In the United States, every four years, those 18 years of age or older are given the opportunity to go to the polls to vote and elect a president. Pretty exciting, right? Is today, November 3rd, the only date Americans get to participate in our government? I hope you are answering no!
It is our job as US Citizens to spend time learning and researching the issues impacting our communities. Yes, adults are able to vote, but this is so much more to our government than just the presidential elections.
Long before Girl Scouts are old enough to vote they can be engaged in their local and national governments.
Girl Scouts offer a wide variety of citizenship badges to help girls learn how the government works and how they can be involved. We have grouped these lessons into four important topics that will help every one of all ages understand and feel comfortable engaging and voicing their opinions.
The Rule of Law:
The United States works within the idea that we all follow the rule of the law. When starting to have law oriented conversations with your troop it is important to explain it in a way they will understand. A good way to start is to discuss how the laws have been created and how the law is enforced. A great way of explaining it to girls in your troop can be through Girl Scout Badges.
- Badges to explore: Junior Inside Government
The Three Branches of Government:
It is best to think of the United States Government as a tree that has three branches to keep it balanced. The three branches work together to keep the tree upright and strong. So what are these three branches? First, we have the legislative branch who makes the rules. Second, the judiciary branch, which is comprised of judges who decide individual cases. And third, the executive branch which includes the president and agencies who carry out and enforce these laws. The three branches work together to protect the law. Additionally, it is important to note that these branches can be found at all levels of government including federal, state and local.
- Badges to Explore: Democracy for Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors
Influences on Government:
Today we live in a world where news is available 24 hours a day. It can be found everywhere we look, from television and the radio to the internet, mail, billboards, etc. It is clear that those sharing information in the news are very passionate about their beliefs. Traditionally these beliefs and influences have the ability to change what issues are up for debate. When discussing this topic with your troops it is important to give them an understanding of how things such as media, money, etc. may affect the information they are seeing. It is important to have a well-rounded view and the badges included below will help you start those conversations with your troop.
- Badges to Explore: Cadette Finding Common Ground, Cadette Netiquette, Senior Truth Seeker
Everyone Can Be Involved
It is important for Girl Scouts to be familiar and involved with their local, state and federal governments. Voting is not the only way to have an impact. Girls of all ages can learn about the causes they care about to form their own opinions. They can also write letters, visit elected officials and volunteer in the community to make an impact.
It is important to keep in mind how valuable each and every individual can be. In his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln, said that the government as a whole is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
So it is important for Girl Scouts to have these discussions with their families, friends and troops to learn and practice participating the government. If you would like additional ideas on how to start this process, please check out the badges included below or visit www.gshpa.org.
- Badges to Explore: Ambassador Public Policy, Brownie Celebrating Community, Daisy Good Neighbor