Girls Scouts Attempts To Modernize, Attract MinoritiesS

In response to falling membership, Girl Scouts is modernizing, de-emphasizing badges and introducing more online programs. One thing staying the same: the cookies.

In the past 10 years, Girls Scouts has experienced a more than 8 percent decline in membership to 2.5 million girls, according to theWashington Post. Believing that the decline is a result of the Scouts stodgy image and failure to attract urban and minority girls, the organization has hired a brand manager, Laurel Richie. "It's no different from preparing an ad campaign for a classic brand that needs a bit of a facelift to show that it's still relevant," said Richie, who has worked on advertising campaigns for Campbell's soup and American Express.

As part of the revamp, the Girl Scouts introduced Journeys last year, a new curriculum that replaced the system of earning badges (though girls can still earn badges if they want). The new books are designed to talk in the voice of a friend rather than a teacher, and focus on themes like teamwork and nutrition rather rather than learning one specific skill. Though there will still be camping and sing-alongs, the organization has launched a new website called LMK (text-ease for "let me know") that includes blogs and forums. There is also a program that lets girls videoconference with other troops around the world.

The Girls Scouts has always let individual troops choose which programs to focus on, and now the organization is hoping that troop autonomy can attract more immigrant parents and children. The Girl Scouts' pitch to parents who have recently immigrated is that the group can help their daughters integrate into American culture. Earlier, we learned that Muslim girls are flocking to the Girl Scouts, and now the organization is focusing on recent Hispanic immigrants.

Hispanics make up 15 percent of the population but only 6 percent of Girl Scouts, so the group has hired a marketing firm that focuses on Hispanic Americans. Girl Scouts multicultural marketing manager Amelia de Dios Romero says that her research shows recent immigrants aren't familiar with the organization, or, "They associated us with the cookies and the camping, and those were both scary concepts... Selling cookies, to them, meant going door-to-door to strangers, and camping was sleeping in the woods with danger there." We say making the Girl Scouts an organization that focuses more on projects like financial literacy and energy conservation than sewing badges is a good step for all American girls; its not just immigrant parents who are put off by shilling cookies and sleeping in the woods.

Blogs In, Badges Out As Girl Scouts Modernize [Washington Post]