activities to earn Daisy petals, Brownie Try It’s, Junior patches, and Bronze, Silver and Gold awards for Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors. These activities had their own individual requirements that had to be met. They were hands on and kept scouts actively engaged.
Girls became leaders by taking over parts of the troop meeting, by leading activities, by becoming independent in their activities and through all of the outdoor camping experiences. As they get older, they are handed more of the responsibility of running a troop meeting.
That has all changed with the Girl Scouts Journeys program.
Problems with the Journeys Program
When I became a Daisy leader in the fall of 2008, I took a look at the Daisy Journeys books and could not believe what I saw. With twenty-four years of teaching experience, I could not envision a bunch of five and six year olds doing anything with this book. It was all reading! With the exception of my one first grade Girl Scout, none of the kids could read. We met after school, and the last thing these chiloreb needed was to be sitting and be read to. They needed activities and fun!
So we spent two years earning petals, doing community service projects, going on field trips, and (gasp) the occasional arts and crafts project simply for the fun of it.
At the monthly leader meetings, I spoke with other Girl Scout leaders and I heard nothing positive about Journeys. It was more a source of frustration than anything else.
When my girls bridged from Daisies to Brownies, we did Try-Its that were relevant to them and also fun.
While researching which Brownie journey to do with my troop, I came across many unhappy comments about the program in general. I decided not to do a Journey at all.
Leaders have older girls quitting on them, because now Journeys is required to earn the higher level awards. The older girls did not like the new program. So instead of keeping older Girl Scouts, the Journeys program chased some of them away.
The leaders of younger troops are constantly changing the program in order to make it more interesting to younger girls. The GSA should be providing materials to leaders that actually work. Leaders have lives outside of Girl Scout and should have to try and reinvent the wheel in order to finish a journey. Materials provided in the past were mostly useful, and could adapted or augmented depending on what the troop and leader’s needs were.
According to those who have used the program, Journeys is similar to school curriculum. And unlike school, where making up work is mandatory, it is not in Girl Scouts. How do you tell parents that if a girl misses a meeting, she will not earn her Journeys patch for the entire six to eight weeks (or even longer) unless she makes up the missed work? Parents are busy enough and so are the kids. If you missed a Try it session, then you did not get the patch. You can get most done in one troop meeting.
In other reviews, leaders time and again have complained about the books being too wordy, to much writing, not enough engaging activities. The girls became restless and fidgety, and the troop meetings became boring to them.
Journeys also presents a problem with multi-level troops. In the past, the patches in each level overlapped, so a leader with several levels could do activities that met the requirements for both levels. Not so with the Journeys program. Since there is no overlap, a leader of a multi-level troop must do two separate things at all times. Who really wants to do that for months at a time?
Solutions to the Girl Scout Journeys Program
What can leaders do about the new Journeys program? First, you can order all of the patches you need for your troop now, before they become unavailable. You can also order fun patches to substitute for the other kinds of patches if you cannot order them.
You can also follow the old program for as long as you are able to. Handbooks are available all over the internet.
You can also voice your opinions to the Girl Scouts of America, or your local council. If girls are quitting over the Journeys program, it needs to be known.
Is the new Girl Scouts Journeys program a journey worth taking? As a leader, you will need to do your research and decide if it is right for your troop.
Update March 2014
I did the aMuse Journey with my fifth grade Junior troop this past fall. While some of the activities worked, others fell flat. By the end, all of us could not wait for it to over. The only reason I did it was because I wanted my troop to earn the Bronze Award, and this was a requirement. It was not a rousing success, although I did try my best to make it work.
Welcome to the Daisy Flower Garden Journey Help for Leaders
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