For the past several years, Girl Scouts of the USA has surveyed Girl Scouts, their parents and their troop leaders to measure:
- Members’ satisfaction with Girl Scouting
- Effectiveness of Girl Scouts’ investment in technology intended to make members’ lives easier, and
- Impact of Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) outcomes.
In light of the survey results, we’ve made a number of changes intended to help make Girl Scouting more purposeful and to make volunteering with Girl Scouts more satisfying. GSUSA will be sending the 2018 online Girl Scout Voices Count survey invitation early next month. Before you receive it, we want you to know that we are paying attention to what our members are saying; your voices do count.
During April 2017, more than 200,000 Girl Scout members nationwide took the survey; about half of them were girls, one-third were parents and the remainder were troop leaders. GSUSA found that, nationally, most girls, parents and leaders are satisfied with their Girl Scout experience, likely to recommend Girl Scouting to others, and plan to be members for at least another year. In central Maryland, 1,445 girls, 1,123 parents and 607 troop leaders took the survey.
|# Girls||% by
|# Parents||# Troop
|% Troop Leaders|
The greatest percentage of GSCM girls who responded were Brownies (29%). Only 3% were Ambassadors. Half of the girls had been a Girl Scout less than three years.
Of all GSCM girl respondents, 85% said they planned to be Girl Scouts next year, with 63% saying they “liked a lot” being in Girl Scouts and another 27% “liked” it. More than half (55%) are likely to recommend Girl Scouts if a friend or another girl asked about joining. Two hundred girls (14%) said they don’t know if they want to be in Girl Scouts next year (10%) or they are not planning to be in Girl Scouts next year (4%). Asked what we can do to make them stay, their top answers were:
- Have my troop go on more field trips
- Have my troop do more outdoor activities
- Make me feel like I’m part of the group
More than two-thirds (68%) of parents estimated that their Girl Scouts earned four or more petals or badges during FY 2017. However, they said 47% of the girls went on no overnight camping trips with their troops.
Similar to the national results, we found that girls who definitely plan to stay in Girl Scouts of Central Maryland did a greater variety of activities than girls who did fewer activities. Of those who had re-registered with GSCM before taking the survey in April 2017:
- 96% earned petals or badges during the prior year
- 91% took overnight camping trips with their troops
- 91% went on outings or field trips with their troops
- 85% did Take Action/community service projects
- 79% participated in outdoor troop activities other than camping
- 67% did STEM activities with their troops
The girls in GSCM have confidence in themselves and show concern for others. They were asked several questions to measure each of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience outcomes:
- Sense of Self
- Positive Values
- Challenge Seeking
- Healthy Relationships
- Community Problem Solving
On questions designed to measure girls’ Sense of Self, 86% had a mean score of 4 or greater on a 5-point scale, which shows they are developing confidence and are happy with themselves. On questions designed to gauge girls’ degree of caring and integrity (Positive Values), 76% averaged 4 or more.
|GSLE Outcomes Scores||Low
(mean < 3)
(mean 3 to 3.99)
(mean 4 or more)
|Sense of Self||2%||13%||86%|
|Community Problem Solving||11%||39%||50%|
However, only 50% had completed Leadership Journeys.
In 2017, Girl Scouts launched new journeys and badges focused on outdoors and STEM. The new outdoors journey can strengthen girls’ outdoor skills and ignite their interest in environmental stewardship. The STEM journeys help girls explore engineering, computer science, or robotics. There is now even an Outdoor STEM journey, Think Like a Citizen Scientist, that lets girls make observations, collect data, and get feedback from scientists on their research and findings.
Of the 1,123 GSCM parents who took the survey, 76% said they were Satisfied (41%) or Extremely Satisfied (35%) with their girl’s experience in Girl Scouts. Nearly four-fifths of parents said their girl plans to stay in Girl Scouts another year.
Nearly one-third (31.4%) said their girl was not returning or they were not sure of her return. When asked “What could Girl Scouts do differently to make you want her to come back next year?” parents’ top answers were: Ensure that girls are working towards meaningful goals at each troop meeting (44 people gave this response)
|Meaningful goals at each troop meeting||12%||44|
|Better troop leader (please explain)*||12%||42|
|Place less emphasis on cookie/product sales||10%||37|
|Offer shorter-term, seasonal programs||9%||31|
|Have troop do more outdoor activities||7%||25|
|Have troop do more service projects||7%||25|
|Nothing, she does not want to return||5%||17|
|Address conflicts/ meanness among girls in the troop||5%||16|
|Nothing, she is graduating||4%||13|
|Have troop earn more badges||4%||13|
|Make Girl Scouts more affordable||4%||14|
|Make Girl Scouts more girl-led||4%||13|
|Have troop meet more often||3%||9|
|More convenient troop meetings days, time or location||3%||9|
|Other (please explain)||11%||45|
The 607 GSCM troop leaders who responded to the survey in 2017 had volunteered with GSCM an average of 5.2 years and 75% had been Girl Scouts as a child. Twenty-four percent led multi-level troops. And 71% of respondents said they plan to continue as a GS troop leader next year.
A full 88% of GSCM troop leaders who took the survey “agree” or “agree a lot” that, as a Girl Scout troop leader, they make a difference in the lives of girls. But only 65% “agree” or “agree a lot” that they feel supported by the parents/guardians in their troop.
Another leader said “I feel like there needs to be more instruction on how to be a leader and what types of activities to do with the girls.”
To address this issue GSUSA on a national level and GSCM on a local level has taken steps to improve support ad resources for leaders:
The Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) provides resources for troop leaders to help them plan troop activities for a calendar year including a list of materials needed for meeting activities, easily connect with parents via email, enter the troop’s finances, easily locate resources like Safety Activity Checkpoints, view the troop roster, renew girls’ membership and update their contact information. The VTK also helps parents know how they can be involved in their troop.
In addition, the council has been more diligent about ensuring that troop leaders get a good understanding of the organization and their role as new troop leader and volunteer. We also ensure that volunteers and parents have a number of online information resources (V.I.N.E., Facebook, GSCM Blog, Service Unit Talking Points) that allow them to be informed of council news, updates and initiatives.
|Agree a Lot||Agree||Agree a Little||Disagree a Little||Disagree||Disagree a Lot|
|As a Girl Scout troop leader, I make a difference in the lives of girls.||48%||40%||11%||1%||0||0|
|Being a Girl Scout troop leader gives me opportunities to use my talents, skills and/or passions.||33%||47%||17%||2%||1%||0%|
|I feel supported by the parents/guardians in my troop||29%||36%||30%||8%||5%||3%|
|I know what is expected of me as a Girl
Scout troop leader.
|Using Girl Scout program materials makes my job as a Girl Scout volunteer easier.||9%||35%||32%||11%||9%||5%|
|In Girl Scouts, my opinions seem to count.||8%||31%||29%||15%||11%||6%|
|Girl Scouts provides the training I need to be a successful troop leader.||8%||45%||25%||10%||9%||4%|
|Using Girl Scout digital tools (e.g., council websites, Volunteer Tool Kit, eBudde, Snap, Girl Scout social media) helps me manage my troop effectively.||5%||27%||34%||16%||14%||5%|
|The staff of Girl Scouts makes me feel that I am important and valuable.||7%||32%||30%||14%||10%||8%|
When GSCM troop leaders have questions about Girl Scouts, they are most likely to go to the council website or to the person who recruited them. Only 4% go to their Service Unit or community support person. However, they do think the Service Units are valuable, with 48% of leaders who responded saying the most important supports their Service Units give are “facilitating the sharing of ideas” and “organizing events to which I can bring my troop.”
From council staff, GSCM troop leaders want materials that are more engaging and less paperwork and rules.
With a full year of the new Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) under our belts, this year’s survey results should provide a much clearer idea of how GSCM troop leaders are utilizing the new tools provided through the CEI platform. Council-specific results are expected to be available in June. We look forward to hearing your challenges and successes via the 2018 survey.