Volunteer Orientation Handbook
Girl Scout Leadership Experience
The Girl Scout program—what girls do in Girl Scouting—is based on the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, a
national model that helps girls become leaders in their own lives and as they grow. No matter where girls live or what their age or background, as Girl Scouts they are part of this powerful, national experience. As they build leadership skills, they also develop lifelong friendships and earn meaningful awards, two of many treasured
traditions in the sisterhood of Girl Scouting.
Girls tell us that a leader is defined not only by her qualities and skills but also by how she makes a difference in the world. Girl Scouting engages girls in activities around three areas that Girl Scouting believes are essential to developing leadership:
Discovering who they are and what they value
- Connecting with others
- Taking action to make the world a better place
These three areas are known as the three keys to leadership: discover, connect, and take action.
Girl Scout activities also ask adult volunteers to engage girls in three ways that make Girl Scouting unique from school and other extracurricular activities:
Girl-led: Girls of every grade level take an active role in determining what, where, when, why, and how they will structure activities. As part of the adult-girl partnership fostered by Girl Scouts, you use this process to strengthen and support girls’ empowerment and decision-making roles in activities. Your role is to provide grade-level-appropriate guidance while ensuring that girls lead as much as possible in the planning, organization, set-up, and evaluation of their activities.
- Learning by doing: Girls use hands-on learning to engage in an ongoing cycle of action and reflection, deepening their understanding of concepts and mastering practical skills. As girls take part in meaningful activities—instead of simply watching them—and then later evaluate what they have learned, learning is far more meaningful, memorable, and long-lasting. You assist girls in this process by facilitating grade-level-appropriate experiences through which girls can learn, and also by leading discussions that reflect on those experiences. When girls learn by doing, they can better connect their experiences to their own lives, both in and out of Girl Scouting.
- Cooperative learning: Girls share knowledge, skills, and experiences in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation, working together on a common goal that engages each individual girl’s diverse talents. In cooperative learning environments, people learn faster, process information more efficiently, and are better able to retain the information learned. This idea, also known as “positive interdependence,” engages girls in meaningful ways, encourages and appreciates differences in outlook and skills, and creates a sense of belonging. In your role as a volunteer, you want to structure cooperative-learning activities that will nurture healthy, diverse relationships, and also give continuous feedback to girls on those learning experiences.
When used together, these processes ensure the quality and promote the fun and friendship that is so integral to Girl Scouting. The adult guide of each journey contains full definitions of these processes and examples of how to support their use in all you and the girls do in Girl Scouting. And each girl’s journey book has these processes built right into all its activities and discussions. So as you and the girls take part in a journey, you will be using the processing without even knowing it—and you will learn by doing, right along with the girls!
More details about the three Girl Scout Processes can also be found in Transforming Leadership Continued, available online at: girlscouts.org/research/pdf/transforming_leadership.pdf
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