Girl Scout Leadership Experience

Chapter 3 quick links

Three Keys to Leadership
Fun with Purpose
The National Program Portfolio
Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards
Teen mentoring and Older Girl Advisory Board
Traditions and celebrations
Additional resources
Girl Scout Shop

Now that you’re a Girl Scout volunteer, you belong to a network of more than 1 million adults who share an important commitment:  to help Girl Scouts deliver its mission: building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. During your time as a volunteer, you will play an important role in building girl leaders by guiding girls through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE). The GSLE is the foundation of all Girl Scout program activities, describing what girls do in Girl Scouts, how they do it, and how they will benefit from their participation.

Through our national curriculum, girls learn about themselves and their values, and stretch to seek and meet challenges beyond what they might in other settings. They also learn to connect with friends, family, and community to create positive relationships and band together on issues of importance to them. Girls are challenged to look and think critically at the world around them and consider how they can best address significant problems they are passionate about solving. When girls participate in the GSLE, they experience 5 measurable leadership benefits or “outcomes” – ultimately resulting in Girl Scouting achieving its mission. No matter where girls live or what their age or background, as Girl Scouts they are part of a powerful, national experience.

What Girl Scouting does for girls

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.

Three Keys to Leadership

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

  • When girls lead in their own lives, they Discover their values, skills, and the world around them. This helps them grow more confident and use their abilities to help themselves and others.
  • When girls lead in their communities, they Connect with other people in a multicultural world. This helps them care about, inspire, and team with others locally and globally.
  • When girls lead in the world, they Take Action to make the world a better place. They learn how to identify problems in their community and create solutions to fix them.

Girls of all ages can make the world a better place. Watch the videos below to see Girl Scouts in action!

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Juniors Help Historic Building Save Energy

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.

Fun with Purpose

Girl Scouting isn’t just about what we do; it’s also about how we do it. We ask adult volunteers to engage girls in three ways that make Girl Scouting unique:

  • Girl-led: Girls of every grade level take an active role in determining what, where, when, why, and how they’ll structure activities. You’ll provide age-appropriate guidance and encourage them to bring their ideas, make choices, and lead the way as much as they can.
  • Learning by doing: This means that girls have active, hands-on experiences and a chance to think and talk about what they are learning as a result of the activities.
  • Cooperative learning: Girls learn so much about themselves when they team up on common goals. Look for ways to help each girl contribute her unique talents and ideas to the team, help all girls see that differences are valuable, and coach girls to resolve conflicts.

Watch a six-minute video about the Three Processes

We call these three methods “processes.” 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 (there’s more information about those later in this chapter), make sure you get the adult guide that accompanies the Journey. The 3 Girl Scout Processes are already built into the activities. When you do the activities as written, you are already using the processes. 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 Girl Scouting 101, our online introduction to volunteering with Girl Scouts. (Contact your council for the password.) If you’ve already watched Girl Scouting 101, you may want to review its “What Girl Scouts Do” section to brush up on the processes.

One last tip about using the processes: Girls’ time in Girl Scouting isn’t a to-do list, so please don’t ever feel that checking activities off a list 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.


The National Program Portfolio

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.

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.

We know that not every example or suggestion we provide 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—we trust you to 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.

Getting started with the National Leadership Program through Journeys

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.

In July 2018, we rolled out more new Journeys in the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK). These new Journeys are adding on to the choices that girls and volunteers already have. Every Journey (whether new or old) is topic-specific, includes hands-on activities, and incorporates Discover, Connect and a Take Action project. Depending upon the content, some Journeys are shorter and some are longer, but they have been made simpler to use and easier to deliver.

 As of July 2018, 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!
  • 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 VTK for Daisy, Brownie and Junior ONLY

It’s Your Planet—Love It:

  • Available for purchase in council stores (adult guide and girl book) for Daisies–Ambassadors
  • On the VTK for Daisy, Brownie, and Junior ONLY

 It’s Your Story—Tell It!:

  • Available for purchase in council stores (adult guide and girl book) for Daisies–Ambassadors
  • On the VTK for Daisy, Brownie, and Junior ONLY


  • Available on the VTK for Brownie and Junior as nine sessions in total, which includes three outdoor badges plus three Take Action meetings.
  • Available on VTK for Daisies as seven sessions in total, which includes two outdoor badges plus three Take Action meetings.
  • Available for Multi-level for Daisies-Juniors on the VTK.
  • Cadette, Senior, Ambassador, and Multi-level will be available for Back to Troop as PDFs on the VTK.

Think Like an Engineer:

  • Available on the VTK for Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador and Multi-level. The Journey is six sessions in total, including three Take Action meetings.

 Think Like a Programmer:

  • Available on the VTK for Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador and Multi-level. The Journey is six sessions in total, including three Take Action meetings. 

Think Like a Citizen Scientist:

  • Available on the VTK for Daisy, Brownie, Junior, and Multi-level. The Journey is six sessions in total, including three Take Action meetings.

Girl Scouts of the USA provides digital troop tools just for you! Be sure to check out the Volunteer Toolkit, 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. Simply click on My GS, then Volunteer Toolkit on your council’s website home page www.

Helping girls choose their Journey

Get an overview of each Journey at Once the girls make their choice, review the sample session plans in the adult guide – and work with the girls to customize the activities!

The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting

The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting is the handbook and badge book for each program level. Each girl can have her own book, or the group can share. Based on the program level, it includes:

  • Program level handbook
  • Petal and badge instruction booklets
  • Requirements to earn the following:
    • Special opportunity awards
    • Meritorious awards
    • Teen mentoring awards (including Leader in Action or LiA and Program Aide or PA)
    • National leadership awards
    • Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards

Extra skill-building badges

Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors who want to earn more badges can add up to three extra skill-building badge sets, each tied to a Journey theme. Each set includes five badge instruction booklets.


Emblems and Patches

In addition to the leadership awards tied to the Journeys and the 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).
  • Participation 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, they are worn on the back of a girl’s sash or vest.

You can purchase emblems and patches—along with badges and leadership awards—at your council’s Girl Scout shop or by visiting the GSUSA online shop. There, you’ll find a cool list of the earned awards for each grade level and a link that shows you exactly where girls can place their emblems, awards, badges, pins, and patches on their vests and sashes.

Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards

The 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, and community networking and leadership.They also engage girls in building networks that not only support them in their award projects, but in new educational and career opportunities. All requirements and details are located in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, and online at

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 application that takes girls step-by-step through the Gold Award requirements. Visit

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 designees. 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 in Colorado are doing and 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.

Highest Awards Celebrations

Girl Scouts of Colorado recognizes girls who complete their Highest Award in the spring at several regional Highest Awards Celebrations throughout the state. To be recognized in the spring, and to ensure prompt notification of a celebration in your region, all work must be completed and council must be notified using the online form by March 1 of each year. Access notification forms via the forms and resources section of the website.

My Gold Award web app

Girl Scouts provides an online app that takes girls step-by-step through the Gold Award requirements:

All girls who intend to pursue the Gold Award must first attend a Gold Award training and then register at gogold. Next, girls will be guided to training, and work with a mentor and Gold Award Committee to propose their project ideas. All Gold Award projects must be completed, including final presentation to the regional Gold Award Committee, by March 1 of each year for a girl to be eligible to be recognized at that year’s Highest Awards Celebration.

Additional Highest Awards resources can be found on our website:

Teen Mentoring Awards

Leader in Action (LiA)

  • Cadettes (6th-8th grade) can earn this Journey activity award by helping a Brownie troop on their Journey. It is a pre-requisite to becoming a Program Aide. Learn more in The Cadette Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and Brownie Journey adult guides.

Program Aide (PA)

  • A Program Aide is a Cadette, Senior or Ambassador (6th-12th grade) who is trained to lead activities, songs, games, and programs for younger girls, under adult supervision. To become a PA, girls attend training and complete an internship. PA training includes specialization options. PAs at overnight camp must have finished the 8th grade, and all PA requirements must have been completed prior to attending camp. Pre-requisite: LiA Award

Counselor-in-Training (CIT)

  • A Counselor-in-Training mentor’s younger girls in an overnight camp setting and builds skills toward becoming a camp counselor. CITs complete a two-week CIT 1 Training camp session, and then are eligible to attend CIT 2 camp sessions. Senior Girl Scouts who have completed 9th grade, and Ambassador Girl Scouts are eligible. Participation in this program is not a prerequisite for future employment at GSCO camps.


Older Girl Advisory Board

  • The Older Girl Advisory Board (OGAB) is a group of Seniors and Ambassadors who serve as the council’s voice for all girls in Girl Scouts of Colorado. Through girl-led activities, the board will enrich the lives of girls through leadership projects, mentorship, and living by the Girl Scout Law. By lending a voice to a movement that wants, needs, and values girl-led contributions, these young leaders will play a significant role in shaping the ongoing work of Girl Scouts of Colorado.
  • This select group of girls work as an advisory group that partners with staff members to provide feedback on projects ranging from mentoring to program development to older girl engagement. OGAB members make recommendations to, and share their ideas with, GSCO’s Board of Directors. By facilitating youth-adult partnerships, these leadership opportunities allow OGAB members to influence decision-making processes in our council.

Getting girls outdoors

  • 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. For more information, visit
  • Outdoor-themed badge activities are included in myGS as meeting plans for Brownies and Juniors. Check the required trainings in Chapter 2 related to outdoor travel.
  • Girl Scouts is dedicated to getting girls outside. The outdoors are an important part of our organization, and thanks to generous funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA made enhancements to the Volunteer Toolkit to help volunteeres and girls get outdoors as they earn badges.

What are these new VTK enhancements?

Several Daisy, Brownie, and Junior activities have been updated with options for taking a troop activity outside. And don’t worry — if weather won’t cooperate on your meeting day, you can toggle back to the non-outdoor focused version of the meeting plan!

Why move a meeting outside?

Taking activities outside is a crucial first step that lets girls gain confidence and familiarity with the outdoors so they can progress to more adventurous and challenging outdoor activities as they advance in Girl Scouting.

Just as they had to learn to crawl before they could run, girls must become comfortable spending an hour outdoors before they can move on to canoe trips, camp outs, and backpacking weekends. These activities aim to help girls and their leaders begin their outdoor adventures in short but fun ways. (It’s what we call progression in Girl Scouts!)

In your VTK, follow these directions to see a detailed description of a Get Girls Outside.

Select the title of the activity in the Meeting Agenda list where a tree appears. In the Agenda pop-up modal, select the Get Girls Outside! radio button and hit “save” to add it to your meeting plan. You will know that the Get Girls Outside! activity has been added to your Meeting Plan when the tree is green in the Meeting Plan and Year Plan.

Outdoor program volunteers

The outdoor program department is always welcoming new volunteers! Volunteer responsibilities range from assisting at one-day events to planning and directing a week-long day camp to instructing specialized activities like boating and archery! Please contact Anna Danila at

Download the Outdoor Opportunities in Colorado guide.

Outdoor equipment reservations

Girl Scout troops and groups are able to reserve outdoor equipment at a low cost out of our Denver office. Reserve equipment here (link to For questions on equipment rental, email

Traditions and celebrations

  • Throughout the long history of Girl Scouts, certain traditions remain meaningful and are still practiced. Look in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting and Journeys for more songs, traditions, and ceremonies.
  • Girl Scouts celebrate several special days each year:
  • Feb. 22: World Thinking Day Learn all about this special day!
  • March 12: The birthday of Girl Scouting in the USA. Girl Scout Week begins Sunday before March 12 and ends Saturday following March 12.
  • April 22: Girl Scout Volunteer Day (celebrated during Volunteer Appreciation Week)
  • October 31: Founder’s Day (Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday)
  • Ceremonies 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 are included in Journey sessions!
  • Investiture ceremonies welcome new members into the Girl Scout family.
  • Opening ceremonies start meetings and can also begin other group meetings.
  • Closing ceremonies finalize the meeting, with expectations for the next.
  • Flag ceremonies can be part of any activity that honors the American flag.
  • Bridging ceremonies mark a girl’s move from one program level to the next.
  • Fly-Up is a special bridging ceremony for Girl Scout Brownies who are bridging to Juniors.
  • Court of Awards is a time to recognize girls who have accomplished something spectacular.
  • Pinning ceremonies help celebrate when girls receive grade-level Girl Scout pins.

Hosting a Girl-Led Event

If you’re working with girls who want to host an 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!


Songs can be used to open or close meetings, enhance ceremonies, or share a special moment. Songbooks are available for purchase at GSCO offers a Songs and Games training as part of our e-learning platform.

Girl Scout Slogan, Motto, Signs, and Handshake

The Girl Scout Slogan is, “Do a good turn daily.” The Girl Scout Motto is, “Be prepared.”

The Girl Scout Sign is a symbol of friendship. To give the sign, raise the three middle fingers of the right hand (representing the three parts of the Promise) palm forward and shoulder high. Girls give the sign when they say the Promise or Law.

To make the quiet sign, raise your right hand high with an open palm. Teach the group that when they see the sign, they stop talking and also raise their hands. Once everyone is silent, the activity can begin/continue.

The Girl Scout Handshake is a formal way to greet other Girl Scouts or receive an award. Shake left hands and give the Girl Scout sign with your right hand.

Additional resources

  • There are lots of additional resources you can use to enrich the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. The GSUSA website features a variety of fun activities. Start exploring at

Spanish-language resources

  • The It’s Your World—Change It! and It’s Your Planet—Love It! Journey series are available in Spanish. These new books are for Spanish-speaking volunteers to use with Spanish-speaking and bilingual girls:
  • Daisies: Las Girl Scouts Daisies Cultivan su Futuro!
  • Brownies: Las Girl Scouts Brownies Cambian El Mundo!
  • Juniors: Las Girl Scouts Juniors Apuntan a las Estrellas!
  • At Girl Scouts of Colorado we have a variety of resources available in Spanish for those Spanish-speaking volunteers to use with Spanish-speaking and bilingual girls. See below for an overview of our program and resources in Spanish.
  • For any questions please contact Korina Padilla, Volunteer Development Manager, at Girl Scouts of Colorado: 303-607-4813 /

Recursos en Español

Girl Scouts of Colorado event calendar

Search for local events, trainings, and camps on Girl Scouts of Colorado’s event calendar.

You can request to post an activity on the event calendar here.

Anytime Activities and Community Service Activities

Girl Scout Shop

You can purchase Journeys, The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, uniforms, badges and lots of other fun items at the Girl Scout shop. To make it easy for volunteers and families, starter kits are available. Shop hours change throughout the year, for information on current hours.  Or visit  for the online shop.

Shop Location
1485 S. Colorado Ave., Suite 260
Denver CO 80210

Order by email at

Order by phone 855-472-7026

Order online 

Courier Service

Professional courier service is offered to deliver your shop order to Colorado Springs, Loveland, Pueblo and Grand Junction!

$3/customer flat rate

Orders delivered on the third Tuesday of every month (orders DUE Friday prior to delivery day)

Opportunity Grants

Opportunity Grants are available for the basic Girl Scout uniform pieces, Journeys, and Girl Guides, as well as many council-sponsored activities for families in need. Apply at