It can be easy to think about Girl Scouting as a local activity that girls participate in to learn leadership skills and improve the community around them. In fact, Girl Scouting can be all that AND show girls how they are connected to the global community.
Diane Saber, Global Action Volunteer for GSNI and Lifetime Girl Scout Member, writes about how to incorporate global awareness into Girl Scout programs. Today she focuses on how to getting involved in destinations.
As the girls progress through Scouting, horizons for bigger and more exciting travel/global interaction increase. When the girls reach Cadette level, they are able to travel with Girl Scout destination programs. destinations are trips organized by individual Councils throughout the US, may be domestic or international and are the perfect convergence of travel with global awareness opportunities. The girls may know other girls on the trip or they may be with new friends from all over the country. The destinations program are special because the girls can “travel with purpose” to a wide variety of places under the guidance of Girl Scouting, independent of the Troop and without a parent. Experienced Trip Advisors and Chaperones accompany the girls on these highly organized, safe ventures. The trips are so exciting that often parents and family wish to come along! However, these trips are devoted to the girl-only experience and most include purposeful interactions with the local community or engagement in a Take Action project.
In June, 2012, I was the Trip Advisor for our Council’s destination trip to Savannah, Georgia to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouting in the US. For over 1 ½ years, our group of 16 girls planned for this trip, meeting every other month to organize fundraisers and discuss our priorities for the trip. This included planning and writing a pinning ceremony at the Juliette Low Birthplace House, in a special garden filled with memories of Scouting through the years. Through the process of planning and execution of the trip, the girls were presented with many new experiences and responsibilities. From getting to the breakfast room on time to free time excursions, the girls (ages 13 to 17) were continually learning personal responsibility and expanding their global awareness. Interestingly, food was a focal point of discussion. Savannah is known for excellent southern cooking and seafood delights. New foods, such as black-eyed peas and grits as well as fresh crab were not the typical fare of these Scouts! We had numerous discussions about how foods reflected the location, weather and personality of the local residents to a community. Somehow, the commonality extended to mac and cheese, which is a universal favorite. Meanwhile, I savored the fresh crab. By the end of the trip, the girls were engaged with the history of Savannah as well an intimate connection to our roots as Girl Scouts. On the last day, we visited the gravesite of Juliette Low. I was very impressed that these bubbly girls entered the area with great reverence, humility and silence. As a light rain fell, each girl wanted to be photographed with the grave marker, looking somber and serious. Girls who typically would be flashing “selfies” against a background of peace-sign hand poses were taking in the quiet serene and significance of the person. This trip taught not only global awareness but the living lesson that one person can make a world of difference.
Programs such as destinations are perfect for our Girl Scouts. They are coordinated by Girl Scouts and their partner travel agencies; they promote girl involvement and planning; they engage in purposeful activities which teach or involve community service; they bring together girls from a wide variety of backgrounds, so that everyone meets new friends and engages with new people. Most importantly, travel and global opportunities are what KEEP YOUNGER SCOUTS INTERESTED IN GIRL SCOUTING. As girls go through their Junior High years, they wish to set their sights on bigger and better goals. Much of this involves new experiences they would never have without Girl Scouting. Encouraging global awareness and travel with programs such as destinations, as with all Girl Scouting “travel”, is key to keeping the girls interested and helping form global citizens of tomorrow. These trips DO involve understanding environmental, social, cultural, political, and economic relationships between people. Besides, they are a lot of fun!