Girl Scouts: Their Works, Ways and Plays
Their Works, Ways and Plays
The Girl Scouts, a National organization, is open to any girl who expresses her desire to join and voluntarily accepts the Promise and the Laws. The object of the Girl Scouts is to bring to all girls the opportunity for group experience, outdoor life, and to learn through work, but more by play, to serve their community. Patterned after the Girl Guides of England, the sister organization of the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts has developed a method of self-government and a variety of activities that appear to be well suited to the desires of the girls as the 60,000 registered Scouts and the 5,000 new applicants each month testify.
The activities of the Girl Scouts may be grouped under five headings corresponding to five phases of women's life today:
I. Woman's most ancient way of service—the home-maker, the nurse, and the mother. The program provides incentives for practicing woman's world-old arts by requiring an elementary proficiency in cooking, housekeeping, first aid, and the rules of healthful living for any Girl Scout passing beyond the Tenderfoot stage. Of the forty odd subjects for which Proficiency Badges are given, more than one-fourth are in subjects directly related to the services of woman in the home, as mother, nurse or homekeeper. Into this work so often distasteful because solitary is brought the sense of comradeship. This is effected partly by having much of the actual training done in groups. Another element is the public recognition, and rewarding of skill in this, woman's most elementary service to the world, usually taken for granted and ignored.
The spirit of play infused into the simplest and most repetitious of household tasks banishes drudgery. "Give us, oh give us," says Carlyle, "a man who sings at his work. He will do more in the same time, he will do it better, he will persevere longer. Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness; altogether past comprehension its power of endurance."
II. Woman, the producer. Handicrafts of many sorts enter into the program of the Girl Scouts. In camping girls must know how to set up tents, build lean-tos, and construct fire-places. They must also know how to make knots of various sorts to use for bandages, tying parcels, hitching, and so forth. Among the productive occupations in which Proficiency Badges are awarded are bee-keeping, dairying and general farming, gardening, weaving and needlework.
III. Woman, the consumer. One of the features in modern economics which is only beginning to be recognized is the fact that women form the consuming public. There are very few purchases, even for men's own use, which women do not have a hand in selecting. Practically the entire burden of household buying in all departments falls on the woman. In France this has long been recognized and the women of the middle classes are the buying partners and bookkeepers in their husbands' business. In America the test of a good husband is that he brings home his pay envelope unopened, a tacit recognition that the mother controls spending. The Girl Scouts encourage thrifty habits and learning economy of buying in all of its activities. One of the ten Scout Laws is that "A Girl Scout is Thrifty."
IV. Woman, the citizen. The basic organization of the Girl Scouts into the self-governing unit of a Patrol is in itself an excellent means of political training. Patrols and Troops conduct their own meetings and the Scouts learn the elements of parliamentary law. Working together in groups they realize the necessity for democratic decisions. They also come to have community interests of an impersonal sort. This is perhaps the greatest single contribution of the Scouts toward the training of girls for citizenship. Little boys play together and not only play together, but with men and boys of all ages. The interest of baseball is not confined to any one age. The rules of the game are the same for all, and the smallest boy's judgment on the skill of the players may be as valid as that of the oldest fan. Girls have had in the past no such common interests. Their games have been either solitary or in very small groups in activities largely of a personal character. If women are to be effective in modern political society, they must have from very earliest youth gregarious interests and occupations.
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