Using the Girl Scout Leadership Experience

What is the Girl Scout Leadership Experience?

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience gives girls the three keys of leadership

  • Discover - examine their values and use their knowledge to explore the world;
  • Connect - inspire and team with others locally and globally;
  • Take Action - to make the world a better place.

Girls work through these keys as they use Leadership Journeys. In the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, girls expand their skills through badges & awards. Click here to find out the 15 outcomes girls learn from the three keys.



How They Work Together!

Girls have three Journeys to choose from. By traveling through the Journeys at each grade level, they earn awards. Girls can also choose to earn five skill-building badges related to the Journey. With the Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting, they can learn about Girl Scout traditions, earn legacy badges, and work on earning other awards such as My Promise, My Faith, and the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards. All this adds up to a fun time in Girl Scouts!

Click on image to to find out what girls do at each age level.



360° Learning in the 21st Century


To learn how the GSLE curriculum ties into girls' lives, check out 360° Learning in the 21st Century.

You can also check out the interactive Girl Scout Leadership Experience website from GSUSA. Click on the image to learn more.


More About the GSLE

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE)

Today’s effective leaders stress collaboration, inclusion, and a commitment to improving the world around them. Girls themselves tell us that a leader is defined not only by the qualities and skills she hones but also by how she uses those skills and qualities to make a difference in the world -- to achieve transformational change!

For this reason, the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) -- the framework for defining what girls do in Girl Scouting, how they do it, and who will benefit that was borne out of years of research and development -- engages girls in three key activities: discovering who they are and what they value; connecting with others; and taking action to make the world a better place.

Three Keys to Leadership: The Activities Girls Do

In Girl Scouting, girls discover, connect, and take action as they become leaders.The entire Girl Scout program, regardless of the exact topic, is designed to lead to the 15 leadership outcomes (or benefits) that stem from these three keys. Download the free publication; Transorming Leadership by clicking the image to the right. This resource will help you to know if your girls are achieving the 15 outcomes at each grade level.

Discover Key

Girls understand themselves and their values and use their knowledge andskills to explore the world. The benefits intended for girls from the discover key include:

  • Developing a strong sense of self 
  • Developing positive values
  • Gaining practical life skills and practicing healthy living
  • Seeking challenges in the world
  • Developing critical thinking skills

    Connect Key

Girls care about, inspire, and team with others locally and globally. Benefits for girls include:

  • Developing healthy relationships
  • Promoting cooperation and team-building
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Advancing diversity in a multicultural world
  • Feeling connected to their local and global communities

Take Action Key

Girls act to make the world a better place. Benefits intended for girls include:

  • Identifying community needsWorking as resourceful problem-solvers
  • Educating and inspiring others to act
  • Advocating for themselves and others, at home and around the world
  • Feeling empowered to make a difference

The most powerful component of the take action key is, not only do Girl Scouts themselves benefit as they grow in their leadership skills, but communities, the nation, and the world benefit as well. Taking action translates to making the world a better place.

3 Girl Scout Processes: How Girls Go About Doing Those Activities

It’s not just what girls do, but how they are engaged that creates a high-quality experience. All Girl Scout activities are designed to use three processes that make Girl Scouting unique from school and other extracurricular activities. When used together, these processes (girl-led, learning-by-doing, and cooperative-learning) ensure the quality and promote the fun and friendship that’s so integral to Girl Scouting.  Below you’ll find brief descriptions of each process. You can also download the free resource: Transforming Leadership Continued to guide you to understand these three important processes.

Activities Are Girl-Led

Girls of every grade level take an active role in determining what, where, when, why, and how they’ll structure activities. As part of the adult-girl partnership fostered by Girl Scouts, you use this process to strengthen and support girls’ empowerment and decision-making roles in activities. This non-formal education technique enables the learner to actively participate in directing her own learning. Your role is to provide grade-level-appropriate guidance while ensuring that girls lead as much as possible in the planning, organization, set-up, and evaluation of their activities. The older the girl, the more you step back and serve as a resource and support.  

Girls Learn by Doing

Girls use hands-on learning to engage in an ongoing cycle of action and reflection, deepening their understanding of concepts and mastering practical skills. As girls take part in meaningful activities -- instead of simply watching them -- and then later evaluate what they have learned, learning is far more meaningful, memorable, and long-lasting. You assist girls in this process by facilitating grade-level-appropriate experiences through which girls can learn, and also by leading discussions that reflect on those experiences. When girls learn by doing, they can better connect their experiences to their own lives, both in and out of Girl Scouting.

Girls Engage in Cooperative Learning

Girls share knowledge, skills, and experiences in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation, working together on a common goal that engages each individual girl’s diverse talents. In cooperative learning environments, people learn faster, process information more efficiently, and are better able to retain the information learned. This idea, also known as “positive interdependence,” engages girls in meaningful ways, encourages and appreciates differences in outlook and skills, and creates a sense of belonging. In your role as a volunteer, you want to structure cooperative-learning activities that will nurture healthy, diverse relationships, and also give continuous feedback to girls on those learning experiences.

Check out this video on the 3 Processes: How To Have Fun With A Purpose!

These three processes promote the fun and friendship that, for nearly 100 years, have been integral to Girl Scouting. But they do even more: When girls lead, when they learn by doing, and when they engage in cooperative learning, the 15 leadership outcomes (or benefits) discussed in the preceding section are far more likely to be understood and achieved.  The key to achieving these results using the program processes is to ensure progression takes place as girls transition from one Girl Scout Grade Level to another.  For example, Girl Scout Daisies will be guided by the adult leadership through the Learning by Doing process but when they become Girl Scout Seniors, they may be guiding themselves through that process or asking much deeper questions.  


Research tells us that today’s girls are backing down from leadership opportunities and that many of those who do want to lead don’t believe they have what it takes. But as Girl Scouts, girls find themselves practicing leadership and working toward goals in a supportive environment surrounded by people who want to see them succeed: you, the volunteers!
In 2012, its centennial year, Girl Scouts launched ToGetHerThere, the boldest advocacy and fundraising cause campaign dedicated to girls’ leadership issues in the nation’s history. This multi-year effort is helping break down social barriers that hinder girls from leading and achieving success in everything from technology and science to business and industry.
ToGetHerThere’s goal is to create gender-balanced leadership in one generation. To do that, Girl Scouts is asking all adult members of society to help girls reach their leadership potential and place this urgent issue front and center on the national agenda. We all have a role to play in helping girls achieve their full leadership potential because when girls succeed, so does society. Together, we can get her there.
For more about ToGetHerThere, including how to spread the word about the campaign, click here.