Girl Scouts has been building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place for more than 110 years! We embrace and cherish our longstanding traditions while encouraging girls to blaze new trails for a better, brighter tomorrow.
Now it's time for your Girl Scout to make her mark by finding ways to participate and take part in upcoming events. Browse the Girl Scout Terms to get familiar with our lingo and review the Badges & Patches and SWAPS sections to hit the ground running at your first Girl Scout activity!
Girl Scout Troop
Join an existing troop or work with others to start your own. Troop participation brings together like-minded youth in your area to take the journey of Girl Scouts together. Make new friends, keep the old, and adventure together!
Individually Registered Girl Scout (IRG)
Prefer to chart your own course? Participating as an individually registered member provides all of the benefits of Girl Scout membership at your own pace. IRMs have the same access to events, programs, cookies, and camp, all on your own terms.
Whether you’re a Girl Scout ready to earn your next badge and make new friends at an art workshop, or an adult volunteer looking for training opportunities, we’ve got an upcoming event to help you do it.
Girl Scout Camps are open to all members during the summer months. Join as an IRG to have access to camp registration and be a part of the camp community! Camp listing and registration available in February.
Explore something new with a patch program! Pick from several available topics and complete on your own or with a troop.
Whether it's Brownies packing their first weekend bag or Seniors boarding a plane to check out Girl Scout history in Savannah, Georgia—you'll build lifelong skills like oraganization and time management.
As the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world, the Girl Scout Fall Product Program and the Girl Scout Cookie Program are foundational experiences during which girls learn to think like entrepreneurs and develop vital business skills. Plus, proceeds from each program power fun and enriching experiences for Girl Scouts year-round!
Just-in-Time Guides are step-by-step instructions provided to caregivers and leaders throughout the year on important topics.
Overview of safety responsibilities of a volunteer.
Retail - Purchase a New Uniform (PDF)
Reference guide on purchase a uniform and how to shop with council.
Product Programs (PDF)
Overview and benefits of participating in the product programs.
Overview of events and who can attend.
Some of the best memories are made at Girl Scout events. An event is a Girl Scout-sponsored activity where members come together as a larger group to complete an activity resulting in skill-building outcomes. Examples include badge workshops, themed experiences, travel, community service, and camp. It's our goal to create "fun with a purpose" by incorporating the Girl Scout Leadership Experience into every event. Events are offered in all four of our core pillars: Life Skills, Entrepreneurship, Outdoors, and STEM.
View the Event FAQ for more information including event basics, participating information, registration questions, and payment & cancellation.
Badges vs Patches: Badges are awards given to girls once they've completed all badge requirements and vary for each age level. Badges are to be placed on the front of the girls' vests or sashes. Patches, often referred to as "fun patches" represent fun activities that troops can participate in that are not designated as official GSUSA activities or requirements. Patches are placed on the back of the girls' vests or sashes.
Bridging: When girls move from one program grade level to the next; may include an award for the girls completing the bridging award requirements, and likely will include a ceremony.
Bronze Award: The highest award Girl Scout Juniors can earn. Earned by girls in the 4th-5th grades. It recognizes efforts in a wide range of Girl Scout experiences and a commitment to working to better ones' life and the lives of others.
Brownie: A Girl Scout Brownie is a Girl Scout in 2nd and 3rd grades. One of six levels of Girl Scouting.
Cadette: A Girl Scout Cadette is a Girl Scout in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. One of six levels of Girl Scouting.
Campout: Overnight camping with outdoor trained and experienced volunteer leaders.
Color Guard: Girl Scouts who carry, guard, raise, and/or lower the flag.
Cookie Program: An entrepreneur program for Girl Scouts that takes place annually each February & March with the sale of our iconic Girl Scout Cookies.
Cookie Program Business Skills: These are the 5 skills every girl learns by participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program. It's not just a fundraiser, it's financial empowerment: (1) Goal Setting; (2) Decision Making; (3) Money Management; (4) People Skills; and (5) Business Ethics.
Council: One of Girl Scouts of the USA's local affiliates, with authority over Girl Scouting in a specific section of the country. Currently, there are 112 Girl Scout Councils in the USA.
Counselor in Training (CIT): Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador who has taken a training course to learn camp counselor skills.
Daisy: A Girl Scout Daisy is a Girl Scout in kindergarten and 1st grade. One of six levels of Girl Scouting.
Dakota Dough: Earned rewards for participating in a product program, based on sales activity. Dakota Dough is spent toward Girl Scout merchandise through retail services, for membership fees, and/or for program experiences.
Day Camp: Program conducted within a 12-hour period for a minimum of 2 days. Girls register as individual participants and are placed in temporary units for program activities.
Destinations: Trip or event beyond girls' own troops and councils. Destinations fall into one of five different categories: international, outdoor, science, people, or getaways. All destinations events provide an opportunity for individual members to broaden their perspectives and give Girl Scouting enhanced visibility.
Fall Product Program: An entrepreneur program for Girl Scouts that takes place annually each fall with the sale of nuts, chocolates, and magazine subscriptions.
Founder’s Day: The birthday of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts, October 31.
Friendship Circle: Symbolic gesture in which Girl Scouts form a circle by clasping each others' hands, right arm over the left arm and sing a song. Often used as a closing ceremony.
Girl Led: Girls play an active role in planning activities, while adults provide guidance, ensuring that planning, organization, and set-up are age-appropriate. Evaluation of all activities is done jointly with girls and is integral to a high-quality Girl Scout experience.
Girl Scout: A member of Girl Scouts of the USA or another country's national Girl Scout organization. The U.S. organization grants membership to any girl who has:
Girl Scout Adult: An adult member of Girl Scouts of the USA. The organization grants membership as a Girl Scout adult to any person who has:
Girl Scout Birthday: The official birthday of Girl Scouting is March 12, 1912. This is when the first meeting was held.
Girl Scout Grade Levels: Also known as program age levels.
Daisy (Grades K-1)
Brownie (Grades 2-3)
Junior (Grades 4-5)
Cadette (Grades 6-8)
Senior (Grades 9-10)
Ambassador (Grades 11-12)
Girl Scout Handshake: Formal way of greeting other Girl Scouts by shaking with the left hand, while giving the Girl Scout sign with the right hand.
Girl Scout Leader: A registered Girl Scout adult, background checked and trained volunteer who meets regularly with girls to help them achieve the purposes of Girl Scouting.
Girl Scouts Leader’s Day: A day of appreciation for adult volunteers in Girl Scouting held on April 22 every year.
Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE): The engine for everything girls do in Girl Scouting. The experience identifies all the elements that need to be in place for Girl Scouting to achieve its mission; Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. When Discover, Connect, and Take Action activities are combined with the Girl Scout Processes of Girl-Led, Learning by Doing, and Cooperative Learning, girls achieve the desired and expected short-term leadership outcomes, ultimately resulting in Girl Scouting achieving its mission.
Girl Scout Troop: Basic unit in Girl Scouting consisting of girls, adult leaders, and troop committee members. One of six pathways for girls to participate in Girl Scouting.
This group of girls and adults (minimum of 5 girls and 2 adults) who meet on a regular basis to engage in Girl Scout Program activities. Troops are organized according to “Grade Level” which places girls together with others in the same social/developmental stage.
Girl Scout Week: The week containing March 12, the Girl Scout birthday, the anniversary of the first Girl Scout troop meeting in the United States in 1912. This observance is celebrated each year, starting with the Sunday on or preceding the 12th.
Gold Award: The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest and most prestigious award that Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors can earn. This award recognizes the leadership, efforts, and impact girls have had on their communities. Requires 80 hours of planning and service, as well as one Journey completed. (2 Journeys completed if Girl Scout Silver Award was not previously earned.)
gsLearn: Accessed through myGS (the top right corner of the website), gsLearn is a place for volunteers to find training and courses. It will be pre-populated with items that should be viewed.
GSDH: Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons; your Girl Scout council. Heroes on the Horizon: Purchases made through Girl Scout product programs by customers to be donated to a GSDH-approved partner such as the military, local heroes, or other not-for-profit organizations.
Higher Awards: Consists of the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award. Honored to Girl Scouts who complete a Take Action project in their community.
Individually Registered Girl Scout (IRG): Registered Girl Scouts who are not part of the traditional troop program. These girls still work towards the same badges and activities, they simply do not belong to a troop. They can join other girls at council-wide events and can participate in all Girl Scouts has to offer.
Journeys: 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!
Juliette Gordon Low: The founder of the Girl Scout Movement in the United States. Also known as Daisy.
Juliette Gordon Low’s Birthday: Special Girl Scout day celebrating Juliette's birthday on October 31.
Junior: A Girl Scout Junior is a Girl Scout in 4th - 5th grades. One of six levels of Girl Scouting.
Just in Time Guides: Timely guides that contain step-by-step instructions for volunteers to perform certain tasks related to product programs. These guides are available on the website (Cookie Resources For Volunteers) and will be shared by the Product Program Team as appropriate.
Member Services: A team of GSDH employees dedicated to providing volunteers, girls, and parents with excellence in customer service by responding to inquiries on any topic related to Girl Scouting. Member Services is available Monday through Thursday from 8:00am-5:00pm and Fridays 8:00am12:00pm and can be reached by phone at 800-666-4121 or through the Contact Us page on the website.
Membership Year: October 1 through September 30.
National Headquarters: The Girl Scout national organization's center of operations. In July 1992, GSUSA moved its national headquarters to 420 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Patches: Also known as "fun patches." Supplementary insignia received by girls for simply participating in an event or activity. Girls wear participation patches and pins on the back of their Girl Scout uniform.
Resident Camp: Sessions are generally for at least five days (and four nights) and may be multiple weeks in length. The program is operated and staffed by the camp, and the supervision of campers is a camp responsibility. Campers stay overnight, and camp is responsible for campers 24 hours a day.
Senior: A Girl Scout Senior is a Girl Scout in 9th and 10th grades. One of six levels of Girl Scouting.
Service Center: Council facility where staff offices and some council shops are located. GSDH has four service centers located in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Fargo, and Bismarck.
Service Unit: Geographic unit of troops/groups within a region which facilitates delivery of services and the Girl Scout program to girls and adults.
Silver Award: Highest award earned by Girl Scout Cadettes. It recognizes efforts in a wide range of Girl Scout experiences and a commitment to working to better one's life and the lives of others.
Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM): Girl Scouts introduces girls of every age to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences relevant to everyday life. Whether they're discovering how a car's engine runs, how to manage finances, or exploring careers in STEM fields, girls are fast-forwarding into the future.
SWAPS: The tradition of Girl Scouts exchanging keepsakes. Referred to as " Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere."
Tag-Along: Child who is not a registered Girl Scout or a registered Girl Scout not of the grade level for the specific program or event.
Trefoil: International symbol of Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting. The trefoil represents the three parts of the Girl Scout promise.
Volunteer Essentials: An online repository (accessed through the website) available to volunteers with valuable resources and important information related to product programs including safety, finances, and product program details.
Volunteer Tool Kit (VTK): Accessed through myGS (the top right corner of the website), VTK is a place for volunteers to customize meeting plans to earn badges related to product program and entrepreneurship.
World Thinking Day: February 22, the birthday of both Lady Baden-Powell, World Chief Guide, and her husband, Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Boy Scouts. First celebrated in 1927, the day was renamed at the 1999 Girl Guide/Girl Scout World Conference. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts all over the world use the day to think of each other and exchange greetings, learn about other countries, and give to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund.
You’re earning badges, patches, and awards—but where do they belong? Here’s the rundown on what goes where on your tunic, sash, or vest.
Flag patch, council name patches, and troop numbers go on the front right, in that order, starting at the top.
Badges and Journey awards always go on the front, starting at the bottom. On a vest, badges go on the right and Journey awards on the left. On a sash, badges go below Journey awards.
Fun patches from trips, experiences, and patch programs always go on the back.
Find a full list of badges Girl Scouts can earn by visiting the Badge Explorer.
SWAPS stands for “Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere.” They are small tokens of friendship that Girl Scouts exchange with one another, and each SWAP uniquely reflects a fellow Girl Scout, their troop, or a memory of a special event. They’re a great way to share stories and get to know Girl Scouts from across the country and the world.
Tips for SWAPS Givers
Girl Scouts should:
Think about the kind of SWAPS they would like to receive from someone else.
Try not to spend a lot of money. Consider making something from donated or recycled material.
Be creative and take time to make hand-crafted SWAPS. (Include directions for making them if it is a craft project that can be replicated.)
Try to have one for each event participant and staff member.
Plan ahead so there's time to make them.
Make SWAPS that can be worn, used, or displayed.
Ask their group or service unit for help, if needed, in putting SWAPS together.
Make them portable. Remember, they must be carried or shipped ahead to the event, where other Girl Scouts will be carrying them away.
What To Do with SWAPS
Girl Scouts can:
Include them with thank-you letters to sponsors and those who helped with a travel event.
Keep them in a scrapbook, memory box, or shadow box.
Use them to make a quilt or other textile project.
Put pins and patches on a hat or jacket.
Start a council best-of-SWAPS collection.
SWAPS Safety and Etiquette
Girl Scouts should:
Never refuse to swap with another person.
Swap face-to-face, especially if exchanging addresses or email information.
Avoid using glass or sharp objects in SWAPS.
Follow all Safety Activity Checkpoints guidelines.
Avoid using food products, unless they are individually wrapped.