What is a Girl Scout Journey?

A Girl Scout Journey is a fun and challenging experience spread over a series of sessions (usually 6-8 but with the potential to last far longer) . The Journey, which follows a designated theme, has a clear starting point (an invitation to explore and take action) and a definite ending point (opportunities to enjoy closure through reflections, rewards, and celebration). Along the way, girls are following a purposeful trail that allows them to have fun, get wiser, and experience all the joys of being a traveler (meeting new people, exploring new tastes and cultures, gathering keepsakes, making memories) while being able to carry this all in one “suitcase”- their Journey book!

Journey books take girls at every grade level through a series of Discover, Connect, and Take Action experiences, with emphasis on inviting girls to "Take Action" on issues they care about. These books also contain stories; inspirational ideas; information about Girl Scout history, traditions, and values; facts and games; and provide space for girls to collect their own ideas and memories.

"How to" books - or guides for adult volunteers--that correspond to each of the girl books have also been created. These guides offer plenty of support, including sample sessions to tailor with girls, to help carry out the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. 

Are all 15 national leadership outcomes reflected in each Journey book?

Each Journey addresses six to eight outcomes including at least one of each of the Discover, Connect, and Take Action outcomes. Each adult guide contains a chart displaying outcomes tied to that particular Journey so adults will always know the intended benefits to girls.

What is the retail cost of the Journey books?

All grade-level girl books cost $7. The adult sets, consisting of a girl book packaged with the adult guide, are $15. Girl Scouts of the USA are aware of the importance of being cost-conscious and have worked to provide excellent value. It is ideal for every girl to have her own book to fully experience the Journey.

 Do the Journeys need to be done in any particular order?

There is no particular order or rush to complete the Journeys. They can be done in any order.

 Can girls earn awards with the Journeys?

Yes. Girl Scouts at each of the six grade levels have a chance to earn official awards as they complete steps along the Journey. The awards are designed to be worn on the front of the Girl Scout uniform. Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes have the chance to earn several badges along the Journey. Seniors and Ambassadors can mark their accomplishments at the culmination of a Journey with a pin or iron-on badge.

The steps for earning the awards are clearly explained in the "how-to" books for volunteers created for each Journey. Girls have information about the awards in their books, too. The Journey books for girls and adults also have suggested reflection and ceremony ideas related to earning the awards. The goal is to provide opportunities for girls to fully understand and celebrate the achievement and growth the awards represent. These books provide girls with the choices to have them lead their own experiences.

 What is the LiA (Leader in Action) award for Cadettes?

Girl Scout Cadettes have an opportunity to put their skills to work assisting Girl Scout Brownies on their quest. Brownies (and their volunteers!) will appreciate having Cadettes along on the Journey - and Cadettes will benefit from having the opportunity to have a position of responsibility. The steps for Cadettes to earn the LiA are described in the Girl Scout Brownie Adult Guide and online. It gives them the opportunity to do direct service with Brownie girls. Your local Girl Scout council staff are a great resource to identify Cadettes who might be interested in earning this award!

 Can a Journey activity be used to meet a badge requirement?

Journey activities cannot be counted as completion of a badge activity requirement. The Journey awards are based on participation in a whole series of inter-related activities and discussions tied to the intended outcomes and are woven throughout the book. So rather than each experience in a Journey meeting a specific requirement, each contributes to the overall experience. As has been the tradition in Girl Scouting, girls always learn best when they spend the additional time needed to meet various badge requirements.

 How will home-schooled or independently registered Girl Scouts use the Journey materials?

 Girl Scouts who are on their own - and the adults who guide them - are encouraged to network with other Girl Scouts in their communities. One of the three critical processes of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience is cooperative learning. Sharing some of the discussions and experiences with others will enrich the Journey and provide girls with opportunities to increase team-building and networking opportunities important to the leadership keys of Discover, Connect, and Take Action. Individual girls just like a troop can buy the book and work through the Journey at their own pace.

 How will multi-grade level groups use the Journeys?

Let's use the It's Your World-Change It! series as an example. In these Journeys, "Taking Action" provides a unifying theme for multi-grade level groups. Girls at multiple levels can use their own level-appropriate Journey, yet they will be able to support each other in accomplishing goals for their Take Action project. All the Journeys encourage girls to share or "pass forward" some of what they are learning and experiencing with other girls. Multi-grade groups offer a wonderful setting for this to happen.

 What is the difference between Journey(s) and the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting (GG2GS)?

Journey(s):

  • Core program
  • Develop girls’ leadership from all different angles (offer a 360 degree view of leadership)
  • Girls explore the three keys to leadership: Discover, Connect, Take Action
  • Journeys address many of the 15 outcomes in one resource

GG2GS:

  • Complementary resource of what’s available to the girl at her specific grade level including higher awards, Journeys and skill builder badges
  • Badges build specific skills (focusing on one specific topic)
  • Badges will primarily address the “strong sense of self” outcome (when girls become more confident) in the Discover key. Some badge outcomes will also address a few of the Connect and Take Action keys.

 

How do we pick which Journey to do? 

There is one Journey from each series available for each level-so at every level girls have three choices! Girls can pick and choose which Journey(s) they wish to experience at every level. They may choose to focus at every level on one series, or dabble in all three completing various Journeys at each level from the three different series. Each Journey is a series of activities grouped around a theme. Each offers an invitation to explore and take action and an opportunity to reflect, reward, and celebrate. Get the girls’ input on which Journey they want to work on. Have the appropriate Journey books at your next planning meeting to help girls make a decision. You could also have 1-2 activities from each book ready to facilitate with girls to give them an idea of what the Journey is about to help them make a decision.

 How long does it take to complete a Journey? How long is a typical Journey meeting?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Each Journey is unique and girls need to decide what they want to get out of their experience. Do they want to earn an award, all of the awards, complete the Take Action project? How involved will their Take Action project be? The time spent on a Journey will also depend on what additional side trips (field trips) or related badge work girls want to do. Typically, it takes 6-8 months (depending on the amount of sessions you do) to earn one Journey.

 How often does your troop meet? Every week, twice a week, twice a month, once a month? Consider the other non-Journey related activities girls enjoy as well throughout the year such as the Girl Scout Cookie Program Activities, council events, community service, planning for a troop trip, etc. when determining the length of time to devote to completing a Journey. Journeys have been done over the course of a full year, within a couple of months, or even over a few weekends. Journey meetings can happen multiple times throughout the year to meet your group’s schedule, from 45-60 minutes per meeting to a weekend retreat.

 Do girls have to complete every activity in the girl book and adult guide?

No! Each Journey is unique and girls need to decide what they want to get out of their experience. Do they want to earn an award, all of the awards, complete the Take Action project? Do the girls want to do side trips (field trips), earn related badges? Girls do not have to complete every activity from the adult guide and/or girl book. If a troop decides what activities they will be working on during meetings, girls can continue to add to their experience by doing anything else from the Journey that interests them on their own. If girls are doing the Journey to fulfill the pre-requisite requirements for the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, or Gold Awards, they must complete all awards including the Take Action project.

 How do we know what has to be done to earn the awards?

Each Journey gives direction for each award within that Journey on what activities need to be completed to earn a particular award. Encourage the girls to look in their girl book for the award guidelines (often found in the front or back of the book) in addition to adults referencing the awards section of the adult guide for specifics. There will be specific emblems on pages in the girl book that says that they need to complete this activity to earn part of the award.

 Can we adapt the activities in the girl book and adult guide?

Absolutely! Do you have a group that is high energy? How about very creative? Or enjoys hands-on activities rather than book work? Feel free to tailor the activities to meet the needs and interests of your group. While adapting activities you can still reach the outcomes and goals of the sessions.

 Journeys feel like schoolwork and our girls don’t like to read from the books. Suggestions?

Ask the girls for their input on making their experience better. Is it the theme of the book they don’t like, if so do a different Journey. Have they been sitting all day in school and are sitting again working directly out of the Journey with pens, if so create a more hands on learning by doing experience by adapting the activity to meet the needs of your group. The girls do not have to read directly from the book. Is there a way to adapt the activities/messages in the book to be more hands-on so it feels less like school work? Brainstorm and determine side trips that the girls are interested in that relate to the Journey they are working on. Ask yourself if the experience is being girl-led, do the girls feel it is being girl led? If not, adapt delivery-refer to the adult guide for tips on incorporating the girl-led process. The general idea and understanding of the Journey is what we want the girls to understand. They decide how they want to receive that information.

 How do you ensure outcomes are met when adapting activities?

First identify what the goals and outcome(s) are for a particular Journey session or activity and what the sample indicators are of what it might look like when that outcome is being achieved. When adapting activities to meet the needs of your girls (i.e. more hands on, high energy, etc.) think about the possibilities of seeing the indicators. Think about what you could do differently, or is NOT seeing them okay (i.e. in some instances you might not see the indicator at the exact moment you are doing the activity, but you may see it in the future). Use the National Leadership Outcomes page in each of the adult guides to aid in determining what activities achieve which outcomes.

 How does the adult guide work with the girl book?

The adult guide does not go hand-in-hand with the girl book. Try looking through the girl book first to get an idea of the topics the activities relate to, and then look at the adult guide, or visa versa.

Sample sessions in the adult guide are provided to show one way to organize the Journey into a specific number of sessions. Make adaptations and mix and match activities as necessary if following the lesson plans -OR- choose not to follow the lesson plans at all and work side-by-side with your girls to create a plan for going on the Journey based off of their interests and desires. There is no one way of doing it correctly.

 There are activities in the adult guide that are not in the girl book and visa versa. If girls only do one or the other they will be missing out on the experience. It is encouraged that if girls want to complete activities from their girl book that are not in the adult guide that they do so. The adult guide often offers ways to introduce and set up activities in the girl book, giving specific language that adults can use so that the activities are more meaningful for the girls. It explains how the focus of the Journey is important to girls’ development. It further explains the steps to the awards girls can earn.

 Throughout the book there are creative suggestions, resource suggestions, field (side) trip ideas, ways to expand a topic, etc. It provides tips for adults to ensure the Journey is girl-led.

 Do you have to finish the Journey in the number of sample sessions indicated in the adult guide?

Absolutely not! The sample session plans offer just one example of how to sequence activities from the adult guide and activities from the girl book to bring the Journey experience to life for the girls. Don’t feel you and the girls must do everything in the sample sessions or in the order given. Think of Journey activities as pieces that can be mixed, matched, and coordinated according to the needs of your girls. They are one of the many resources available to you and the girls.

 Does each girl need her own Journey book?

Each girl deserves her own book! Book costs are less or comparable to books parents would buy from a bookstore. Troops can use troop funds or proceeds from the product program activities to pay for a portion or all of each book.

 Do adults need the adult guide?

Yes! The adult guide provides a wealth of information on using the 3 processes, sample sessions, activities that are not in the girl book, ideas for reflection, how to plan the final ceremony, details on carrying out the Take Action project, traditions, and so much more! Encourage Girl Scout Juniors-Ambassadors to use the adult guide to choose activities for their Journey in addition to them using their girl books. Also, Girl Scout Juniors-Ambassadors leading activities/sessions may find the additional information provided in the adult guide very helpful as they plan their activity/session.

How do you incorporate the three processes: girl-led, learning by doing, and cooperative learning?

It’s not just “what” girls do, but “how” they are engaged that created a high-quality Girl Scout experience. All Girl Scout experiences are built on 3 processes that make Girl Scouting unique from school and other extra-curricular activities. Using the three processes together ensures the quality and promotes the fun and friendship so integral to Girl Scouting.

 In the girl-led experience, girls will lead their experience playing an active part in figuring out the what, where, when, how and why of their activities. Adults will coach the girls to lead the planning, decision-making, learning, and fun as much as possible. This ensures that girls are engaged in their learning and experience leadership opportunities as they prepare to become active participants in their local communities.

Girlslearning by doing, a hands-on learning process that engages them in continuous cycles of action and reflection that result in deeper understanding of concepts and mastery of practical skills. As they participate in meaningful activities and then reflect on them, girls get to explore their own questions, discover answers, gain new skills, and share ideas and observations with others.

Finally, cooperative learning, girls will work together toward shared goals in an atmosphere of respect and collaboration that encourages the sharing of skills, knowledge, and learning.

The adult guides offer tips throughout the book to help volunteers maximize opportunities for girl leadership. More information can be found in the adult guide on the three processes.

 How does Take Action work and how do we tie it into the Journeys?

Opportunities for girls to Take Action are built right into the Journey! Each Journey’s Take Action project is themed to the Journey series. It’s important to note that the Journey girl book and adult guide may not call it “Take Action.” For example, in MEdia it’s called a “Remake Project,” in WOW! Wonders of Water it’s called a “SAVE Project.” Each Journey has ideas for the Take Action project, some in the girl book, some in the adult guide, many in both places. Take Action is different than community service in that it: 1) addresses a root issue, 2) has a measurable impact, and 3) creates lasting change-sustainability! With progression between the Girl Scout levels, there is similar progression in girls’ understanding and incorporation of these three concepts in their Take Action projects. A service project is one in which the girl works for the community. I.e. Collect canned goods for her community food bank. A Take Action project is a project in which the girl works with her community. I.e The girl organizes multiple food drives a year and get different organizations to take it over every year.

 How can individual girls do Journeys? – This should be combined with the home school girls in the earlier question.

Girls wishing to do Journeys on their own happens similarly to girls working on a Journey in a group. She selects her Journey, uses the three processes: girl led, learning by doing, and cooperative learning, determines what her goals are (does she want to earn the awards, does she need to earn the awards within a specific time period, etc.), and adapts activities and/or incorporate side trips as she prefers. She does this by partnering with an adult. The adult should have the coordinating adult guide to the girl book.

 How can we tie badges, cookies, field trips and council events into Journeys?

In keeping with the “Journey” theme, “side trips” such as badges, cookies, camping, and events are the natural complement to Journeys. A Journey gives girls a consistent experience that ties their whole year together. Badges, cookies, camping, and events enable girls to further explore topics of interest. Once you understand the topics/themes of the Journey, you can identify community organizations or businesses that can expand girls’ Journey experiences. Throughout the adult guide you will find field (side) trip ideas. Before girls even open their Journey books, ask what the Journey’s theme means to them. Maybe the theme ignites a discussion that helps the girls chart their course for the year! Probe to find out what the girls are most interested in accomplishing and enjoying over the year. This is your chance to encourage girls to dig deeper:

                            Which badges can the group work on to deepen their skills in this area, or another area of interest?

                            Can they organize and plan a field trip to find out more about the topic?

                            Are there events that tie into their interest?

                            Can the girls find an expert in the field to invite to their meetings?

Each adult guide also has more tips for customizing the Journey. Did the Junior Agent of Change Journey spark an interest in animals or animal shelters? Maybe girls will want to earn their Animal Habitats or Flowers badges, or earmark money from the Girl Scout Cookie Program Activity to fund a Take Action project benefiting their local shelter. Are your Daisies inspired by the stories in the Welcome to the Daisy Flower Garden Journey? Maybe they’ll want to visit a farmer’s market, eat garden veggies, or explore a working farm! There is a world of possibilities waiting for your girls. 

Do you have to complete the Journey before starting the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award?

Yes. The Journey is the pre-requisite requirement towards earning the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards and must be completed before any other work on the awards begins. Note: The Take Action project associated with the Journey is not the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award project. The award project’s topic may organically relate to the theme of the Journey or the Journey Take Action project, but it is a separate project. Junior girls must complete one Journey as a pre-requisite for their Bronze, one Cadette Journey for their Silver and 2 Senior or Ambassador Journey’s for their Gold. If the girl has already earned her Silver then she only has to complete 1 Journey when going towards her Gold Award.

 Is it possible to complete a Journey and Girl Scout Bronze Award in two years?

Yes. Most girls/troops complete their Journey in 4th grade and their Bronze in 5th grade. Depending on the frequency of meetings and time in meetings devoted to other Girl Scout activities and whether or not the group meets over the summer it is also possible for girls to complete a Journey and earn the Girl Scout Bronze Award in one year.

 How can families engage in Journeys?

Kick off the Journey with a family celebration. Relate what the girls will be doing in the Journey to their life at home or at school.  Think about specific activities or sessions where parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles can help out and showcase these opportunities at the beginning of the Journey. Use the information and special handouts built right into the adult guides to let families know what the Journeys are all about, i.e. the outcomes, and the impact Journeys have in building leadership. More involved families mean more support for volunteers and increased awareness about how Girl Scouting benefits girls!

 Create "blow up" posters of the snapshot pages in the adult guide and set them up on easels. Family members can easily check out what their girls will be doing and may see a session where they can help out. Encourage families to participate in the girls' Take Action project. Plan a closing ceremony at the end of the Journey so families can see all of the practical skills and values that girls have experienced. Have fun displaying examples of what girls learned and explored.