Girls, Families, and Communities Grow Through Girl Scouting

The 1997 Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. National Outcomes Study

By Melanie Hwalek and Margaret E. Minnick (New York, N.Y.: GSUSA, 1997). 55 pp.

Cover of Girls, Families, and Communities Grow Through Girl ScoutingIs Girl Scouting making a difference? Our National Outcomes Study—Girls, Families, and Communities Grow Through Girl Scouting (1997)—a first of its kind, addressed this issue. Through the years, Girl Scouts of the USA has conducted numerous studies to assess the impact of its program and its special initiatives.

Girls, Families, and Communities, a study conducted in collaboration with SPEC Associates, Inc. (Social Program Evaluators and Consultants, Inc.), was designed to provide a fresh look at the value of Girl Scouting for girls, including outcomes and opportunities. The survey included nearly 8,000 Girl Scout girl members, parents, adult volunteer troop leaders, and non-Girl Scout girls and teachers.

Through extensive pre-testing and focus groups, the following nine outcomes for girl members were derived and measured:

  1. Self-reliance
  2. Self-competence
  3. Social skills (ability to make friends)
  4. Respect for others
  5. Feelings of belonging
  6. Values and decision-making
  7. Helpfulness/concern for the community
  8. Teamwork
  9. Leadership

Junior Girl Scouts (ages 8-11) said troop activities gave them more opportunities to experience all nine outcomes than school activities. Cadette (ages 11-14) and Senior Girl Scouts (ages 14-17) said troop activities gave them much greater levels of experiencing leadership, respect for others, feelings of belonging, and values/decision-making than school activities.

Adult volunteers also benefited from serving girls as Girl Scout troop leaders. More than 8 in 10 adults said they developed skills they otherwise would not have developed, and more than 9 in 10 felt that being a leader had allowed them to give back to their community.

Furthermore, because of Girl Scouting, almost 1 in 2 volunteers said that parents spent more quality time with their daughters, and nearly 1 in 2 parents reported their relationship with their daughter improved.

This study laid the groundwork for the Tool Kit for Measuring Outcomes of Girl Scout Resident Camp, a compilation of tools designed to obtain evidence about ways girls grow strong through Girl Scout Resident Camp.

For more information about the research, email the Girl Scout Research Institute or call (800) GSUSA 4 U.