What comes to mind when you think Girl Scouts? No, not cookies; though 194 million boxes of the iconic snacks were sold in 2015 alone, there’s much more to the 104-year-old organization. Think camping, hiking and exploring outside instead. Hanging out outside is central to what it means to be a Girl Scout—so central, in fact, that the organization’s newest badges all explore art in the outdoors.
The badges were developed, created, and voted on by Girl Scouts themselves in the second-ever Girls’ Choice series. Last year’s winners included badges for horseback riding, archery, paddling and other outdoor adventures, and this year’s selections put a more artistic face on life outside. Each new badge is aimed at a different age group and helps Scouts hone their art chops while respecting nature.
They all require Girl Scouts to get outside and get in touch with their inner artist as they make wildlife-inspired pieces, find music in nature, take pictures and design their own outdoor project. Activities vary by age—Outdoor Art Creators (Brownies aged seven through nine), for example, can make leaf rubbings or wind chimes, while Outdoor Art Masters (Ambassador-level Scouts from grades ten through 12) can create public outdoor art installations and design play spaces for younger girls.
The badges carry on a long tradition of tangible objects that represent the aspirations and accomplishments of go-getter Girl Scouts. As VintageGirlScout.com writes, badges have evolved a lot over the years, transforming from simple felt insignia to more standardized patches. Today, Girl Scouts can earn hundreds of badges for everything from financial literacy to skills related to the sky, health, babysitting, entrepreneurism, and car care. Badges are so iconic that they are even kept in the National Museum of American History as a reminder of what girls can do.
Girls who voted for the new badges had a choice—they could vote for badges related to STEM activities like coding or financial literacy. But this year, they honed in on art outside, selecting a series of badges that let Girl Scouts express themselves with nature as their canvas.
Want to glimpse the new badges yourself? Keep an eye out later this year when the Girl Scouts debut their first-ever Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade float. Featuring girls belaying and climbing up a gigantic globe made of puzzle pieces, the piece will give new meaning to “art and the outdoors.”