The Girl Scout badge has always been a sort of social barometer. There was 1913’s “matron housekeeper,” which encouraged a working knowledge of housecleaning and meat market prices. The “signaller” honor of 1920 fostered an understanding of Semaphore and Morse Code. And what of these less-than-halcyon days of consumer debt and economic crisis? Why, a badge for “Good Credit,” of course, as well as those for other personal finance achievements such as “Money Manager,” “Budgeting,” and “Financing My Future.”
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“Girls really want to feel financially independent,” says Michelle Tompkins, a Girl Scouts USA spokeswoman. “The effect of money on every level—it’s something so prevalent right now in families, in society.”
The finance-oriented badges are among 136 unveiled in the Girl Scouts’ first badge redesign in 25 years, the result of a years-long process in which scouts themselves laid out a list of skills they would like to learn. While badges for financial prudence might seem particularly topical, Tompkins sees them as an extension of an ethos that has been in place since the 100-year-old organization began its cookie sales in the 1920’s.
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“We’ve always had girls getting hands on business experience,” she says. Sound money management skills are a prerequisite for business and leadership success—aims Girl Scouts USA has always encouraged, according to Tompkins.
To earn badges, girls must complete a five-step process to demonstrate a basic proficiency in the respective topic. Tasks are grounded in the real world. For an “Ambassador”-level 11th or 12th grade scout to earn the “Good Credit” badge, for example, she may meet with a loan officer at a bank to learn about relevant issues. After learning about credit reports and credit scores, girls make “a commitment” about how they will use credit throughout their life, Tompkins says. Likewise, for middle school-aged scouts to earn the “Financing my Dream,” badge, they must plot out the kind of life they wish to lead—job? home? philanthropy?—and determine the salary they would need to tie those things together.
Collectively, the new badges amount to a K-12 financial literacy educational program that isn’t necessarily reflected in traditional school curriculums, Tompkins says. Now, the Girl Scouts are focused on looking for volunteers, such as those with financial management experience, who might assist the organization. Check out www.girlscouts.org for more info.
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Image: juverna, via Flickr.com