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Traditions

Traditions are an important part of Girl Scouts. They give Girl Scouts a sense of history—and inspire them to be the best they can be.

Juliette Gordon Low had a dream.

Since the founding of the Girl Scout Movement more than a century ago, Daisy's small circle of girls has grown to include nearly 2 million girl members and more than 50 million Girl Scout alums—united across the decades by a spirit of lifelong friendship and shared adventure and the desire to do big things to make the world a better place.

Sharing traditions with millions of Girl Scouts—and the huge network of Girl Scout alums who came before them—helps remind girls they belong to a big, powerful sisterhood.

Badges

Girl Scout awards and badges are a great way for a girl to explore her interests and learn new skills—and to remember every adventure and show the world what she’s accomplished.

Does she want to invent something new, paint a masterpiece, or learn about endangered wildlife. Star in a play, design a website, or go kayaking?

At Girl Scouts, she can do all that and more, and earn Girl Scout badges as she goes!

Legacy Badges

A cornerstone of Girl Scouting, the seven legacy badges build on over 100 years of Girl Scout history. Each of these badges (Artist, Athlete, Citizen, Cook, First Aid, Girl Scout Way, and Naturalist) is available at five levels of Girl Scouting, from Brownie to Ambassador.

Badge Explorer

Get all the latest details and shop links for every topic and grade level in the Award and Badge Explorer. 

Bridging

Bridging is an important transition in a Girl Scout's life. It's a defining moment when a girl becomes aware of her achievements and is ready for new adventures and responsibilities. Celebrating this change should be fun, personalized, and memorable for everyone involved. And most of all, it should be designed by the girls in true partnership with adults.

Learn More »

Ceremonies

Ceremonies help Girl Scouts mark special events throughout the year, such as bridging to another level, earning a National Leadership Journey award, or getting a Girl Scout pin.

Ceremonies can commemorate accomplishments or add something special to the beginning or end of a group's meeting. Whatever its purpose, every Girl Scout ceremony helps girls share in Girl Scout history and traditions—and create their own special memories.

Important Ceremonies in Girl Scouting
  • A Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award ceremony honors Girl Scouts who have earned these special awards and is usually held at the troop/group level or combined with council recognition.
  • 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 girls to develop a themed celebration of their Journey, often including friends and family.
  • Opening ceremonies start the Girl Scout meeting.

Learn more about important ceremonies in Girl Scouting.

Girl Scout Days

Special Days in Girl Scouting—All Year Long!

Throughout the year, girls and adults celebrate some very special days in Girl Scouting.

  • Juliette Gordon Low's birthday or Founder's Day, October 31, marks the birth in 1860 of Girl Scouts of the USA founder Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia.
  • World Thinking Day, February 22, celebrates the birthdays of Girl Guide/Girl Scout founder Robert, Lord Baden-Powell (1857–1941) and World Chief Guide Olave, Lady Baden-Powell (1889–1977). The day is also a time to donate funds to the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund.
  • Girl Scouts’ birthday, March 12, commemorates the day in 1912 when Juliette Gordon Low officially registered the organization's first 18 girl members in Savannah, Georgia.
  • Girl Scout Week is celebrated each March, starting with Girl Scout Sunday and ending with Girl Scout Sabbath on a Saturday, and it always includes Girl Scouts’ birthday, March 12.
  • Girl Scout Sunday and Girl Scout Sabbath give girls an opportunity to attend their place of worship and be recognized as a Girl Scout.
  • Girl Scout Leader's Day, April 22, honors all the volunteers who work as leaders and mentors in partnership with girls. On this day, girls, their families, and communities find special ways to thank their adult Girl Scout volunteers.
  • Girl Scouts’ national convention is celebrated every three years, and G.I.R.L. 2020 was held virtually. We'll convene again in 2023. Stay tuned for details!
Songs & Games

Girl Scout songs and games are as well-known and loved as any of the Girl Scout traditions.

SWAPS

SWAPS, “Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere,” the tradition of Girl Scouts exchanging keepsakes, started long ago when Girl Scouts and Girl Guides first gathered for fun, song, and making new friends.


SWAPS Basics

SWAPS should:

  • Tell something about the givers or their group. (Girls may include their address or email information so others can write to them.)
  • Represent the givers' country, community, or local Girl Scout council.

Tips for SWAPS Givers

  • Think about the kind of SWAPS they would like to receive from someone else.
  • Try not to spend a lot of money. Consider making something from donated or recycled material.
  • Be creative, and take time to make hand-crafted SWAPS. (Include directions for making them if it is a craft project that can be replicated.)
  • Try to have one for each event participant and staff member.
  • Plan ahead so there's time to make them.
  • Make SWAPS that can be worn, used, or displayed.
  • Ask their group or service unit for help, if needed, in putting SWAPS together.
  • Make them portable. Remember, they must be carried or shipped ahead to the event, where other girls will be carrying them away.

What to Do with SWAPS

  • Include them with thank-you letters to sponsors and those who helped with a travel event.
  • Keep them in a scrapbook, memory box, or shadow box.
  • Use them to make a quilt or other textile project.
  • Put pins and patches on a hat or jacket.
  • Start a council best-of-SWAPS collection.

SWAPS Safety and Etiquette

  • Never refuse to swap with another person.
  • Swap face-to-face, especially if exchanging addresses or email information.
  • Avoid using glass or sharp objects in SWAPS.
  • Follow all Safety Activity Checkpoints guidelines.
  • Avoid using food products, unless they are individually wrapped.
Uniforms

For over a century, Girl Scouts have proudly worn distinctive uniforms that symbolize the high ideals for which the organization stands. Girls want to look—and feel—their best when representing Girl Scouts. And now they can, with uniform options that are in step with today's trends and active lifestyles.

Our new unified look keeps the iconic elements of the classic Girl Scout uniform, but adds a few modern twists.

Girl Scouts at each level now wear one required element (tunic, sash, or vest) to display official pins and awards. Girls can mix and match pieces from the official Girl Scout collection to complete the uniform, or add items from their own wardrobes.

Shop uniforms, badges, pins, and more.

Girl Scout Foundations

Here are a few popular traditions for Girl Scouts to enjoy:

  • Girl Scout Sign: Girl Scouts make the Girl Scout sign—raising three fingers of the right hand with the thumb holding down the pinky—when they say the Girl Scout Promise. The three fingers represent the three parts of the Promise.
  • Motto: 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 holds true today.
  • Slogan: 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.
  • Greeting: Girl Scouts can greet one another 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.
  • Friendship Circle: Representing the unbroken chain of friendship among Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world, the Friendship Circle involves Girl Scouts standing in a circle, crossing their right arms over their left, and clasping hands with their friends on both sides. Everyone then makes a silent wish as a friendship squeeze is passed from hand to hand around the circle.
  • SWAPS: Girl Scouts often make small tokens of friendship to exchange with the Girl Scouts they meet while traveling. These little gifts are called ”SWAPS,” which stands for “Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere.”