The Girl Scouts Are in Trouble


Lapsed Girl Scouts across the country, put down your glass of Ramona Singer Pinot Grigio and go find your sash and those five badges you earned before you got bored/ran out of the easy ones, because they might be worth a fuck-ton someday.

The beloved organization has been plagued with problems lately, not least a lack of interested girls — the rate of youth membership has declined 20% in the last 10 years, the last three or so on which we can undoubtedly blame Instant Netflix. And a lack of adult volunteers, for which you can blame the Ramona Singer Pinot Grigio you are currently drinking.

Specifically, the trouble started around 2003, when GSA began widening their array of programs to appeal to a more diverse group of girls. The push was due largely to Anna Maria Chavez, a former Girl Scout and the first Hispanic CEO, who’s responsible for a 55% increase in Hispanic Girl Scouts since 2000, even as many of the other figures are bleak. There was also a de-emphasis on outdoor activities and the inclusion of more cerebral, modern badges.

With this choice there became two prongs of adult supporters: those who believed that reforming the iconic brand for modern times was necessary, versus the traditionalists. Because grown-ups are sad and angry and tend to make anything meant as a fun activity for their child into an all-out fun-sucking Shakespearean battle. Fun!

Reworking the GSA thesis proved to be especially difficult — still is, in fact, by the simultaneous $347 million deficit in the organization’s pension plan. That’s a lot of Snickerdoodles. In the Washington Post, Chavez likens it to attempting to rebuild an airplane while it’s mid-air.

On the traditionalist side, an Arizona art historian and former Girl Scout who’s saddened by the lesser emphasis on outdoor activities and the sale of GSA-owned camp facilities. “To those of us who dearly love this organization, having to resort to protest mode is not what we want to do… We’ve been marginalized as this small, discontented group of dowdy older women trying to live in their memories.”

‘Amid an overhaul, Girl Scouts cope with fiscal woes, declining membership, grassroots dismay’ [WaPo]

Image via Getty.

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