Is There a Point to the Girl Scout Journeys Program?

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.

Is there a point to doing a Girl Scout Journey in a day?

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.

Spend the Day and Complete a Journey

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For those of you who are not looking forward to doing the Journey program, your local Girl Scout Council can help you!  In the mail, I recently received a brochure for all of my Council’s programs from October through March.  Interestingly, there is a Journey program for the Brownie and Junior levels of scouting.  Your girls can spend three afternoons completing their Journey, earning their patches, and for Juniors, earning the ability to go for the Bronze Award.

This is a huge plus for leaders, who do not have to spend their free time redoing the Journey to make it more interesting.  It also frees up meeting time for earning badges, doing community service projects, or just doing a fun craft for the sake of doing one!

If this kind of event interest you, promote it with your troop via emails.  If enough girls do not register, the program will be cancelled.  If too many register, your girls will be locked out of it.  Girls who do not attend can do that Journey on their own if they are so inclined.

I am looking into this for my troop!

Online Resources to Help You With the Girl Scout Journeys Program

Did you know that there are online resources to help you with the new and improved Girl Scout Journeys program?

On the national level, the Girl Scouts of America website has help for Daisies, Brownies and Juniors here. Our local Girl Scout Council has information which links back to the national website.

There is even a Journeys map to help you with the program.

The Girl Scout Journeys Facebook Group is for all levels of leaders seeking help.

Have you found any other online resources I can add to this list?  If so, please share!

How is Your Girl Scout Journey Going?

Last week I attended my local Girl Scout Volunteer Meeting (it is no longer just for leaders, but who else would go?)  I always look forward to our first meeting and getting geared for my troop’s first gathering of the year.

One of the biggest items on our agenda was the new Journeys Program.  In previous posts and articles about the Girl Scouts Journeys Program, I have expressed my opinions about the changes.  Many of the leaders were a bit confused by it all, except for the new Daisy leaders who do not know anything different.

How is Your Girl Scout Journey Going?

Photo from Pixabay

What amazed me is that the new program books cannot be found-they are sold out everywhere.  The kicker is they may not be available for a few months.  Even the Service Unit leaders did not have a copy!

So what is a leader to do?

One Brownie leader at my table asked if we should just do crafts and “fun stuff”, and she was told to do that.  Sigh.  If you want change, then be prepared for it!

My girls will be doing a fun craft this week at our first Brownie meeting of the year like we always do, and then we will be doing Try It Patches that I have bought over the summer.  I will not just do crafts for the sake of doing something.  We will continue to earn Try Its and do the things Brownies used to do until this whole mess is sorted out.

How is the new program going with you?  Do you like it?   Why?  Why not?

 

Girl Scout Journeys Program…What Do You Think?

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I attended a Girl Scout training session recently about being a Brownie leader (after being one for a year…it was finally offered locally). Most of it was about the changes happening on the Brownie level with the Try Its and Journeys program.

I did not do the Journeys program with my troop, either as Daisy Girl Scouts or as Brownies. I am a teacher. The Journeys program for the girls seemed boring and quite frankly, developmentally inappropriate. I have spoken with some Daisy leaders and they told me the girls were not thrilled with it.

The trainer of the meeting told us that the reason they changed to the Journeys was because girls were just doing fun arts and crafts patches and not learning about leadership or the world around them. I do understand that point, but as a leader, we also do not want to bore the girls to tears and make them NOT want to be a Girl Scout. Meetings should not revolve around reading from a book.

Next year, as my Brownie troop begins it’s second year, I will think about doing a Journey. I will get a book this summer and see how it can be incorporated with what I do. The last thing I want to do is make them do work, since we meet right after school every other Friday. Our Girl Scout meetings are a gateway to the weekend!

What do you think about the Journeys program?