A Word About Awards – FAQs

The Highest Awards in Girl Scouting often have the most questions surrounding them.  Why? Because the bar has been raised for girls – and they are meeting the challenge! While you can find information about these awards on USAGSO-North Atlantic’s website as well as GSUSA’s website, a few of the primary frequently asked questions are highlighted below.  For a look at all of the older girl awards, see the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards at a Glance.

Girl Scout Silver Award

Q:  The girls want to create a badge for their Silver Award Project OR Can the girls remodel or clean up the Girl Scout meeting place for their Silver Award Project?

A:  With the advent of the “Make Your Own” badge for the individual girl, Girl Scouts are not emphasizing creating new programs as a group.  Additionally, creating a program that benefits Girl Scouting is actually more along the lines of a Bronze level project (see the Bronze, Silver & Gold at a Glance).  A primary difference between Silver and Bronze is that Bronze Award projects are meant to typically benefit Girl Scouts.  The Silver Award is focused on benefiting community OUTSIDE the Girl Scout community.  This also addresses why refurbishing or remodeling the Girl Scout meeting place is not the Silver Award project’s intent.  The girls should be evaluating the needs of their local community, finding an issue that needs to be addressed and building their project around that.  The Silver Award Guidelines for girls help the girl to go through this process and the Adult Guidelines will help her leader and her advisor for the project to guide her.  Because of those reasons, creating a badge/patch or remodeling a meeting place is not a Silver Award project. These sorts of activities could be a part of the larger project but should not be the entire project.

Q: Who approves the Girl Scout Silver Award project?
A: The Troop Leader/Advisor is the one that approves the project. However, the girls are expected to present their project to the Overseas Committee Management Team (OCMT) for a few reasons. First, the community wants to know the great things the girls are planning to do or are doing. Second, the OCMT can offer suggestions, advice, and be part of the community outreach that is inherent in the Girl Scout Silver Award. But again, the Troop Leader/Advisor is the person that ultimately approves the project after thoroughly educating themselves on the Guidelines.

Q: Is there a deadline for beginning work on the Girl Scout Silver Award or informing the OCMT about the project?
A: No, there is no deadline. A girl can begin work on the Girl Scout Silver Award at any time during the Girl Scout membership year. The only deadline to remember is that it must be completed before September 30 of the year she completes 8th grade.

Q: What is the difference between a Service Project and a Take Action Project?
A: Service vs. Take Action: When girls do service, they help to fulfill an immediate need. When girls take action, they team up with others in an effort to solve a problem and create long lasting change. Taking action can happen in many ways—from renovating an animal shelter to creating a tutoring program for at risk youth. When girls take action, they:

  • Seek to understand the cause of the problem.
  • Decide upon the scale and scope of their project—based on a realistic assessment of their resources.
  • Enlist others from the community to get involved.

In other words, service makes the world better for some people “right now.” Taking action makes the world better for more people for a much longer time. (This means SUSTAINABILITY!) While the world clearly needs both, the Girl Scout Silver Award focus should be on taking action!

Q: Is there a form the girls need to complete to  when they complete the Girl Scout Silver Award?  Does it need to be submitted to buy the Silver Award pin from the shop?
A: Yes and yes.  It is found on the USAGSO-NA website here. It is also helpful to look at this form in the planning process to make sure all the bases are covered in the planning process.

Q: How do I purchase the Girl Scout Silver Award pin?
A: After the girls have earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, forward the completed and signed Final Report to girlprogram@usagso-na.org. Upon receiving the completed form the USAGSO-NA shop will be informed that the girl(s) are eligible for the award. Then pin may then be purchased in the same way you would purchase anything in the shop.

Q: How many Journeys do the girls have to complete before starting their Girl Scout Silver Award project?
A: Girls must have completed one Cadette Grade Level Journey including the Take Action project for that Journey prior to beginning her work on the Girl Scout Silver Award. This Take Action project cannot be used for the Girl Scout Silver Award Project, although it might spark an interest that she would like to pursue in the Girl Scout Silver Award work.

Q: Does a girl have to complete the Girl Scout Silver Award in order to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award?
A: No. However, if a girl completes her Girl Scout Silver Award she only has to complete one Senior or Ambassador Journey prior to working on her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Q: How many hours must the girl put into her Girl Scout Silver Award project?
A: The recommendation is that EACH girl (whether completed as a team or individually) completes at least 50 hours toward her project. There is a handy hour tracker in the Final Report form.

Q: Can a girl earn the Girl Scout Silver Award as part of a team? If so, how many should be on the team.
A: Yes, she can work as a team to complete the Girl Scout Silver Award. It is recommended that the team not be more than 3 girls. If more are involved the project experience gets “watered down” and does not give her the leadership skills that are inherent in the Girl Scout Silver Award.

Girl Scout Gold Award

Q: I keep hearing that the Girl Scout Gold Award should have a “global impact,” what does that mean?
A: One of the things the Girl Scout Gold Award committee looks for in the approval process is: “Does the girl take this project beyond her local area?” The Girl Scout Bronze Award for Juniors is specifically designed for girls to try to impact their local Girl Scout community. The Girl Scout Silver Award is intended to be a project that impacts their local community and the Girl Scout Gold Award is supposed to impact the greater community outside the local area. For example, if the project is a campaign to make an improvement in local drinking water, then the project plans, activities and materials should be able to be “packaged” and shared with other communities so that they could create the same impact simply by following that plan. This could be done by taking the project on the road through speaking engagements in other areas, a website could be built to share the plan’s components or a program notebook could be presented to other communities for use in their area.

Q: Okay that is what “global” means…what does “sustainable” mean when it comes to the Girl Scout Gold Award?
A: Equally important to global application is the project’s sustainability. Just like with the Girl Scout Silver Project, the Girl Scout Gold Award Project needs to be something that makes an impact beyond the initial project. The project should look at the ROOT of the issue and address it, rather than looking at the surface only. For example, if the girl’s passion lies in health and exercise, rather than only hosting a one-time event (fun run, health fair, etc.) the project should encompass educating people on eating right and exercising for the long term. Does that mean they cannot do a fun run or a health fair? No. It just means that components need to also be included that make the impact long lasting or able to be repeated easily. A great way to incorporate sustainability is to get community collaborators to continue the program after the girl is gone.

Q: So how does the approval process work?
A: Now with the exciting new Girl Scout Gold Award app (released in October 2013) girls can complete all the paperwork for each step of the Girl Scout Gold Award online!  AND, they can post their progress on their Facebook and Twitter pages, too!  Read more about this exciting new development in the Girl Scout’s Highest Award for girls here:

Gold Award:  Is there an app for that?

Q: This sounds like a lot of work…more than it used to be. Why the changes?
A: The world that our girls are a part of is constantly changing…with bigger demands, greater expectations and awesome opportunities. Girl Scouts is building girls to be leaders and strives to be in the forefront of preparing girls for these challenges. The structure is there and the expectations are there to set this bar for today’s Girl Scout and tomorrow’s leader. With the guidance their mentors/advisors offer them, this bar is achieved and surpassed by today’s Girl Scout.

So you can see that, while there a quite a few things to consider to make sure the girl is getting the best Girl Scout Leadership Experience possible when achieving the Girl Scout Silver and Gold Award, it is worth every step. It is the process that builds the girl. And we all know that our mission is: “Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.”

For questions, email girlprogram@usagso-na.org

revised Oct. 2013