You're ready to make the world a better place. Show everyone how you’ll do it by earning the Girl Scout Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards. Each award will challenge you and helps you take action in a big way.
Why must girls complete Journeys before earning Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards?
Earning one of Girl Scouts’ highest awards challenges girls to be their best. By first completing a “regular” Journey, girls learn what it takes to successfully complete a Take Action project—so they’re better prepared to develop, plan, and implement the more involved Take Action project for their Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award.
What do you mean when you say a girl’s Journey is "completed"?
We say a Journey is “completed” when a girl has earned the Journey awards, which include creating and carrying out a Take Action project.
Are the guidelines for the highest awards the same as those for Journeys?
As you might expect, there are some differences. Take Action projects for a Journey have predetermined themes. To earn a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award, girls are required to come up with their own Take Action project theme.
How many hours should it take to earn each of the highest awards?
No two projects are alike, so the time to plan, share, and complete a project will vary depending on the scope of the project, team, and community support. The quality of the project should be emphasized over the quantity of hours necessary to complete it. However, after fulfilling the required Journey, the suggested minimum number of hours is:
Can girls, or even an entire troop, work together on an award?
That depends on the award level. Girls are required to work as a team to earn the Bronze Award. Girls working toward their Silver Award may work individually or in small groups (no more than 3 girls to a group unless spoken with Council). Because the Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouts, girls must earn the award as individuals. Accordingly, different leadership skills are developed at each award level.
Can girls get a head-start and begin working on their award projects right after they bridge (transition) to the next level?
Absolutely. Once a girl bridges to the next level, she can begin working on her award; this includes the summer months.
Is it possible to choose Girl Scouting itself as the focus of a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award?
The Girl Scout movement can be the focus of a Take Action project for the Bronze Award, but not for the Silver and Gold Awards. Take Action projects for the Silver and Gold Awards must into the community to "make the world a better place.
"Younger girls earning their Bronze Award are allowed to develop their planning and leadership skills within the comfort of a smaller group. Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors are ready to spread their wings, work more independently, and develop projects with—and for—a larger community.
What happens when a girl moves to a new city, state, or country while she’s in the middle of her award project? Can she still earn her award?
Yes, but she may need to seek special permission. We advise a girl in this situation to work with her new council and/or Overseas Committee to complete the project. And we encourage councils and Overseas Committees to be flexible and serve girls’ best interests.
Are adult guides just for council staff and volunteers? Or can parents use them too?
Even though the guides are designed for volunteers working directly with girls achieving their awards, any adult is welcome to use them.
What about girls with disabilities? Is there a different set of requirements for them?
No. Because Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award work is to be done to the best of a girl’s ability, there really is no need for special requirements for girls with disabilities. We encourage advisors to be flexible and to work with the girl individually as she earns her award.
How do you define “sustainable” when it comes to the highest awards?
Simply put, a sustainable project lives on in the community after a girl’s involvement ends. How do girls achieve that? They might focus on education and raising awareness. Or they might develop workshops and hands-on learning sessions that inspire others to keep the project going. Working with local government, community groups, nonprofit agencies, civic associations, and/or religious organizations can also help ensure the project lasts beyond the girl’s involvement.
Does “sustainability” mean something different for different grade levels?
It’s more the degree of sustainability that differs from level to level. We give girls tools to help them explore issues they may want to address so that they can develop sustainable projects, as well as measure impact on their community, target audience, and themselves.
Like many aspects of earning the highest awards, it becomes more challenging as girls progress to the higher levels. Girl Scout Juniors working on their Bronze Awards might think about how their projects could become ongoing. But Cadettes working on their awards actually plan for sustainability. Seniors and Ambassadors are required to make sustainability an essential component of their projects in order to meet Gold Award standards of excellence.
Do you have any advice on how to generate higher-quality projects?
A good first step is to make sure girls and their advisors understand the difference between a one-time community service project and a highest award Take Action project that serves an entire community for an extended period of time. The troop/group volunteer, council staff member, or Gold Award committee (for Gold Award only) should also work closely with girls to ensure that every project meets the quality requirements of the award.
How can we accurately measure the impact of a highest award project?
Check the award guidelines. We provide tools to help girls identify project goals for their community, target audience, and themselves using a “success indicator” matrix.
Can a girl complete her project after turning 18 and graduating? What about after she starts college?
A girl has until she turns 18 or until the end of the Girl Scout membership year (September 30) when she is a senior in high school to complete her project.
What if a girl graduates and is 18, but doesn’t have her project completed?
In this case the girl would have until September 30 of the year she graduates.
Gold, Silver, and Bronze Award Girl Scouts are the youth leaders their communities need to create solutions to the new and ever changing challenges that arise from this global pandemic—whether it’s helping ensure kids are still getting the nourishment and enrichment they need out of school, responding to the possible ramifications of isolation during social distancing, or something else entirely!
Gold, Silver, and Bronze Award Girl Scouts have the tools to partner with community organizations to identify challenges, research the root cause(s) and take action to address them. Let’s encourage them to harness their creativity and innovation to brainstorm digital solutions to continue to meet community needs as we navigate this period of uncertainty and rapid change.
That said, let’s be flexible and accommodating so girls have the time and space they need to adjust to the changes and, when they’re ready, safely harness their enthusiasm so they can facilitate meaningful solutions for their communities!
Read on for some guidelines:
Support girls to adjust their highest award projects. The safety and health of our Girl Scouts is our top priority. We urge Girl Scout families to take the time they need to acclimate without the added stress of impending deadlines. Then, when girls are ready, let’s encourage them to flex their problem-solving muscles and adjust how they plan and implement their projects, rather than put their projects on hold. This will show girls that we’re confident in their ability to be the change our community needs through this crisis.
Facilitate reflection that positions girls as the leaders and change makers we know they are. Guide them through the “What? So What? Now What?” framework by asking: What? (What is happening/changing?), So What? (So, what does that matter?) and Now What? (Now what do we do better/differently in these new circumstances?) It may also be pertinent to add: “Who is this impacting and how?”. Through this framework girls will analyze the situation and harness their leadership to develop new solutions that creatively meet their community’s needs.
Obstacles provide productive problem-solving; barriers don’t and should be addressed. Problem solving obstacles is a critical part of the Bronze, Silver and Gold Award process. However, there is a difference between an obstacle and a barrier:
Obstacles can be overcome—they may include a girl losing in-person access to a site and/or their target audience. Girls may no longer be able to enter elderly centers to give classes, meet with their clubs in-person during lunchtime, or provide in-person afterschool enrichment. But: all those people are still seeking engagement!
Use the “What? So What? Now What?” reflection framework to help girls brainstorm other ways of meeting their community needs. Can they harness digital solutions — like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live, Skype, phone calls or another format — to engage their target audience and facilitate their change? Or, can they schedule online “train the trainer” sessions that equip volunteers to host sessions with small groups rather than plan/implement large events? Talk about leadership!
Barriers are showstoppers—what if a girl lacks access to computers or internet? What if their community partner lacks the interest/resources to continue working with them right now and puts them on hold? What about funding or resource shortages?
Handle these situations on a case by case basis. Depending on how far along a Girl Scout was in her process—and how close she is to a council or national deadline— you might determine they have facilitated appropriate change worthy of a highest award and direct them to plan out their sustainability and submit their final report. If they are closer to the beginning of their project or have ample time, you might coach them hold tight and adapt their project.
Community partners may need time to adjust. Give it to them! Like all of us, community partners are also in a significant period of adjustment. They may lack the capacity or interest to continue supporting girls’ projects right now. And, project advisors may be too overwhelmed to give proper attention, guidance and support. Coach girls to be patient and mindful that “right now” might not be the right timing and waiting a month or two may give community partners, project advisors and other teammates time to adjust to their new normal and become receptive again. This is one reason we put the national extension in place.
When community partners are available, girls can lead with forward thinking. Encourage girls to flex their leadership muscles by proactively asking: What’s your current situation? What do you need now/today that has shifted from the original plan? And, how can my work/plan support your new goals?
Help girls feel confident in making impact through virtual solutions. It might take a bit of coaching to help girls grasp how to transform their hands-on, interactive, resource-driven project into a new structure that accommodates today’s challenges. Be patient and understanding as you help them identify useful knowledge and resources. Digital solutions can strengthen already strong projects!
Just like in pre-pandemic times, digital solutions must address the root cause of a community issue with sustainable and measurable impact. Girls should be able to say “here’s the change I wanted to make, and here’s how I know I made it”—and they should be able to provide proof that their solution made that meaningful change. Be sure girls are following the safety activity checkpoints for virtual events, just like they would for in-person settings.
Uplift particularly innovative Bronze, Silver and Gold Award Girl Scouts by sharing their projects with email@example.com. We’ll be sure to share them with our Movement to inspire more girls!
Should my Gold Award committee meet virtually? Follow the guidelines shared from the CDC for your community or state government. We encourage virtual meetings! GSUSA is currently exploring online platforms, like Zoom, that will promote meaningful virtual engagement for girls and volunteers…stay tuned! Regardless, always be sure there is a call-in option for those with limited internet access!
What about council Highest Award Celebrations? Rather than cancelling, try to postpone your celebrations! These are life-changing, landmark moments for girls, and prioritizing the recognition of these achievements will be important to girls, their volunteers and families for years to come.
How can my committee safely meet with girls in an online space? Please maintain the Safety Activity Checkpoints for all meetings whether in-person or virtual. There should always be two unrelated, background check adult members meeting with Girl Scouts. To make this more comfortable for girls, you may opt for small group meetings.
What if I have volunteers who are not digitally literate? It’s not only important to meet girls where they are at, but the volunteers who support them. Ensure you’re providing not only call-in options but resources in a way that are easily accessible for all skill levels. Then, if you’re able, you might consider engaging Silver or Gold Award Girl Scouts who are promoting digital literacy in the wider community. They are primed with the skills and experience to teach your volunteer the skills they need to move into this digital space. And, if there isn’t a Girl Scout able to provide this coaching, perhaps you or a member of your team can help create a training or guide they can use!
Gold, Silver and Bronze Award Girl Scouts are the leaders their communities need to create solutions to the new and ever-changing obstacles that arise from this global pandemic. Thank you for investing time, energy and enthusiasm in encouraging them—and the volunteers who support them—to harness their creativity and rise to the challenge!
Girls of all grade levels can now earn the My Promise, My Faith pin, which complements existing religious recognitions and allows girls to further strengthen the connection between their faith and Girl Scouts. Once each year, a girl can earn the My Promise, My Faith pin by carefully examining the Girl Scout Law and tying it directly to tenets of her faith. Requirements for this pin are included in The Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting for all levels.