Ceremonies & Traditions
Girl Scouts love participating in time-honored celebrations, ceremonies and traditions, and they love making up their own traditions, too. Sharing traditions with millions of Girl Scouts—and the huge network of Girl Scout alumnae who came before them—helps remind girls they belong to a big, powerful sisterhood.
Girl Scout celebrations:
Juliette Gordon Low was born on October 31, 1860 a few months before the Civil War began. Girl Scouts of all ages honor Juliette Low’s birthday on or near October 31. Younger girls enjoy hearing the story of the founder, some plan a field trip or special outing like roller-skating, while older girls may choose to do a service project.
Girl Scout Leadership Day
Girl Scout Leader’s Day was first commemorated about 25 years ago on April 22. Originally designed to honor adult volunteers who led Girl Scout troops, over the years Leader’s Day has evolved to recognize the contributions of volunteers throughout our Movement. It is now more appropriately called Girl Scout Leadership Day, an inclusive term that acknowledges the important role that older girls, staff members and others play in striving to make Girl Scouting the premier leadership development organization for girls
Girl Scout Week
The first Girl Scout meeting was held on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Ga. On or near March 12th each year girls celebrate by eating birthday cake and ice cream, attending a unit event, joining with other troops and singing songs, conducting a service project or attending a council-sponsored event.
World Thinking Day
On this day Girl Scouts and Girl Guides worldwide celebrate international friendship. Each year on Feb. 22 they “think about one another” and the millions of members in this sisterhood. Learn more on the GSUSA Web site.
Girl Scouts of the USA is a member of the largest organization for girls and women in the world, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). Currently there are 144 member countries of WAGGGS. WAGGGS operates four World Centers: Our Cabana in Cuernavaca Mexico, Our Chalet in Adelboden Switzerland, Pax Lodge in London England (adjacent the World Bureau) and Sangam in Pune India, where Girl Scouts and Girl Guides (adults and girls) from around the world are welcome to enjoy the sisterhood of Girl Scouting. The WAGGGS organization promotes a triennial theme of significance to the well being of girls worldwide. More information and practical activities relating to World Thinking Day is available on the WAGGGS Web site and the World Thinking Day site.
Girl Scout Traditions:
Girl Scouts make the Girl Scout sign when they say the Girl Scout Promise. The three fingers represent the three parts of the Promise.
The Girl Scout motto is "Be prepared." In the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook, the motto was explained this way: "A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency." The same ideas are true today.
The Girl Scout slogan, which has been used since 1912, is "Do a good turn daily." The slogan is a reminder of the many ways girls can contribute positively to the lives of others.
Girl Scouts can greet each other with the Girl Scout handshake, used by Girl Scouts and Girl Guides all over the world. The handshake is made by shaking hands with the left hand and making the Girl Scout sign with the right. The left hand is nearest to the heart and signifies friendship.
The friendship circle stands for an unbroken chain of friendship with Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world. Everyone stands in a circle, crosses their right arms over their left, and clasps hands with their friends on both sides. Everyone makes a silent wish as a friendship squeeze is passed from hand to hand.
Girl Scouts often make small tokens of friendship to exchange with the Girl Scouts they meet when they travel. These little gifts are called SWAPS, which stands for Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere or Shared With A Pal.
Important Ceremonies in Girl Scouting
Flag ceremonies: It is a tradition for Girl Scouts to perform a flag ceremony at their troop meetings or at their schools, special events or other occasions.
Bridging ceremonies mark a girl's move from one level of Girl Scouting to another.
A Fly-Up is a bridging ceremony for Girl Scout Brownies bridging to Girl Scout Juniors. Girls receive the Girl Scout pin along with their Brownie wings.
A Highest Awards Ceremony honors Girl Scouts who have earned Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.
Girl Scouts' Own is a girl-planned program that allows girls to explore their feelings around a topic, such as friendship or the Girl Scout Promise and Law, using spoken word, favorite songs, poetry, or other expressions. It is never a religious ceremony.
Investiture welcomes new members, girls or adults, into the Girl Scout family for the first time. Girls receive their Girl Scout, Girl Scout Brownie, or Girl Scout Daisy pin at this time.
Journey ceremonies honor Girl Scouts who have earned the final award along a Journey. The ceremonies are usually held at the troop/group level and invite the girls to develop a themed celebration of their Journey, often including friends and family.
- Opening ceremonies start the Girl Scout meeting.
- Pinning ceremonies help celebrate when girls receive grade-level Girl Scout pins.
- Rededication ceremonies are an opportunity for girls and adults to renew their commitment to the Girl Scout Promise and Law.