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Should your daughter join Girl Scouts?

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

How to become a Girl Scout

For a century, Girl Scouts has been providing an opportunity for girls in grades K-12 to develop new skills, talents and friendships through troop activities, camps and more. The girls learn about leadership, build confidence and character, and take action in their communities. Read on to learn more about how to join Girl Scouts and decide if the organization is right for your daughter.

What Girl Scouts do

You probably know that Girl Scouts earn badges, go camping and sell cookies. They also do a lot more. They participate in community projects that help improve their neighborhoods and protect the planet. Girl Scouts take part in unique science experiments and establish sports clinics. They camp, hike, draw, paint, cook and sew. To get an idea about what you should expect from your daughter's Girl Scout experience, visit girlscouts.org and check out what the organization does at each level, from Daisies (kindergarten and first grade) to Ambassadors (11th and 12th grades).

How to join Girl Scouts

To find a troop, start by locating the Girl Scout Council in your area on the website. From there, you'll be directed on how to find a local troop. Even if your daughter doesn't join a troop, she can register as an individual and take part in council-wide activities or sign up for Girl Scout camp.

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Too religious or too secular?

Many parents have decided to go another route because their local Girl Scout council or troop isn't providing the type of activities they believe are suited to their particular families. For example, some mothers will say their local Girl Scout troop has become too secular -- eliminating the word "God" from the Girl Scout Promise and no longer doing spiritual-related projects. On the other hand, other moms will say their troop has become too faith-based -- having prayer time, earning religious awards and holding troop meetings at churches.

The specifics vary tremendously depending on the local Girl Scout council, the individual troop leader and the sponsoring organization (if there is one). Some troops may concentrate on arts and crafts, while others may highlight homemaking activities like sewing and cooking, and still, others may be focused on the outdoors -- camping, hiking, canoeing and more. The only way to find out what your local troop is doing is to contact the troop leader directly and ask what types of activities and events the girls take part in.

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Alternatives to Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts can be a wonderful program. The organization strives to promote leadership, build girls' self-esteem, teach new skills and foster friendships. However, if you have decided against Girl Scouts for one reason or another, you do have alternatives of a similar vein. American Heritage Girls is a Christ-centered character development program established in 1995 by a group of parents looking for a wholesome alternative. Frontier Girls Club is a scout-like program for girls ages 5-18. Its primary focus is in the more rural areas of the country. Camp Fire USA (formerly Camp Fire Girls of America) welcomes both boys and girls from pre-kindergarten to age 21. It emphasizes camping and outdoor activities.

Whatever program you choose for your daughter, whether it's Girl Scouts or one of the alternatives, get involved yourself. You don't have to be a troop leader if you don't have the time or desire. But you can volunteer to help out with meetings, events and activities. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community, bond with your daughter and get to know more about the organization.

Tell Us

Is your daughter a Girl Scout? Does she belong to one of the alternatives? What do you like/dislike about it?

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