There are countless ways girls can take part in Girl Scouts, even if not through the traditional troop experience. Depending on their free time, schedule, and interests, girls K-12 can join a troop or register individually as Juliettes and take on adventures that complement their needs. For many homeschool families, participating in Girl Scouts is a way to make meaningful connections in the community while taking advantage of the flexibility and excitement of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, no matter a girls’ schedule. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience focuses on four key areas: Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), Outdoors, Life Skills, Entrepreneurship, and builds girl-led programming around those elements.
For Southern Van Auken, Girl Scouts has been a gateway for her two homeschooled daughters’ to get involved in their community and she has seen their confidence bloom along the way. Girl Scout Junior Julianne and Girl Scout Brownie Hannah have been civically involved and serve their community regularly.
The girls recently attended a Virginia Beach City Council meeting to accept a proclamation on behalf of Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast (GSCCC). The girls met with Virginia Beach Mayor Robert Dyer and shared their experiences and the mission of Girl Scouting. GSCCC and Delegate Marcia Price recently led efforts to pass a resolution designating March 6-12, 2022 and every March 6-12 henceforth, to be recognized in Virginia as Girl Scout Week. This resolution comes just in time for Girl Scout’s 110th birthday on March 12, 2022.
Along with their civic engagement, Julianne and Hannah regularly take part in opportunities to serve their community.
Their mother said, “Our most meaningful service project is making lunches each month for the homeless and delivering them to People In Need Ministry (PiN) in Virginia Beach. The girls' most important insight has come from interacting with the men and women there and realizing that we wouldn't guess most of them were homeless if we saw them outside of PiN.”
She continued, “On a very local level, they started the Kindness Club in 2020 to deliver uplifting notes to our neighbors. Most recently, the girls enjoyed making Valentines for everyone on our street. It has been a wonderful morale-booster throughout the pandemic. They have also volunteered to pack meals for Beach Bags and Judeo-Christian Outreach Center and fill Christmas shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse.”
Girl Scout’s SOL aligned programming has given Southern a way to complement the girls’ curriculum with exciting badges and pins that correspond with their academics.
She said, “We began incorporating Girl Scout badges into our homeschool on a weekly basis this fall, starting with the Cookie Entrepreneur Family pin. It has been a huge success. The girls feel like they're getting a fun break from the routine, while I know they're learning everything from financial literacy to social studies to Girl Scout values. There are badges to fit any homeschool curriculum or unit study. Within each badge, there are options to match any child's interests and individual learning style.”
The girls work together to earn most badges, and often involve family and neighbors in the process.
“I've seen my children's confidence and communication skills increase as they talked with women in our faith community to earn the My Promise, My Faith pin. The Philanthropist badge was perfectly aligned with our community service projects. And Julianne earned her Brownie Wings by helping Hannah earn her Girl Scout Way badge.”
She continued, “The best part for me, as a homeschool mom, is that the badges are fun, organized activities that require little or no preparation. Badges are open-and-go, they are self-paced, they can be completed together or individually, and they are full of choices. The only hard part is deciding which badge to earn first!”
Girl Scouts gathered in the fog on Jennette’s Pier to explore maritime STEM.