RE-sources

Religion in Life Program for Girl Scouts Supplementary Information for Adult Leaders

Part of Scouting

Guide for Parents, Advisors, and Religious Professionals

Religion in Life for Girl Scouts is a religious recognition program for Unitarian Universalist girls, grades 4-12, who are also Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts of the USA explains:

Religious recognitions are created by national religious organizations/committees to encourage the spiritual growth of their youth members and reinforce many of the values integral to Girl Scouting.

The Religion in Life for Girl Scouts program invites participants to learn about Unitarian Universalist heritage, practices and values, and investigate issues of concern to Unitarian Universalists. It also makes explicit connections between the Unitarian Universalist values and Girl Scouting. In the program, girls are invited to make choices about how they approach each topic and to express themselves using one of several suggested actions or responses.

The Religion in Life for Girl Scouts program pages are presented so that girls themselves may explore and decide how to complete the program’s requirements. This guide provides supplementary information for parents, troop leaders, religion in life advisors, religious professionals, or other adults who support a girl’s participation and completion of the Religion in Life for Girl Scouts program.

Age-Appropriate Programs

There are two distinct versions of the Religion in Life for Girl Scouts program, one for younger girls (Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts, generally in Grades 4-8 or the equivalent for homeschoolers) and one for older girls (Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador Girl Scouts, generally in Grades 6-12 or the equivalent for homeschoolers). Cadette Girl Scouts and others of middle school age can choose between the younger girl program or the older girl program. An individual’s choice should be guided by such factors as whether she plans to complete both programs (doing the younger girls program first and the other at a later time), which materials best suit her learning style and developmental needs, and whether there is a class or group she might join working on one program or the other. Parents and caregivers, religious professionals, and program advisors can review materials and options and offer helpful guidance in making this decision.

Time Required

Completing either program generally takes a few months or a congregational year, but can take more or less time, depending on the pace chosen by the girl(s) and advisor(s). Most commonly, girls begin in the fall and end in April or May before the rush of end-of-year activities.

Cost

The program can be done at low or no cost to the girl. She needs access to this website or, alternatively, a downloaded and printed copy of the program for Younger Girls (Word or PDF) or Older Girls (Word or PDF). She will also need a Religion in Life advisor. When girls do research to complete various requirements, they may use a number of information sources–books at home or in a congregation’s library, public libraries and interlibrary loan, trusted sites on the Internet, and people they know (or are known to their families, advisors, and fellow congregants).

Individual or Group?

Should girls do the program as a class or as individuals?

Either works. This program can be quite enjoyable as a group, with girls experiencing the program together while individually working on fulfilling requirements. It is even possible to include girls working on the older girls program and those working on the younger girls program in the same group, provided there are two different advisors.

While girls working individually can do the program on their own schedule, there are benefits to working on this program with others. Doing the program as a group offers girls and their advisor(s) an opportunity to build community and to share discoveries and actions. Collaboration helps with time management and can also help girls gain momentum for completing the requirements for the award. Working with other girls can also make them more comfortable with some of the activities that involve reaching out to adults in the congregation.

In the end, the number and ages of girls ready to start the program at a particular time may be the deciding factor in whether girls form a group or work alone.

How Religion in Life Relates to My Promise, My Faith

This excerpt is adapted from the Girl Scouts of the USA website:

The My Promise, My Faith pin is a recognition developed by Girl Scouts of the USA to complement existing religious recognitions and allow all girls to further strengthen the connection between their faith and Girl Scouts. It can be earned once each year by Girl Scouts of all ages. A girl earns the My Promise, My Faith pin by carefully examining the Girl Scout Law and directly tying it to tenets of her faith. Religious recognitions, including the Unitarian Universalist Religion in Life: Girls program, are created by national religious organizations/committees to encourage the spiritual growth of their youth members and reinforce many of the values integral to Girl Scouting. While My Promise, My Faith helps girls connect Girl Scouting with their faith, the religious recognitions programs help girls grow stronger in and learn more specifically about their faith.

The Religion in Life for Girl Scouts program offers guidance and links when one of its program requirements also fulfills a requirement of the My Promise, My Faith program.

Alumnae Group

Sometimes girls have such a good time with each other while completing Religion in Life for Girl Scouts that they do not want to stop meeting. Meeting with other girls who share their values and with whom they have built working and trusting relationships can be quite an empowering experience for girls. Like any other alumni association, a Religion in Life Alumnae group can include all girls who have completed one of the Religion in Life for Girl Scouts programs. Such a group will still need adult advisors, but they need not be the same advisors as those who took the girls through the initial award program. A girl’s participation in a Religion in Life Alumnae group can be independent of her involvement in Girl Scouting.

If they create an alumnae group, girls will need to take a large role in planning their own programming. Girls might volunteer in pairs to run a meeting’s activities. One helpful way to structure the program is to look for a mix of four elements: service, learning, spirituality, and community.

An ongoing program can strengthen girls’ relationships to each other and their faith community, building leadership skills and a support network as they go. Once an alumnae group is established, it is important to find ways to incorporate new members as additional girls complete the Religion in Life for Girl Scouts program. “Mixers” of alumnae and girls in the process of earning the award can serve as incentive and encouragement for finishing the program. Welcoming initiation ceremonies can also help new alumnae gain a sense of belonging in the group.