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This glossary offers definitions of some of the frequently used terms in Girl Scouting.
A grade-level in Girl Scouting. Girls in grades 11-12 may refer to themselves as Girl Scout Ambassadors.
The yearly meeting a local Girl Scout council holds to elect its board of directors and conduct other business essential to Girl Scouting in its geographic area.
Basic leader's training (BLT)
The minimal basic training required of every leader and provided by local Girl Scout councils.
Basic outdoor skills
Skills learned by girls to prepare them for outdoor activities.
The Savannah, Georgia, birthplace and childhood home of Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the USA. The Birthplace is now a historic house museum and Girl Scout troop program facility. Learn more in Who We Are: The Birthplace.
Blue Book of Basic Documents
This publication contains all of the basic documents of Girl Scouts of the USA and is the foundation for the work of all Girl Scout councils.
Activities preparing troop/group members for the next Girl Scout grade-level or transition into the use of different grade-level resources. The bridging troop/group frequently does an activity from the Girl Scout resources used by girls used in the upcoming grade-level and completes a project or does an activity with them. After the troop/group has had a taste of what lies ahead for them in Girl Scouts, it holds a ceremony to mark the transition.
A ceremony that celebrates the transition from one grade-level in Girl Scouting to the next. Learn more in Bridging Ceremonies.
A circle formed by members of a Girl Scout Brownie troop/group for discussing troop business and planning activities.
A grade-level in Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Brownies are grades 2-3. Learn more in Girl Scout Brownies.
A safety practice that groups two or three girls together to keep watch over each other in an activity (for example, swimming, hiking). The system places girls of equal ability in the same grouping.
Girls in the 6th, 7th, or 8th grade-level may refer to themselves as Girl Scout Cadettes.
Holds a current card, certificate, or other documentation from an established, reputable group, verifying completion of training in a particular field (e.g., first–aid certified).
Chair, National Board of Directors
The principal elected officer of the national Girl Scout corporation. Chosen by the National Council for a three-year term, the Chair of the National Board of Directors presides at its meetings. She or he leads it in carrying out its governance responsibilities. The organization's constitution, found in the Blue Book of Basic Documents, gives restrictions on the Chair of the National Board of Director's tenure.
Chief Executive Officer
The Chief Executive Officer of the national Girl Scout corporation. Employed by and accountable to its board of directors, the Chief Executive Officer serves at the pleasure of the board. She or he leads the national staff in achieving the organization's vision and goals and works in partnership with the Chair of the National Board of Directors on governance functions of the board.
Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scout council
Employed by, and accountable to, its board of directors, the Chief Executive Officer of a local Girl Scout council corporation provides strategic direction and vision for development and achievement of the organization's purpose, as well as leadership in council day-to-day operations. The CEO is appointed to the corporate board of directors as a member without a vote.
Persons designated by the local Girl Scout council to help girls and leaders/advisors carry out their specific group camping plans at a given Girl Scout campsite (for example, site director).
A camp attended by troops/groups and their leaders/advisors, where a core staff offers program activities and the girls do activities with their troop leader/advisor.
Corporate board of directors
A board elected by members of the local Girl Scout council corporation and, between annual meetings, empowered to act for it within the framework of the council's bylaws. The board derives its authority from the national code for tax-exempt organizations, the corporate laws of the state in which the council is incorporated, and the council's articles of incorporation. Sitting on the board are a president, one or two vice presidents, a secretary, a treasurer, and from 16 to 25 members-at-large, who represent many aspects of the community as well as of Girl Scouting.
This award is for girls that mentor younger girls in a camp setting and build skills toward becoming a camp counselor. The steps to earning this award are outlined in The Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting.
Court of Awards
A ceremony where girls receive awards for their achievements.
Court of Honor
A troop/group decision-making and planning body that represents all the members and is made up of Girl Scout patrol leaders and troop/group officers and leaders.
The nickname of Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low.
A grade-level in Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Daisies are in kindergarten or grade 1.
Camping by the day or camping within a 12-hour program day. Girls from different groups sign up as individuals and go through the camping experience in temporary groups (units). The girls and unit staff plan and carry out activities. Day camping is council-sponsored (the camps require council approval to operate), and the council provides the staff, facilities and site.
Girl Scout activities that fall into one of five different categories—international, outdoor, science, people, or getaways. All destinations events provide an opportunity for individual members to broaden their perspectives and give Girl Scouting an enhanced visibility. Learn more about Girl Scout destinations and get information about upcoming events.
The state of being different or diverse. When used to describe people and population groups, diversity encompasses such factors as age, gender, race, ethnicity, ability, and religion, as well as education, professional background, and marital and parental status. Diversity indicates variety but is not synonymous with pluralism, which is a process or system of actions. The term should not be used to identify people of color. When referring to a specific group, use its racial, ethnic, or cultural name instead.
Documented training and experience
Written evidence of competence in a particular activity.
A mesh cloth bag with a drawstring, used to sterilize and hang-dry eating utensils when washing dishes.
Earned grade-level awards
Insignia from Girl Scout grade-level books. Earned by completing requirements or by demonstrating understanding of a concept. Included in this category are such awards as Girl Scout grade-level badges, the Girl Scout Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards.
Edith Macy Conference Center
A year-round, training facility providing professional development courses for Girl Scout adults and nonprofit and for-profit groups. Learn more at History: Edith Macy Conference Center.
Emergency contact person
The person to call in an emergency or for guidance and advice who is not at the activity or function. This person should have all pertinent information to assist in an emergency.
Basic plans, established in advance, stating what to do in an emergency. At the troop/group level, girls and adults formulate the plans orally as well as in writing and post them in a highly visible location.
Replacement course contents for a particular skill, including all elements required by a nationally recognized certifying body for it.
A group trip away from a day or resident base camp, which extends not longer than two days and one night and has a particular point of interest as its destination. The group and its leader plan and carry out the trip.
Former title for the Chief Executive Officer of a local Girl Scout council corporation.
A trip lasting more than three nights (may require a health examination as well as a health history, local Girl Scout council approval, and additional insurance coverage).
An adult who has taken local Girl Scout council-approved first-aid training from a nationally recognized organization.
A circle formed by Girl Scouts standing and clasping hands (before they reach for each other's hands, girls cross their right hand over their left). The circle represents the unbroken chain of friendship among Girl Scouts and Girl Guides all over the world.
A hand squeeze that travels around a friendship circle from one person to another after someone starts it.
Techniques used in a public appeal for contributions to fund the program and activities of the organization. Fund-raising, which often relates to short-term needs, is only part of a fund development plan. In Girl Scouting, Fund-raising is the responsibility of adults. See Troop/group money-earning.
The term used to identify girls and adults who are members of the Girl Guiding Movement in many countries. Agnes Baden-Powell, sister of the Boy Scouts' founder, Lord Baden-Powell, started the first Girl Guide troops in England. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), headquartered in London, England.
A member of Girl Scouts of the USA or another country's national Girl Scout organization. The U.S. organization grants membership to any girl who has:
Girl Scout adult
An adult member of Girl Scouts of the USA. The organization grants membership as a Girl Scout adult to any person who has:
Girl Scout Birthday
The official birthday of Girl Scouting, March 12, celebrated during Girl Scout Week, marks the first meeting of a Girl Scout troop held in 1912.
Girl Scout camping
An experience that provides a creative, educational opportunity for group living in the outdoors. Its purpose is to use the Girl Scout program, trained leadership, and the resources of natural surroundings to contribute to each camper's mental, physical, social, and spiritual growth. Learn more in Camping.
Girl Scout council
One of Girl Scouts of the USA's local affiliates, with authority over Girl Scouting in a specific section of the country. Or, the council jurisdiction and membership, including all girls and adults the council has registered and its corporate body, nominating committee, and board members, committees and task groups, as well as its employed staff. Also the title of the council corporation's membership body in meetings assembled. In this sense, the council includes delegates elected by geographic areas (or other units), its nominating committee, and its board members, committees, and task groups, as well as other members prescribed in its bylaws. Currently, there are over 100 Girl Scout Councils in the USA.
Girl Scout council delegate
Any registered Girl Scout 14 years of age or over, elected as a voting member of a local Girl Scout council corporation. A specific geographic area (or other unit established by the council board of directors) elects the delegate to represent it at the council's annual meeting. Delegates serve for a set term, which is defined in the council's bylaws. The board creates the formula for the number of delegates geographic areas can elect, which is usually based on the total number of girls an area registers through the council by a specific date.
Girl Scout Gold Award®
The highest award in Girl Scouting. This award recognizes the leadership, efforts, and impact girls have had on their communities. Learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award.
Girl Scout Gold Award Alliance
Composed of members of Girl Scouting who have achieved the highest award available to them—including the Golden Eagle of Merit, Golden Eaglet, First Class, the Curved Bar, or the Girl Scout Gold Award. Member activities include the following:
Girl Scout handshake
A formal way of greeting other Girl Scouts and Girl Guides. You shake hands with the left hand and give the Girl Scout sign with your right hand.
Girl Scout Law
Along with the Girl Scout Promise, the Girl Scout Law is the credo of Girl Scouting. A girl lives the 10 parts of the Girl Scout Law to fulfill the Girl Scout Promise. Learn more in Girl Scout Promise and Law.
Girl Scout Leader's Day
A day of appreciation for adult volunteers in Girl Scouting held on April 22 every year.
Girl Scout motto
Girl Scout national organization
A grouping that includes the National Council, National Board of Directors, national committees and task groups, and the national staff.
Girl Scout organization in the United States
A grouping that includes the national organization, chartered local Girl Scout councils, and licensed groups.
Girl Scout Promise
Along with the Girl Scout Law, is the credo of Girl Scouting; the pledge that binds members together as part of the Girl Scout Movement. A girl must make the Promise to become a Girl Scout member. Learn more: Girl Scout Promise and Law.
Girl Scout Sabbath
The Saturday in Girl Scout Week. A time for members to be recognized in their place of worship or to recognize the place of worship as a sponsor of a troop/group. Also an appropriate time for religious recognitions to be awarded to Girl Scouts exploring their own faith.
Girl Scout service mark
The Girl Scout service mark is composed of two parts: the symbol (the trefoil with three profiles) and the logotype (the words "Girl Scouts"). Girl Scouts of the USA owns the exclusive use of the Girl Scout service mark.
Girl Scout sign
Made by raising three fingers of the right hand. This sign stands for the three parts of the Promise. You give the sign when:
Girl Scout Silver Award®
The second highest award in Girl Scouting. Learn more about the Girl Scout Silver Award.
Girl Scout slogan
"Do a good turn daily."
Girl Scout Sunday
The Sunday in Girl Scout Week. A time for members to be recognized in their place of worship or to recognize the place of worship as a sponsor of a troop/group. Also an appropriate time for religious recognitions to be awarded to Girl Scouts exploring their own faith.
Girl Scout Trefoil
"Trefoil" means three leaves. Each leaf in the traditional or stylized Girl Scout trefoil stands for a part of the Girl Scout Promise. Within the traditional Girl Scout trefoil is the American eagle and shield, which are part of the Great Seal of the United States of America. The eagle is a symbol of strength and victory, and the shield on the eagle's breast signifies self-reliance. In his talons, he clutches on his right an olive branch, the symbol of peace, and on his left, a shaft of arrows, the symbol of might. The eagle faces right, which is the position of honor, looking toward the symbol of peace. The eagle and shield within the trefoil signify that Girl Scouts stand ready to serve their country. The stylized Girl Scout trefoil, introduced in 1978, symbolizes both the contemporary and continuing commitment to the three-part Promise in its trefoil shape. The three faces stand for the diversity of Girl Scouting and its focus on girls.
Girl Scout volunteer
An adult who contributes her or his time to a local Girl Scout council or Girl Scouts of the USA without the expectation of compensation (other than reasonable reimbursement or allowance for expenses) or any other thing of value in lieu of compensation. Volunteers typically give their time as troop/group leaders/advisors, coaches, mentors, board members, delegates, or assist girls in special projects in their area of expertise.
Girl Scout Week
The week containing March 12, the Girl Scout birthday, the anniversary of the first Girl Scout troop meeting in the United States in 1912. This observance is celebrated each year, starting with the Sunday on or preceding the 12th.
Girl Scouting in the School Day
A local Girl Scout council-sponsored partnership to include Girl Scouting in schools.
Girl Scouts of the United States of America
The official name of the national Girl Scout corporation, chartered by the U.S. Congress and incorporated in the District of Columbia. Also known as Girl Scouts of the USA, or GSUSA.
Girl Scouts' Own
Girl-planned inspirational ceremonies held in the troop/group or at camp. It is an opportunity for girls to express their feelings about Girl Scouting or a topic of their choosing, such as friendship, being courageous and strong, or nature. Girl Scouts' Own is not a religious service.
Leaders' training focused on working with girls at a specific Girl Scout grade-level.
The grade-levels in Girl Scouting are:
A medical checkup given by a licensed physician, physician's assistant, nurse practitioner, or registered nurse within the 24 months preceding a girl's participation in resident camping, in a trip of more than three nights, or in contact sports organized competitively. Health examination forms are available from local Girl Scout councils.
An updated record of a girl's past and present health status (for example, of allergies, chronic illnesses, and injuries), which her parent/guardian completes for Girl Scouts. The organization requires a health history for participation in physically demanding activities, such as water sports, horseback riding, or skiing. Health history forms are available from local Girl Scout councils.
The umbrella term for U.S. Girl Scout earned grade-level awards, religious and other awards, emblems, and participation patches and pins. Girls wear all insignia, except participation patches and pins, on the front of their Girl Scout uniform.
Juliette Gordon Low
The founder of the Girl Scout Movement in the United States. Also known as Daisy. Learn more in History: Juliette Gordon Low Biography.
Juliette Low World Friendship Fund
A Girl Scouts of the USA-operated fund that supports educational programs, service projects, training, and international travel to foster friendship among girls from the 144 countries of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Learn more in Global Girl Scoutingl: Juliette Low World Friendship Fund.
Awards earned by Girl Scout Juniors. Learn more in Insignia for Girl Scout Juniors.
A grade-level in Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Juniors are in grades 4-6.
A grid system, wheel, or table showing the job assigned to each girl or group of girls for any given project. Useful for meetings, camp-outs, and special events.
See Girl Scout leader.
A 14-17-year-old girl taking a Leader-in-Training course to learn group leadership skills. Also the name of the project the Leader-in-Training does to earn her title, which requires commitment to: eight to 10 hours of instruction, three to five hours of troop/group observation, and an internship under a specially trained mentor leader.
Awards earned by Girl Scout Dasies. Each petal is a different color and represents one of the 10 parts of the Girl Scout Law. To earn a petal, a girl shows her troop leader she understands the corresponding part of the Law. Learn more about Learning Petals.
A person with current certification in life-guarding skills and techniques from a recognized sponsoring agency and with additional training specific to the facility/body of water where she or he will guard. A lifeguard trains in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The type of certification needed depends on the kind of facility/body of water where the activity will take place.
Granted to any person 18 years of age or older or a high school graduate or the equivalent who:
See Edith Macy Conference Center.
Minimal-impact camping (low-impact camping)
Camping in which no trace of activities is left at the site. The physical landscape of the campsite is preserved, as well as the solitude and spirit of the wilderness. At an established site, minimal-impact camping means that the camper leaves the place cleaner than she found it and minimizes her impact on the Earth.
See Troop/group money-earning.
National Board of Directors
A body that manages the national Girl Scout corporation between sessions of the National Council. On the National Board are the Chair of the National Board of Directors, two Vice Chairs, the Secretary and Treasurer, and 35 members-at-large. Elected by the National Council, all of these positions have a three-year term. Girl Scouts of the USA's constitution, found in the Blue Book of Basic Documents, gives restrictions on tenure for them. The chair of the National Board Development Committee, if not already elected to the board, serves as an ex officio member of it.
The National Council:
National Council delegate
A person 14 years of age or over, elected by a local Girl Scout council as a voting member of the National Council (Girl Scouts of the USA corporation). Each local council and USA Girl Scouts Overseas can elect one delegate, as well as another one for every 1,800 girls under its jurisdiction. To count toward the 1,800, a girl must have been a member registered with Girl Scouts of the USA as of September 30 of the year preceding the National Council's regular session. The prescribed number of girls is adjusted up or down as necessary to keep the local council and overseas delegate total as close as possible to 2,000. National Council delegates serve for a three-year term.
The Girl Scout national organization's center of operations. Juliette Gordon Low moved the national headquarters to New York City in 1915. The address moved to various locations around NYC before finally settling in July 1992 to its current location at 420 Fifth Avenue. This nucleus for U.S. research and development in Girl Scouting takes up nine floors of a 39-story office condominium building that extends from 37th to 38th Streets. The building houses the organization's national staff.
A program center located in Cuernavaca, Mexico, owned by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Learn more in Global Girl Scouting: WAGGGS: World Centers.
A program center located in Adelboden, Switzerland, owned by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Learn more in Global Girl Scouting: WAGGGS: World Centers.
Using the Girl Scout program outdoors to allow girls to grow in relation to each of the three keys to leadership.
Participation patches and pins
Supplementary insignia received by girls for simply participating in an event or activity. Girls wear participation patches and pins on the back of their Girl Scout uniform.
Small group of girls that plans and carries out activities within the troop/larger group.
Elected or appointed leader of a troop/group patrol.
A form of troop government composed of patrols and a Court of Honor. Girl Scout Junior troops often use the patrol system.
A program center owned by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Located at Olave Centre, the association's main office in London, England. Learn more in Global Girl Scouting: WAGGGS: World Centers.
A system that includes individuals from groups differing in basic background experiences and cultures. Pluralism allows for the development of a common tradition while preserving the right of each group to maintain its cultural heritage. It implies mutual respect.
The principal elected officer of a local Girl Scout council corporation. Chosen by the corporation, the president presides at its business meetings. As chair of the corporate board of directors, she or he leads it in carrying out its ultimate authority for governance.
President's Volunteer Service Awards
An initiative, sponsored by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation and other groups, which recognizes hours of service in the community by groups and individuals at all grade-levels, including adults. Check with your local Girl Scout council or visit the President's Volunteer Service Award Web site for more information.
Product sales, council-sponsored
Councilwide program activities in which troops/groups may sell authorized, tangible products, such as Girl Scout Cookies® or magazines.
Program Aide (PA)
A girl who works directly with a troop/group under the supervision of an adult volunteer. The Program Aide is required to attend training sessions where she gains expertise in a particular field of interest, such as science, computers, or song leading.
An established level of quality or achievement for measuring and judging a local Girl Scout council's performance in delivering the Girl Scout program to girls.
Award earned by Girl Scout Dasies. A girl receives this award after showing her troop leader she understands the Girl Scout Promise. Learn more about the Girl Scout Daisy Promise Center and Learning Petals.
Raising the right hand over the head to signal for attention and quiet at any Girl Scout gathering. When the hand goes up, mouths go quiet, and everyone joins in giving the quiet sign.
A reaffirmation of a Girl Scout member's belief in the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
Religious and other awards
Official awards earned for completing requirements set by religious/other organizations or by Girl Scouts of the USA. These awards are all worn on a similar place on the Girl Scout uniform.
A local Girl Scout council-sponsored camp where girls attend for a week or more or stay overnight. They live in units and plan programs with a staff of trained counselors.
Safety Activity Checkpoints
Publications available from local Girl Scout councils, containing Girl Scout Program Standards and Guidelines that provide for the health and safety of all girls.
A program center located in Pune, India, owned by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Learn more in Global: WAGGGS: World Centers.
Girls in grades 9-10 are Girl Scout Seniors.
A name many local Girl Scout councils give to a specific geographic area and the Girl Scouts within it—all leaders, troops/groups, and girls there. A service unit also includes individuals who give troop support.
Service unit team
In many councils, a team of adults that facilitates service to girls through its volunteers in a geographic area. Usually on the team are the service unit director or manager, recruiter, registrar, and cookie chair, as well as grade-level consultants and trainers.
A lightweight pad or mat used when sitting on the floor or ground.
A camping experience of three or more nights, carried out by a group of experienced girl campers and adult leaders/advisors that uses motorized transportation to move from one site to another. Transportation is normally by van, bus, or automobile but may also be by airplane, boat, or train, or by a combination of these vehicles.
A camping experience of three or more nights, planned and carried out by a group of experienced girl campers and adult leaders/advisors that travels from one site to another under its own power or by manually operated transportation—for example, by bicycle, canoe, horse, or sailboat.
An adult who accompanies a group on a trip involving activities such as camping, backpacking, or canoeing. She or he possesses the knowledge, skills, and experience (e.g., in outdoor leadership, trip planning, risk management, first aid, and supervision) required for the trip.
A camping experience of 24 or more consecutive hours, planned and carried out by a Girl Scout troop/group with its leaders/advisors, using a site approved by the local Girl Scout council.
A small troop/group formed at a day camp or resident camp. Girl Scouts assigns campers to a unit based on age or interest. Also a portion of a campsite designated as the living and working area for a group of campers.
USA Girl Scouts Overseas (USAGSO)
Girl Scouts of the USA's overseas arm, which delivers the Girl Scout program to American girls and girls attending American or International schools outside the continental United States. Learn more in Who We Are: USA Girl Scouts Overseas.
See Girl Scout volunteer.
A person trained in basic water rescue who works under the direction of the lifeguard.
A themed event with a number of stations. Groups rotate between the stations, completing activities at each one.
Wider opportunity (or Wider Op)
Former name of Girl Scout destinations.
World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)
An association of Girl Scout and Girl Guide national organizations around the world. WAGGGS serves approximately eight million Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in 144 countries. Through Girl Scouts of the USA's membership in WAGGGS, each girl and adult registered as a Girl Scout in the United States becomes part of the Girl Guide/Girl Scout world movement. The World Association's mission is to enable girls and young women to develop to their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world. Learn more in Global Girl Scouting: WAGGGS.
World Thinking Day (Formerly, Thinking Day)
February 22, the birthday of both Lady Baden-Powell, World Chief Guide, and her husband, Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Boy Scouts. First celebrated in 1927, the day was renamed at the 1999 Girl Guide/Girl Scout World Conference. Girl Guides and Girl Scouts all over the world use the day to think of each other and exchange greetings, learn about other countries, and give to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund. Learn more in Global Girl Scouting: World Thinking Day.