A Girl Scout is a Model Citizen

Told by council historian, Carol Macola

From 1920 to 2011, Girl Scouts could earn a Citizen Badge, that was recognizable by its eight-pointed star symbol. The name varied from Citizen to Junior Citizen to Active Citizen to Model Citizen, but the look of the badge only differed in the colors, varying from black and white on the khaki uniform to green and white and finally blue and white.

The badge was first presented in the 1920 handbook. However, Juliette Gordon Low’s 1913 How Girls Can Help Their Country included a whole section on patriotism, requiring Girl Scouts to know about their town and state to earn their Tenderfoot rank. A few more requirements about the American flag’s history and display rules were incorporated into the Second Class rank.  

The new Citizen Badge in 1920 was a requisite badge for First Class rank. A Girl Scout had to know what constitutes a citizen, what are our government’s responsibilities, what are our President’s duties, and how laws are made. Qualifications to vote, secret ballots, and party affiliation were also part of the badge work. Remember, women only got the right to vote in 1920! 

In 1934, the badge was renamed Junior Citizen and was green and white. The requirements were more directed at community responsibilities and activities. A Girl Scout had to know who to contact for different emergencies—without a telephone or 911! She had to know public buildings and places of interest in her community and draw a map or give clear directions to get there. She even had to explain how garbage is disposed of in her community and how she could help keep areas clean and attractive.

In the 1938 Girl Scout Program and Activities and the 1940 Girl Scout Handbook, Junior Citizen requirements returned its focus to patriotic symbols, how one becomes a citizen, and how one can help with the responsibilities that accompany privileges. Girl Scouts were to identify patriots in history, find out about various types of taxes, learn about voting procedures, and care of public property.

The 1947 handbook added three mandatory activities: community service, a presentation on what democracy means, and what the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights provides. In 1953, the name was changed to Active Citizen. The requirements were tweaked to incorporate the government and patriotic activities with community life activities.

With the new Junior Girl Scout program in 1963, the badge had fewer requirements but still focused on “finding out about and putting into practice the responsibilities of a citizen of the USA.” Active Citizen in 1977 brought in the blue and white symbol. Then, in 1980, Girl Scout Badges and Signs had both Junior Citizen for Juniors with the eight-pointed star and Active Citizen badge for Cadettes with a state capital symbol, expanding the importance of knowledge about our government and our communities.

In 1990, the name Junior Citizen carried on for Junior Girl Scouts; Cadettes now had Interest Projects. 

The last change came in 2001, with the name changed to Model Citizen. The familiar blue and white eight-pointed star remained the same, as the badge was now connected to the part of the Girl Scout Law with a promise to “make the world a better place” by understanding what it means to be a model citizen.

By 2011, the Citizen Badge was transformed so Girl Scouts at all levels can still strive to become active and model citizens. Today, the badges are named Good Neighbor (Daisies), Celebrating Community (Brownies), Inside Government (Juniors), Finding Common Ground (Cadettes), Behind the Ballot (Seniors), and Public Policy (Ambassadors).

The Evolution of the Simple Meals Badge

The number of badges offered over the last 110+ years of Girl Scouting is truly amazing. You can find everything from architecture to zoology, but only one badge has survived for 110+ years: the Cook Badge (now known as the Simple Meals Badge).

Several other badges have had a long tenure. The First Aid Badge and the Citizenship Badge started in 1938, and both continue to this day. The Cyclist/Bicycling Badge and the Swimming Badge started in 1912, but the Cyclist/Bicycling Badge ended in 1980 and the Swimming Badge in 2010. The Birds Badge has been around off and on during our 110+ years. Close to the length of the Cook Badge, the Art Badge has also been around for the past 110+ years, but it has had many different focuses, including painting and clothing design, to name a few.

The first Cook Badge in How Girls Can Help Their Country said that Girl Scouts must know how to:

  • wash up
  • wait on a table
  • light a fire
  • lay the dishes correctly for a table for four
  • clean and dress a fowl
  • clean a fish
  • make a cook-place in the open
  • make tea, coffee, or cocoa
  • state the approximate cost of each dish  
  • cook two kinds of meat
  • boil or roast potatoes and another vegetable
  • boil rice  
  • make two salads 
  • preserve of berries or fruit, or can them

The requirements in the 1920, 1929, and 1933 versions of the Girl Scout handbook are essentially the same. They add knowing how to cook eggs and operate a gas stove (if available). 

With the end of the depression in view and the war in Europe threatening to involve us, the Intermediate level for the Cook Badge was started in 1938. The Intermediate level of Girl Scouts is what we now refer to as our Junior and Cadette Girl Scout levels. Back then, the Intermediate level was for Girl Scouts in grades fourth through eighth grade. The Senior level was for Girl Scouts in ninth through twelfth grade. 

The 1941 handbook had the revisions for the Intermediate level and showed the new badge. A Girl Scout had to complete ten of the fourteen requirements and five of the chosen activities required cooking. The requirements also changed with the focus on planning menus and nutrition.  

The 1950 handbook listed twenty activities, with a Girl Scout having to complete ten to earn her Intermediate Cook Badge. Eleven out of the twenty activities required cooking.

In 1963, Juniors were now an official Girl Scout level, and the handbook had ten requirements to earn the badge. A Junior Girl Scout had to complete all ten to earn the badge, but only three required cooking.  

The 1990 Junior handbook renamed the badge “Exploring Healthy Eating” and showed the badge with a red border as part of the Worlds to Explore Girl Scout Badge Program. It had nine activities, with six, including two mandatory cooking activities, required to earn the badge.  

The 2001 Junior handbook renamed the badge to “Let’s Get Cooking” and returned to a green border. This badge had ten activities, and a Junior Girl Scout must complete six activities to earn the badge. Five of these activities required cooking, so cooking has made a comeback compared to the last version, where only two activities required cooking!  

In 2011, the Junior badge was renamed to “Simple Meals” and pictures a steaming pot on the badge with a purple border. All five steps must be completed, but there are three choices for each step; only one of the choices for each step must be completed to earn the badge—four of the five steps require cooking. 

The Simple Meals Badge has changed over the years to reflect what our society at the time thought Girl Scouts should know. Today, very few of us have to dress our own chickens or turkeys, and our recipes are more likely to come from an internet search than a magazine, but we still want Girl Scouts to be able to cook for themselves.

To earn your Simple Meals Badge, check out the activity book and badge available for purchase here.