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October 20, 2014

Shift From Outdoor Pursuits Fuels Debate Within Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts' international convention in Salt Lake City last week saw Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. debating its place in a changing world and reaffirming a commitment to outdoor activities that many scouting enthusiasts said had waned in recent years, writes The New York Times.

Grass-roots scouting activists have pushed back against a decade of changes by the venerable youth organization as it sought to stem a membership decline and remain relevant for 21st-century girls. Much of the criticism focused an overhaul of the Girl Scouts' traditional badge system that shifted the focus from camping and crafts to social issues and skills in areas such as science, technology, and media.

Pressure from scouts and volunteers was underscored by surveys showing the extent to which scouting provided girls with outdoor experiences they would not have had otherwise. Vicki Wright, a 35-year scouting employee and volunteer, said the organization would introduce at least four new outdoor badges by next fall and was working to developing new programs for troops and leaders.

Read a 2013 Chronicle of Philanthropy article on leadership and fiscal struggles at the Girl Scouts.