By Catherine Amoriello
Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) believes all girls should have the opportunity to participate in Girl Scouts. But what if there’s no local troop available for your girl to join? Or what if she enjoys participating in sports or other activities that don’t allow her time to attend troop meetings?
Luckily, where you choose to live or your girl’s busy schedule does not have to keep her from experiencing the benefits of Girl Scouting. If joining a troop is not an option for your girl, consider having her participate as an individually registered member, otherwise known as a Juliette.
Juliettes’ get their name from Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low and follow in her footsteps of shaping their own Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE). Juliettes embark on their Girl Scout journey individually, allowing them to experience Girl Scouts on their own time.
“If a girl is busy with extracurricular activities or has travel issues, she has the opportunity to participate in Girl Scouts as a Juliette without having to attend troop meetings,” said Gina Naticchi, GSHPA Volunteer Support Coordinator.
Juliettes can do anything Girl Scouts in a troop would do, such as earn badges and complete journeys; earn Highest Awards; go to camp; participate in the Fall Product and Cookie programs; and attend Girl Scout events and activities. They can still receive adult support and guidance through their Juliette Mentor, who is either a parent/caregiver or another trusted adult, and Juliettes also have the opportunity to connect with each other through volunteer-led Facebook groups.
GSHPA had 180 girls registered as Juliettes during the 2021-2022 membership year, and Juliette Girl Scout Freyja was one of these independent girl members.
Freyja is a 12-year-old Cadette from Wyoming County. She’s been a Girl Scout for seven years and was encouraged to join by her mother Suzanne Fisher. Freyja has had many experiences through Girl Scouts, including learning about different outdoor and indoor activities, exploring women’s history through visiting the museum at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, N.Y., and gaining skills and knowledge that will prove useful when she grows up. And she’s accomplished all of this as a Juliette.
“Freyja goes to multiple Girl Scout events in addition to working on awards and badges herself. Because of this, I feel she gets to socialize with a wider variety of Girl Scouts than if she was with a dedicated troop,” Fisher said. “She continues to grow in confidence through Girl Scouts – this is a sisterhood of people who she knows will work together and be thinking of each other, even if it’s a single Juliette she meets online or at an event.”
For every challenge Freyja faces as a Juliette, or Fisher and her husband face as her Juliette Mentors, the family has a solution. While Freyja does not have regular meetings and may struggle to complete badges because of a lack of a consistent Girl Scout schedule, the family works together to plan ahead and schedule time for Freyja to complete her activities and attend events. And since Fisher and her husband cannot drop Freyja off at Girl Scout events individually and must also attend as parent chaperones or adult members, the couple ensures they are up to date on their Girl Scout memberships and volunteer clearances.
For girls or parents/caregivers who are hesitant about joining Girl Scouts as a Juliette and fear missing out on the “traditional” troop experience, Freyja and Fisher assure families won’t miss out on any of the Girl Scout fun.
“You get to try a lot of new things, and you get to do more stuff you like,” Freyja said.
“Juliettes have a big advantage. I see Juliettes as a great way for kids in remote areas of the council to join and become Girl Scouts, and they can do it their own way,” Fisher said.
Do you think the Juliette Girl Scout experience is right for your girl? Join GSHPA on Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. for our Juliette Open House to learn more about this unique membership opportunity. Attendees will learn more about what Juliettes can do in Girl Scouts and participate in a live Q&A session with GSHPA staff. GSHPA will also host a Juliette roundtable discussion on Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m. Both of these events will be great opportunities for girls and parents/caregivers to ask questions, access helpful resources, and network with other Juliette families.
GSHPA knows your girl has many interests – so let her keeping doing what she loves best AND watch her grow in Girl Scouts as a Juliette!
For troop leaders who would like to engage Juliettes in their local area, or Juliettes who would like to engage with local troops, please contact your VSC to learn more.