Girl Scout Badges Get a 21st Century Makeover

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Girl Scouts of the USA

Girl Scouts of the USA has introduced a series of new badges intended to reflect and reward skills needed in the modern world. 

While many of the traditional badges will still remain in use, they will be supplemented by digital moviemaking, web design, and financial literacy (all the better to sell those cookies with!).

“We want girls to become leaders in their own lives and in the world.  These badges focus on giving girls fun with purpose, so they can go ahead and be leaders in the next century,” Alisha Niehaus of Girl Scouts of the USA told MSNBC.  Badges have not been comprehensively updated since 1987.

Today’s young girls are digitally savvy, and less dependent (and perhaps less interested) in conventional badges that teach cooking and camping.  Now, they can aim for a “Science of Happiness” badge, designed to help them in the pursuit of contentment, as well as the “My Promise, My Faith” badge, which will show how the tenets of any faith correspond to the Girl Scout Law – being fair, considerate, and respectful, for those who have long ago tucked away their sashes.

(MORE: Beyond Pink and Blue: Are Scout Handbooks Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes?)

The new badges are detailed in the updated handbook The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, which has almost sold out its initial run of 850,000 copies, according to Girl Scouts of the USA.  The scouting community has responded positively to the changes.

The Girl Scouts seem determined to modernize, and the badge overhaul is a welcome update for the beloved youth organization.  In addition, they recently introduced a new program called “Leadership Journeys,” which groups activities around themes such as healthy living or practical life skills.  Girls are also free to design their own areas of study if they want to explore something not covered by the 100-plus existing badges.

The mission of the Girl Scouts, who today number more than three million, has been and continues to be to empower girls and instill values of honesty, courage, and compassion.  Girl Scouts will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2012.

MORE: More Than Just Cookies: Rethinking the Girl Scouts

Allison Berry is a contributor at TIME.  You can continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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