Turning Harmonies into Memories

Music has always played a big part in Girl Scouting. Whether singing around a campfire or lifting voices on Washington, D.C.'s Mall during the world's biggest Girl Scout Sing-Along, Girl Scouts have always enjoyed the fun and fellowship that music can create. Songs can be used to open or close meetings, to enhance ceremonies, to lighten a load while hiking, or just to share a special moment with other Girl Scouts.

The first Girl Scout Song Book, which was a collection of songs put together by girl members, was published in 1925. Since that time, the organization's love of music has grown along with the girls it has empowered.

Songs of Thanks and Graces

Many cultures use songs to express thanks for good friends and good food prior to meals or as part of a ceremony. The decision to say a grace, blessing, or invocation is made locally at the group level, and should be sensitive to the spiritual beliefs of all participants.

Songs at Girl Scout events should not exclude others because of their specific religious nature. For example, Doxology is not an appropriate Girl Scout event song, as it is easily identified as a Christian church song, while songs such as "Morning Has Come," although referring to "God," are applicable to any faith. There are also appropriate songs, such as "Make New Friends" or the "Traveler's Grace" that do not refer to God at all. Some songs, such as those sung at World Centers in the language of the host country, are appropriate in the context of a cultural learning experience.

Copyrights and You

Most songs have a writer and a publisher who have the copyright to them (own them). These songs aren't published on Girl Scout Web sites because they do not belong to Girl Scouts of the USA. Most of the songs listed in the Girl Scout songbooks are either there because special arrangements were made with the publisher or author, or because they are now in the "public domain." That means they have been around so long that no one owns them any more—the author is usually no longer living and no publisher can claim ownership. Here's a quick guide to what you can and cannot do:

You Can:

You Cannot:

This applies to everyone—girls, volunteers, councils, camp staff, and so on.

For more information, about copyrights and licensing, including the use of other people's music on the Internet, visit The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), or Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI).

Did You Know?

Irving Berlin, one of America's greatest songwriters, donated all the royalties from his classic "God Bless America" to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of Greater New York.

Actress Debbie Reynolds recorded "Follow the Piper" as part of the Piper Project, a major membership retention and extension plan Girl Scouts initiated in 1966.

Read more about the important role that music plays in Girl Scouts' past, present, and future.