Have I mentioned I was a girl scout for the better part of my childhood and adolescence? I was starting my silver award as a Cadette by the time I finally quit – and I didn’t even quit because I wanted to. I was just spread too thin, my troop disbanded, I had to join another and something had to give. The Girl Scouts of America taught me how to pee in the woods, balance my checkbook, work with other humans and, yes, write a story – all skills I find very useful to this day. The Girl Scouts of Colorado recently issued a statement of inclusion for a 7-year-old trans * girl scout, sparking a right-wing conservative cookie boycott and Boy Scouts of America to endorse a Christian scouting group that emphasized women spending time with family. Girl Scouts have been boycotted before, by the way, for racial integration and the inclusion of comprehensive sex education in their discussions. And now Girl Scouts of America has given me one more thing to be proud of.
LA’s getting a Video Game Design Patch, y’all! The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles are working together with Women In Games International to create a patch for local scouts (patches are earned locally, badges are national). This patch is reportedly more technical than the equivalent Boy Scout merit badge, which allows for the creation of board and dice games as well as video games. Scouts will be able to earn the badge by designing an actual video game because girls are badass. They’ll be using Gamestar Mechanic, which (in the ultimate of meta) makes a game out of learning to design and create games. You don’t have to be a Girl Scout to use the site, either; they offer several different price points, including free, advanced and professional coursework options.
Girl Scouts as an institution is actually really excellent across the board about including STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in their Journeys and Pathways curricula – they have specific badge experiences reflective of women in STEM fields and they acknowledge that boys take the lead in school with regards to STEM and that Girl Scouts is a safe place to explore STEM and leadership together. They sell an academic report on girls’ aspirations to STEM fields in their Girl Scout shop and partner up with other organizations to bring troops programs in robotics, engineering and even NASA trainings. All of these options are national, so even though this patch will only be available to scouts whose troops belong to the Greater Los Angeles Council, GSUSA is still showing the STEM love to its tiny, radical charges on a broader scale.
This is really important. By the time we’re asking the question “Why aren’t there more women in Science, Tech, Engineering and Math fields?” (answer: misogyny) at a professional level, it’s already too late. After all, how many high school seniors do you know who wake up one morning and decide to, out of the blue, major in computer science without having fostered an interest and skill in it throughout their childhood and adolescent life? Yes, we as adults can learn to code and be really good at it. But technology is like a language – your fluency increases the younger you start. And your desire to do anything is born out of the activities you participate in as a child. So three cheers for Girl Scouts teaching our future to be better than our past.