Different age groups navigate through learning experiences in Girl Scouts; High School versus Elementary School opportunities

Erica Otte, Reporter

Girl Scouts is an organization that “allows elementary to high school age girls to learn about and experience new things,” says a North Harford High School Girl Scout in eleventh grade, Annika Peterson. 

    A North Bend Elementary School Girl Scout in fourth grade, Taylor Malloy, agrees with her, however, she also brings a new, younger perspective to the table. For her, the highlight of being a Girl Scout is how it has allowed her to “learn a lot about nature and different places.” Girl Scouts have given both of them great opportunities, especially during a pandemic where there are few chances for social interaction.

    In Peterson’s perspective, this activity has given her the opportunity to learn many things, such as being “a camp counselor. My experience in working with younger girls has taught me a lot of leadership skills and communication skills.” 

    Additionally, this has taught her several life lessons and, overall, “how to fill in leadership roles and has made me [Peterson] more confident in my[her] abilities.” This contrasts with Malloy’s thoughts on the club due to their age. Peterson has been able to gain leadership while Malloy has been given new knowledge of nature and new places. Nonetheless, both scouts developed new skills within the duration of this club.

    According to the official Girl Scouts website, Girl Scouts allow girls to earn awards to show their dedication to not only the activity they pursue but also to their community. The gold, silver, and bronze awards recognize these talents through certain experiences. The highest award, the gold award, is an award given to those that cause lasting change. An example of this would be increasing access to local fresh food or providing access to books to the less fortunate. 

    The gold, silver, and bronze awards are given based on age/ level of Girl Scout (Junior to Cadette, then to Seniors and Ambassadors). Peterson states, “scouts at certain levels after they have reached the basic requirements for each reward and taken on a larger project,” then begin to be awarded with higher awards. Peterson has “gotten the bronze and silver awards” so far. Malloy adds that “Bronze, Silver & Gold Awards are the highest honors a Girl Scout can earn.  All three awards give you the chance to do big things while supporting an issue you care about.” 

    Other than those three important awards, scouts are also honored with “badges and pins that can be earned by doing activities, but the bronze, silver, and gold awards are the only prestigious ones,” says Peterson. 

    As an elementary schooler and new scout, Malloy believes that badges are “a great way to explore interests and learn new skills”, so she can remember those experienced by them. “So far I have badges for cookie sales and for Veterans Day. They have badges for a bunch of things and some I want to earn are Animal Habitats, horseback riding, camper, staying fit, and musician.”

    Reflecting on her time as an Elementary school Girl Scout, Peterson explains “Elementary school Girl Scouts introduced me to a lot of outdoor skills, especially outdoor cooking,” which is very similar to Malloy’s experience. However, “from [Peterson’s] experience, high school girl scouts is very leadership-oriented compared to elementary school girl scouts”, showing the difference between the two age groups. 

    When asked what advice she would provide for a younger Scout, Peterson responded with “I would tell a younger Girl Scout to stick with it throughout high school because it is really fun being in a troop with all my friends from elementary school.”

Malloy during her virtual Girl Scout meeting catching up with her friends.