Girl Scouts are civically engaged, passionate about social justice, and eager to use their voices for the greater good. Girl Scouts who are not old enough to vote are not discouraged: in fact, they make calls to the community, and the country, to vote and play a part in our nation’s democratic processes.
The new Civics badges from GSUSA provide Girl Scouts an opportunity to become familiar with the United States federal, state, and local political processes, and this year, Girl Scouts from GCNWI have taken the badges on in creative ways. Just last month Girl Scouts from Service Unit 406 participated in a Democracy Badge Series online, where girls logged on to talk to local mayors and judges from their area.
Girl Scout Service Unit managers 409 also took on the challenge of shifting programs from in-person to virtual, and this year, piloted Camp Liberty, a program dedicated to educating girls about civic engagement and suffrage. Read on to hear from managers Chris Graves and Claire Mosshamer about Camp Liberty!
The State of the Girl’s Nation
Camp Liberty was inspired by necessity and ingenuity on the part of Chris and Claire. When plans for Camporee, an annual outdoor event where older girls mentor younger girls through their first camping experience had to restructure because of COVID-19 restrictions, leaders and girls were yearning for ways to stay connected and engaged.
This sparked the Service Unit managers to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances, creating a hybrid event of virtual and in-person activities designed to help girls earn the Democracy badges. The girl-led Camporee program, shifted to become “Camp Liberty.”
To Chris and Claire, the idea was a no-brainer: “It fits right in with the 100-year anniversary of the suffrage movement,” Chris explained, and educating girls on the upcoming November presidential election is especially important. She continued, “It really teaches the right type of civics that we want kids to know.”
Claire added, “We were bent on the girls not losing out on things because of the [current socially-distanced] situation. We really tried to think of different ways to deliver content to them.” Their plan is to help Girl Scouts and volunteers remain engaged in the program is whatever what they can: “Girl Scouting is really important now to get them to expand beyond their homes. It’s important for us to try and provide as many opportunities for connection as possible.”
The work of the girls and volunteers culminated in a series of in-person and virtual events, including webinars on the subjects of local suffrage movements in Oak Park and River Forest, discussions with Oak Park Village Clerk Vicki Scaman and President of the Park District of Oak Park Sandy Lenz, and an open forum with Cook County Probate Court Judge Aicha MacCarthy and local lawyer Donna Ioppolo.
The girls also modeled their own suffrage march and scavenger hunt, where smaller groups of girls hiked Camp Greene Wood and learned facts about the diverse women responsible for the passage of the 19th amendment and simulated an election among the participants.
Girls who participated (nearly 200 girls from the Service Unit!) earned their Democracy badges, as well as this year’s commemorative Suffrage Centennial Patch, both available for all ages of Girl Scouts. “We’re trying to get the girls to understand how our government works,” Chris said, “so maybe they’ll be inspired to maybe run for office, or at the very least, pay attention and be involved. We want our girls to reach high, and the only way we can do that is to try to show them what the possibilities are.”
Thank you to Chris and Claire for inspiring our Girl Scouts to dream big and participate in the future of this nation’s history!
Get out the Vote!
Our girls are using their voices to urge everyone to get to the polls tomorrow! Girl Scouts from Troop 45521 earned their Suffrage Centennial Patch by organizing their very own voting demonstration, marching their community to get the message out. Read more about the girls and their celebration of the right to vote!
Check out this PSA from Troop 75450:
Earn the Democracy Badges
Civic engagement is just one way Girl Scouts advocate for positive change and make the world a better place. And though some girls may be too young to cast a ballot, they can still mobilize their communities to take action.
Earn the Suffrage Centennial Patch!
Discover the history of women’s voting rights and civic engagement through the Girl Scout Suffrage Centennial patch. You’ll wear the patch proudly after learning about the gender barriers that have been broken and the women who broke them.