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Not without my badges!

It is a sad time to be a Girl Scout. First cookie sales are down due to the recession, and now they’re taking away the badges!

The biggest change is last year’s debut of Journeys, a pilot curriculum that will mostly replace the system of earning badges on specific topics. Girls still will be able to earn badges if they want, but Journeys rarely mentions them, focusing instead on broader themes, including teamwork and healthy living.

What kind of farce is this? Healthy living lectures from the demon distributors of Samoas and Thin Mints and Tagalongs? Ha! They can talk as much as they want about teamwork, but I remember what Girl Scouts was really about – tacky glue, fights over who lit the match to start the campfire, and BADGES. Lots and lots of badges. So many badges that yo’ mamma better learn to sew.

A Brownie you can't eat

Here I am in 2nd grade in my Brownie Girl Scout jumper, with matching shoes, socks and striped shirt. I was the kind of Brownie you can’t eat. (If you’re not a cannibal.) As you can see, I was only beginning to earn my badges, but as a member of Central Maryland Troop 410, I was already plowing through my workbook, earning as many triangle shaped badges as I could. You had to complete activities to earn badges in different categories. The goal was to get three badges in the same color, like owning all the same color real estate in monopoly. There was nothing more awful and incomplete than having a row of only 1 or 2 triangle badges, your sash desperately yearning for completion of the color palette.

What? It still fits! I swear!

I have purged many items from my apartment in the past few years, but I would never throw out my Brownie sash. And it totally still fits (over my head).

Badges! Worth more than the dollar they paid for them.

See all my beautiful badges! They have puppets and Jazzercisers and Erlenmeyer flasks embroidered on them. They are so fancy and worth far more than the fraction of a dollar they cost on bulk order.

There are the special badges on the back which I got for going to Girl Scout camp and for sleeping over at the Harford Mall and for…riding a brontosaurus? I don’t know what I earned that dinosaur patch at the top for. However, I will never forget all my cookie patches.

Cookies! I sold 200 boxes (which I didn't eat myself, promise)

Yes, that 200+ means I sold 200 boxes of cookies, not that I ate 200 boxes of cookies. Though I would have been happy to oblige them on both counts if my wallet and ass were both fat enough. My mom I sold lots of boxes of cookies to the fraternity boys in town by hiding under the table as my mom did the sales pitch with my expert salesmanship!

I do not know what the Girl Scouts are thinking, de-emphasizing the badges. Without them, all you’ve got left is the tacky glue and the fights over who lights the matches. I cherish my badges and I would give up a dozen boxes of Samoas for the sweet feeling of completing a row of colors.

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Emily • March 4, 2009 at 9:24 am

I agree completely. I was all about the badges. It forced me to try activities I wouldn’t have otherwise wanted to do, because I wanted the badge.


Mara @ What's For Dinner? • March 4, 2009 at 9:48 am

I was a brownie for all of ONE year… I earned 6 badges, and was in love with my beanie. Then I almost drowned in the troop mom’s pool, and I was done after that… but my mom was the cookie mom that one year, and I’ll never forget the walls of cookies in our living room!


angela • March 4, 2009 at 10:03 am

We must be the same age! Even though I was in Arizona, we have a LOT of the same badges! yay! Girl Scouts!


dg • March 4, 2009 at 10:24 am

So cute :) And hell yes it was all about the badges!

i always felt miffed reading American books where they mentioned these Girl Scout cookies as we didn’t have that in Australia. Our Brownie fundraising involved doing chores for small amounts of cash… cleaning, gardening, general slaving your arse off for like 20 cents!


Brandi • March 4, 2009 at 10:29 am

It’s so sad what has happened to them. I was a GS all the way through senior level (though I slacked and never got my Gold Award). I tried to find a Daisy troop for my daughter this year and there weren’t enough interested people to get one going at her school. So, so sad. I did manage to get some cookies this year anyway. Fat ass be damned, I need my thin mints.


Jaime • March 4, 2009 at 10:32 am

Oh my god, I wonder if my mom still has my Brownie sash? I’m pretty sure I had that same dinosaur patch, and I can’t remember what it was for, either.

My mom was an assistant leader for a few years and was in charge of cookie distribution, so our den would be filled with cookie boxes for a few weeks each year.

I do wonder if these sorts of organizations are going by the wayside… kids are so over-scheduled nowadays, who has time? It’s sad… I really loved Scouts!


Mymsie • March 4, 2009 at 10:35 am

Love the Cabin-Camp Out badge but is that a cat or a rat? Either seems like an odd cabin-dwelling critter. ;)


Gigi • March 4, 2009 at 10:44 am

Weren’t you the little overachiever?! Love that you saved all your Brownie stuff. And I agree – it really was all about the badges.


Helen • March 4, 2009 at 10:51 am

I can tell you exactly what this is: part of the otherwise world-wide conspiracy to not let one single child feel “left out.” Boo Hoo. (You know we all have to be equal and get equal recognition, right?) I am so sick of this kind of crap. God forbid one little girl scout has more badges than the other and damages the second child’s self esteem. Honestly, I think all girl scouts past and present as well as all parents ought to start a write in campaign to stop this nonsense!


TimBuck2 • March 4, 2009 at 10:57 am


I know nothing about girl scout badges, but

I never liked this idea on removing competition to make the lazy ones feel better. I see it more and more in various places in our society.

That doesn’t make the kids stronger, it makes them weaker.

It’s the rewards and bragging rights that get me fired up!

Going after something got me off my caboose and dancing on a stage in front of hundreds to win a Disney vacation. It was totally cool and totally worth it.




cc • March 4, 2009 at 11:10 am

@TimBuck2 – is lazy really the opposite of competitive?

i loathed competition and thus i loathed the race to get badges doing activities i had no interest in and begged to be allowed give up girl scouts. i was pretty active all the same.


TimBuck2 • March 4, 2009 at 11:34 am

@cc – Yes, I see your point. Lazy is not opposite of competitive. This is my extrovert coming out.

Still, I was made to do things I didn’t want to do and was totally confused about. In retrospect, it made me a better kid.


Julie • March 4, 2009 at 11:40 am

@Helen –

I never would have thought that. We’ve been involved in GS for years. The whole troop usually works on the badges together and they don’t really care what other troops do.


Julie • March 4, 2009 at 11:41 am

This is our first year NOT doing GS since my daughter was in K. She is a freshman this year. My younger daughter just rejoined last week in a new troop. I missed what is going on with the Journey’s thing. I do know that we had much more fun doing crafts and hanging out that working on badges lol.


Jenni • March 4, 2009 at 11:54 am

I was a GS for years and years, and volunteered as a leader for 5 years during/after college (even though I don’t have kids). I LOVED it and loved helping the girls earn badges. It wasn’t about the competition of earning badges, it was about learning something new and doing fun activities.

And I am betting you got the dinosaur patch, because your troop was “dino-myte” or something lame like that, we used to buy our troop one patch like that a year, because the girls loved getting random patches with their badges, and since they always sold the most cookies in the service unit they deserved the $1 patch.

End rant!

oh and I will be buying a case of assorted cookies from a cookie booth. good thing they all freeze well!


Steph • March 4, 2009 at 11:56 am

I’m not sure what’s more depressing – the Girl Scouts giving into the ‘non-competition’ crap, or the fact that several of your badges were earned the year I graduated from high school – makes me feel a bit old.

‘Scuse me while I go yell at kids for being in my yard. :P


AquaMarine • March 4, 2009 at 12:27 pm

OK, I have to say it wasn’t about the badges for me. It was all about the uniform! I was only a brownie for a year but I really looked forward to wearing that brown dress with it’s little orange tie and the skinny brown belt that had (and here’s the best part (for an 8 year old, at least)) a little change purse with a snap that attached to the belt. Then brown knee socks and brown shoes just finished it off. Wearing that really made my week!

Confession: I went to a catholic school so not having to wear the usual plaid uniform was a real big deal for me.


adrienne • March 4, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Awesome photo: now I need to go find mine. I wonder if I still have my sash.

Blog conferences should seriously issue badges (iron-on though).


Meg • March 4, 2009 at 12:31 pm

No! They can’t get rid of badges! I still have my sash too! The badges were so motivating, silly as they were! I honestly don’t think I would have been as motivated to do half of the things I did if it hadn’t resulted in a patch.

Hopefully they’ll reconcider!


Sweetie Pie • March 4, 2009 at 1:17 pm

I was obsessed with my badges!! That’s especially true of me while I was a junior. This is just wrong!

You look so cute in your little uniform!!


Jen • March 4, 2009 at 1:26 pm

That’s ridiculous. I loved the badges. Our troop always them together — and we often planned outings so that it would earn a badge.

Without the badges to spur ideas outings and projects, I’m not sure Girl Scouts would have been any fun.


Kelly • March 4, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Hey, I had no idea that you lived in Maryland when you were a kid. I thought you’d always been in the mid-west. I live just outside of Baltimore. :D


PastaQueen • March 4, 2009 at 1:53 pm

@AquaMarine – Me too! I got so sick of our school plaid.


Kimberly • March 4, 2009 at 2:16 pm

This past weekend at the grocery store I couldn’t even look the girl scouts camped out at the entrance in the eye.

Those Thin Mints are the debil. I can’t moderate myself at all. It would go like this a) buy box b) take box home c) open box d) take out 2 cookies e) eat cookies f) open box, grab tube of cookies and devour in one sitting. Then I would repeat the process all over again the next day when I would buy another box. I’d rather skip the regain.


Tina • March 4, 2009 at 2:38 pm

My mom just gave me my Girl Scout sash recently. I think I’m going to put it in a shadowbox frame and hang it in my closet. Yours fits better than mine! I couldn’t even get it over one boob.


Liz • March 4, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I was in Girl Scouts all the way to the top…I have a silver award somewhere…I also had my second grade school pic taken in my Brownie uniform. It is sad, I live in Albany, NY and I dont know where to even buy GS cookies, I LOVED Samoas!


Sandy • March 4, 2009 at 2:46 pm

@Helen –

I absolutely believe that is what this is about. Not all troops work on them together – that is up to the leader and what I tried to do when I was leading but you actually get pushback from some parents. I even had to resort to offering to sew the badges on their daughters’ sashes so that the kids could wear them. Too many parents these days use GS as a free after-school care one day a week rather than understanding what it is supposed to be doing for the girls to have some measurable achievement in non-traditional things.


Liz • March 4, 2009 at 2:47 pm

…meaning I dont know any GS to buy the cookies from. My boyfriend talks of the boxes he gets through parents at work but they live 2 or 3 towns over.


PastaQueen • March 4, 2009 at 2:51 pm

@Tina – Well, I have no boobs, so I’ve got an advantage on you.


Lucrecia • March 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Seriously? Ok, this about ruins my day. Yes, I realize how pathetic that sounds! I was a girl scout all the way through, earning my Gold Award “badge”. I was looking forward to my daughter starting next year. Now, not so much!


gazellegirl • March 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm

First Saturns – now THIS !?! I am so disappointed today! Badges taught me how to be independent, believe it or not, because it was up to me to choose how to meet the requirements and to figure out how to ask for help if I needed it. I even bought a used badge book from the years I was in Junior because I lost my original one. Just so I can do the projects later if I ever get bored. I, too, also see the irony in peddling both a healthy lifestyle and cookies (that are like 3 points – for 1 stinkin’ little cookie!)

Make it stop!!!


Sheila • March 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm

I was a GS myself and oversaw my daughter’s troop for five years, ending a decade ago. Even then, the literature urged us to go beyond endless meetings of cranking out badges. I had a checklist of things that help make up a well-rounded troop year; participation in fund-raising (natch), a service project involving senior citizens, a community event (our town’s Christmas parade), multiple outdoor activities, activities involving at least one other troop, activities involving an even larger GS group, a service project involving helping an adult service club (cleaning up after the Garden Club’s fundraiser plant sale for public projects), and so on. Not every girl has to do every thing, but the troop as a whole should do all those things. At our little badge presentation ceremonies, I’d give each girl some sort of cute container holding all the badges and patches she’d earned, including participation badges. Every girl got one container. That way, it wasn’t a painfully competitive recitation of each girl’s badges. That being said, we did spend about half our time together on badge work, usually leaving some of the work for the girl to do independently, and the girls who earned the most badges did get more out of the GS experience.. But the badges were just part of an overall balanced program, not the almost sole focus of it, as seems to be more typical of Boy Scouts, in which I was also involved. I’ve often thought that an interesting study or book could be written comparing and contrasting those two organizations as a reflection of society’s socialization of the sexes. (That’s explains why this response is SO long-winded!)


Amy • March 4, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Oh, I’m sure that there are plenty of GS moms toasting this decision! I hated sticking the badges on my daughter’s vest (the cool girls these days wear vests, not sashes). Sometimes I sewed them, sometimes I hot glued them, sometimes I put them on a shelf and hoped she never asked about them.


Quix • March 4, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Yeah, chalk me up as another one who’s frustrated with the “everyone gets the same trophy because we are ALL winners” mentality. There are ways to have friendly competition that is self esteem boosting without eliminating it entirely – and if there isn’t…too bad. It’s important for people to not leave school without realizing that if you want the trophy, you have to work for it, and sometimes you might not get it anyway.

Whew – ok, rant off. ;)


Camevil • March 4, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Without the badges, I would have dropped Girl Scouts early on. I was all about the stinkin’ badges. I looked forward to the wednesday troop meetings because that meant I got to wear my uniform and my overly-adorned sash ‘o badges. I always held my head higher on Wednesdays, like a decorated soldier.

Damn. I wish I had saved my badges now.


Michelle • March 4, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Yikes, the dates on some of your patches really make me feel old. I graduated from High School in 1987, but I digress. . . . My daughter was a brownie in first and second grade and she has some of the exact same patches (20 years later). She’s a Junior this year (the green uniform) and I had no clue they were getting rid of the patches, I’m not sure how I feel about that.


anji • March 4, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Hmmmmm… I still have my sash, I know that for sure. I think I still have the uniform also! My mom has them but I’ll get picking them up next time I’m that way. I wonder if Canada is giving into the badgeless society? I sure hope not….


Sam • March 4, 2009 at 9:49 pm

I am so jealous of your (and everyone else’s who has posted) girl scout experience! Mine was super lame- I don’t ever remember doing anything fun, we didn’t do camp outs or ANYTHING! I don’t even know what the point of us being a troop was, I just remember having meetings in the elementary school music room sitting on carpet squares wondering what the heck the point was.

All I can remember that was entertaining was the time we were saying the girl scout pledge and the girl holding the flag peed her pants.

She didn’t earn a badge for it.


Mom • March 4, 2009 at 9:53 pm

@PastaQueen – Speaking of getting sick. . . Jennette so loved Brownies that one time she even went to school after vomiting during the night so that she would not miss their weekly meeting. I did not find the mess until around noon when I went into her room to put something away. Since the school had not called during the morning asking me to come pick up a sick daughter, I figured she had recovered. She is one strong determined lady!!! And she definitely loved Brownies!!!


Liz • March 4, 2009 at 11:20 pm

What the heck?!?! How can they even contemplate doing away with the badges??! I also still have my sash, in a very dusty, musty box, but I would never dream of getting rid of it. It is my proof that I accomplished something between the ages of 6-10. Oh, what a sad day when Brownies and Girl Scouts have no badges. What is next, telling the Boy Scouts no camping?


Linda • March 5, 2009 at 4:47 am

@Liz – I know my son’s boy scout troop wasn’t permitted to roast marshmallows over a campfire, hence no s’mores – I was told this was a result of a litigious parent whose child was injured after being burned by a hot marshmallow. I can empathize, but is this what we’ve come to??


cindy • March 5, 2009 at 5:58 am

I was a Brownie drop-out ~ I just didn’t take to the GS culture. My sister, on the other hand, went on through high school and her troop earned a trip to the Virgin Islands. I preferred wandering in the woods and climbing trees on my own. Who needs a badge when you can have permanent scars as reminders of your adventures?!


Laura N • March 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Well the GS’s just suck by taking away the badges. What is this world coming to? I may have to not eat the last sleeve of my thin mints in protest. (or not)

You, however, are too stinking cute. Love the badges & how neatly they are organized.

And your mom’s comment about you going to school for Brownies even though you threw up the night before? So funny.


Katie • March 5, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I love the badge with the director panda (with hairbow, so you can tell it’s a GIRL panda). That’s a super cute Brownie picture, too – love the fidgety fingers and sun-squinting. :)


Mama Maven • March 5, 2009 at 2:29 pm

I have a daughter in Brownies in GSCM and they are still all about earning their badges. They call the triangle ones “try-its” now. I am all about figuring out when my mother can visit so she can sow them on because they are supposed to be iron-on but that is not the same as stay-on.


Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach • March 5, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I really admire anyone who has great memories about girl scouts. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, my town’s girl scouts was simply a popularity clique – and being the nerd I was back then, I fit in as well as a moose figure-skates.

Maybe not that good, in hindsight. :)



Cynthia • March 5, 2009 at 4:06 pm

I can’t believe they would take away the badges! OK, I was only a Brownie for one year and honestly, I don’t remember Brownie badges. But I had the green Girl Scout sash and LOTS of badges! It was definitely about earning badges and it definitely got you trying new things, even if you weren’t good at them, LOL!

I felt really bad lately, I said no to a Girl Scout selling cookies at Wal-Mart. Of course, I need GS cookies in my life about like I need a brain tumor, but still. I sold cookies when I was a GS.

Yep, I sold 200+ boxes… and one year, some 800+ boxes to earn a full free week at Casa Mare sailing camp! It was a blast! It’s still there, I just looked it up! Only they didn’t have SCUBA or skin diving when I went. Just the sailing, which was super!


FutureCatLady • March 5, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Brownies (and later Juniors) was the only time I actually got along with the mean girls at my Catholic school (shout out to the plaid!!!). Badges were physical proof that we all survived the same embarrassing activities (aerobics in public, anyone?), created the same pointless crafts (bug-eyed Popsicle sticks) and catwalked in our leader’s living room (to Vanilla Ice, no less). Sigh. First they got rid of the uniforms, then the cookies started to, well, suck (except for Thin Mints), now they’re getting rid of badges. Makes me glad to be all grown up.


kristisummer • March 5, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Never was a Brownie or Girl Scout. My mom could never convince. I feel I missed out. Love the cookies, every kind. I always try to be very prepared but can’t use the excuse that I was a girl scout, so instead that makes me anal lol.


Andy Lee • March 5, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Interesting topic for me, as I am a SU manager in NY, and I am SO FED UP with GSUSA and our local council I am quitting this position. I LOVE scouting. I loved camp, campfires, marshmallows, dirty clothes, the glue, the badges, the cookies (well, who doesn’t love the cookies lol!), I even love the dances and girlie girl stuff – and I ain’t no girlie girl! But losing the age-groups (no more Brownies, either!), as well as the badges? In the name of ??? Progress? Cost effectiveness? Honestly, they are just in this sucky disconnected place and need to SERIOUSLY rethink what they are doing. vent over.


Carey • March 5, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Great post! I love it, it’s way too true. I bet they’ll reintroduce them after trying it out.


Michelle Smiles • March 6, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I never got the cookie patch because my mom refused to take the order form to work or to help me…I had to sell them myself in the small area of the neighborhood I was allowed to wander in alone. I was always a little bitter about the girls whose parents took them to work and would sell hundreds of boxes.

Honestly, the patches weren’t a big deal in my troop. But I do remember at the big Jamboree thingy it was a huge deal to have lots of patches.


Amy • March 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm

I won a contest to design a patch and lots of other Brownies wore it as a result! I still have my sash too. Then after college I was a GS camp counselor for a summer. That was pretty cool but I don’t miss mosquito netting.


Jamillah • March 6, 2009 at 9:27 pm

I love being a Girl Scout. I have a bunch of badges too and for years couldn’t find them. Who had them?? My mother! I stole them back. I worked hard for all of those bad boys. Volunteering, medical, day camp, photography. My parents can have the number bars of home many cookies were sold. It was fun to accomplish a goal to achieve a badge. Great post


Angie • March 7, 2009 at 11:17 am

Fabulous stuff here, love the pic of you in the sash that still fits!


RG • March 8, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Awww. I have a friend who’s struggled with health problems in her 20’s, and one of her most memorable experiences from before those took over was the few years she was a Scout Leader, in the 1987-1993 range but not sure exactly when, in Towson, MD. I’d love to find some GS who was in her troup and who remembers it fondly. It’s unlikely to be you, I know. She said that the Leaders who took over after her kind of lost touch with her very quickly, but I bet there are girls whose lived she touched…


Juice • March 10, 2009 at 10:29 am

I spent many hours in the Harford Mall as a kid! Hoschilds, the Little Professor store, some other department store that started with an H (Hechts?). Loved shopping there until Tollgate opened with the Hello Kitty store and Finklesteins (yeah, I’m older than you too)… Ah, memories. Don’t even get me started on the rainbow store at White Marsh!


Jen • March 12, 2009 at 11:46 am

I also have my Brownie and Girl Guide sash (UK equivalent to Girl Scouts ;-) ) and they also both still fit ;-) I’m tempted to re-sew the badges on a denim jacket or something because they are THAT COOL!


Leigh Ann • March 18, 2009 at 7:56 pm

I have a first-grade Brownie. Next year all first graders will be Daisies and Brownies will only be two years. They aren’t doing away with the badges at any level. The Journeys are just extra. My daughter has earned nine Try-Its this year with about three or four more planned for the rest of the year. We might do a Journey next year. A lot of leaders, including me, aren’t too thrilled with them. They did do away with the five worlds of interest so all the Try-Its have brown borders now. When I was Brownie age (I never actually got to be one) the Try-It hadn’t been invented yet. You earned one Brownie B per year, which you moved to your Junior sash when you flew up. Speaking of flying up. Did you have your wings on your Brownie uniform? You’re supposed to get them when you fly up from Brownies to Juniors. They aren’t earned, either, everyone gets one at the end of the third grade just for tradition.


Jane • May 28, 2009 at 12:15 am

@Leigh Ann –

Leigh Ann is correct. Badges aren’t going away at any level of Girl Scouts. Journeys are being introduced to the various levels of Girl Scouts, *in addition* to the Brownie Try-Its, Junior Badges, and Interest Patch Projects. (The latter are the “badges” for Cadettes (grades 7 & 8), Seniors (grades 9 & 10), and Ambassadors (grades 11 & 12).

Our troop did the Brownie Journey, called the Quest. We liked the Try-Its better.

Our girls are already planning to keep their vests.


janet • November 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm

the badges are NOT going away. i don’t know where this mis-information came from. the Journeys program was recently developed to give the girls a more well rounded Girl Scouting experience. i do see a lot of comments on “getting the badge”, “gotta get them badges or else i’ll be a slacker!!!” yeah, learning a new skill is nice, & getting a badge to show off said new skill is nice, too. but then what? what do you do w/ said skill? there are a lot of girls who have to badge collecting mentality, but then interest stops after they get the badge. the Journeys program was made to give the girls a nudge into using the new skill to make the world a better place.


Cat • May 19, 2011 at 9:54 pm

I am currently a leader of 2 troops (Daisy and Juniors) and soon to be Service Unit Director. I can tell you the direction of G.S. is not good. The journeys are very touchy, feely activities about feeling good about yourself and others. The badges are the best. Many will be gone, some will stay. GS is losing members because of their ridiculous political agenda they spew to girls. Yes, it is true. Those of you with fond memories remember trying something new. That is what it is all about! I will continue to DO it My Way, as long as I have room to do it, otherwise this mom and her 2 troops are gone. :( Love the cookies!


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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