Girl Scout Leadership Experience

Chapter 3 quick links

Three Keys to Leadership
How girls learn
Girl Scout curriculum
Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards
Teen mentoring
Traditions and celebrations
Additional resources
Girl Scout Shop

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.

How Girls Learn: Three Processes

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

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Girl Scout Curriculum

Girl Scout curriculum has two main elements: Journeys and The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting. Together, these books make up the National Program Portfolio.

Getting started with the National Leadership Program through Journeys

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

  1. Choose 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 girls (and their parents/guardians) to use their imaginations to make the Journey 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 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!

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.

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. All requirements and details are located in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, and online at

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.

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 (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. Overnight Camp PAs must have finished 8th grade. 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. This award is earned by spending three weeks at an overnight camp in the summer. Senior Girl Scouts who have completed 9th grade, and Ambassador for Girl Scouts are eligible. Participation in this program is not a prerequisite for future employment at GSCO camps.


A Volunteer-in-Training is a Senior or Ambassador Girl Scout (9th-12th grade) who has an interest in mentoring a group of younger girls. To become a VIT, girls take the same training as adult leaders, plus an internship. More information is available in The Senior Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting.

For a full list of awards and details, visit

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.

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 or 303-681-6079.

Outdoor equipment reservations

If you are interested in reserving equipment for your troop’s next outdoor adventure, more information on availability and pricing can be found here.

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.


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!

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 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