My blog is over five years old, and to date, the post that has received the most comments, is the one about Girl Scout Journeys (You can read about it here).
In the four years since that post came out, the opinion of the Journeys program still has not changed among leaders. When you think about it, many of the leaders who first complained about the program are, more than likely, not leading anymore. As the collective memory of what the old Girl Scout program used to be like starts to fade as new leaders join, it is interesting to note that the sentiment over the Journeys program still consistent.
Both leaders and the girls are not huge fans.
What continues to be my issue with the Girl Scout Journeys program all these years?
It stems from my days as an elementary school teacher. Back in 1994, my school district piloted a new math program. Over the summer, my colleagues and I met to discuss it and make plans, and even with decades of collective teaching experience, we could not make sense of what we had to do.
When the school year started. others felt the same way, both in our school and across the district. My school was most vocal about the quality of the program and we were made the bad guys by doing so.
After the first year, test scores for math plummeted. We were told to “make the program work” and had to secretly weave the old program with the new, but not let anyone else in the district know. My colleagues and I spent hours and hours trying to fix something we knew was not right for our students.
Five years later, the district hired a consultant at a very significant cost, and the bottom line was that he determined that the program did not work (something we teachers had been saying from the beginning).
That is how I have felt with the Journeys program all these years.
When I first encountered it, I could not believe that this was for five and six year olds. It was so developmentally inappropriate!
Over the years, leaders have had to “fix” the program and reinvent each Journey to make it work for their troops (much like I had to do with my math program two decades ago). Bless the leaders in Girl Scout Facebook groups and in forums who have shared what they have done to help others. But why should unpaid volunteers need to fix a program?
I was, at least, a salaried employee who spent time making a program work, not an unpaid volunteer. If this program is so wonderful, why has it not been embraced enthusiastically since it was introduced in 2008? Why doesn’t Girl Scout leadership hear us?
Which leads me to my next point.
The Journeys program is touted as one that builds leadership skills. It is supposed to be in depth so the girls can get something out of it. However, there are many Councils that offer “Journey in a Day” programs.
If you can do a Journey in a day, why would you need to buy the books and spend months of meeting time doing one?
After all these years, no matter what forum I read or Facebook group I venture into, no one has ever said, “Boy, I love the Journeys program!” Yes, there are some who feel it is not too bad if you tweak it a bit and there are some leaders who have done a phenomenal job making it work so their girls could love it.
But shouldn’t that have been the job of the Girl Scout organization that created the program?
How is it that a program that girls must done in order to achieve the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards be done in a single day? The old badge program was shoved aside in order for this one to take it’s place. If it is so significant, how is it that all you need is one day and you are good to go?
I am curious if any of you have done a Journey in a Day and if what you did “stuck” to your girls.