Perhaps I’m coming on a little strong. It is Monday morning, after all. And I’m aware that the Girl Scouts organization has made strides in furthering the access to STEAM educational resources and has built a community focused on building the leadership and entrepreneurial skills of our young female generations.
However, when I opened an email from N’s Girl Scout troop leader yesterday, I was taken back decades to the Girl Scouts I remember as a child – a time when girls were expected to make crafts, cook, and sing. My reaction was not to the troop leader herself – no, the troop leader is an amazing woman who puts in an immense amount of work to provide our daughters with experiences that build our girl’s confidence and leadership skills while challenging the girly expectation society places on our daughters. My reaction was to the Girl Scout Foundation’s activity suggestions for the Bug Badge.
I volunteered to run a badge meeting for N’s Girl Scout troop in April. At the start of the year, the troop leaders asked the girls to choose their top three badges that they would like to earn for the year. N chose:
- First Aid
Unfortunately for me, they have already earned their Dance and First Aid badges this year. So that leaves Bugs.
When I was pregnant with N, just before I found out I was having a girl, I said, “I really hope I am having a girl. I can’t handle my little boy bringing home bugs and worms.” And do you know what I was blessed with? A little girl who, during her first summer walking, brought home a sandwich bag filled with cicada shells that she found in her grandparent’s garden.
Because why would I have a little girl who didn’t like bugs like her mama?
Hell, she was a damn lady bug her first Halloween.
And so, I was not surprised to learn that the Bug Badge was in N’s Top 3 list. This is the girl who, when we discovered that we had a stink bug infestation when a swarm of at least 30 flew into our kitchen, excitedly collected them in a jar she filled with dirt and leaves.
And then left them on the counter to show me when we got home from work. ?
So when I read the meeting notes for the Girl Scout Bug Badge, I was appalled.
The meeting notes are for two 90-minute meetings. We only have two hours, so I would naturally have to cut the notes down, but here are the six activities they suggest:
- Draw your favorite bug on a poster and share with the group why it is your favorite.
- Split the group into two or three teams. Have each girl hold the waist of the girl in front of her. Pretend they are centipedes and race to the other side of the field while holding each other’s waists.
- Make a caterpillar out of egg cartons and spiders out of paper plates. Be sure to bring paint and googly eyes!
- Design a bug home in a shoebox and collect dirt and leaves. Collect a bug from outside and observe it inside the box. Give the girls 10 minutes to observe and then return the bugs to their home outside.
- Make “bug” snacks out of raisins (ants) and graham crackers (dirt). Eat apple slices with honey (from bees).
- Sing “Make New Friends” (and you know, keep the old), because we should be friends with bugs.
Pardon my French, but are you fu*king kidding me?
The outrage that I felt boiling in my chest was just the tip of the iceberg. I closed the handouts, slammed my laptop shut, and turned my attention to the Super Bowl.
I still can’t.
At a time when society, as a whole, is making this massive push for equality, where we have women’s marches regularly, where I was just watching the first female coach in the Super Bowl – this? Crafts? Make-believe? And cooking?
For a bug badge?
Oh, hell no. Not on my watch.
Once I calmed myself down, I read over these activities multiple times. I am so disheartened. I find the activities to be patronizing, primitive, and quite frankly, sexist. Perhaps my reaction is a little strong. Perhaps I am not thinking clearly about this. But I find it hard to believe that the Boy Scouts is having the boys pretend they are centipedes or crafting caterpillars out of egg cartons.
If I ran this activity, as suggested by the Girl Scouts, my daughter would be so disappointed. We would get in the car, and she would ask, “Mama, why couldn’t we play with bugs today?”
And not everyone is a fan of bugs, I get it. I certainly am not. At all. I squeal like a little pig when I see a bug.
But to only give our daughter’s 10-minutes, OUT OF A PROPOSED 3 HOURS, to actually observe, touch, and investigate a bug is outrageous.
Why are we not suggesting that the troops bring in an entomologist – a female entomologist – to talk with the girls about how cool bugs are? Or bringing in a bug entertainer who comes with all of those creepy crawlies to let the girls hold spiders, caterpillars, and rollie pollies?
Or take a field trip to visit a beekeeper and learn about bees and how they can help to protect and grow bee populations? Or to a butterfly garden where the girls can meet with the lepidopterologist (it’s real word, I promise) who can teach the girls more about the life cycle of caterpillars and butterflies?
The possibilities are endless and nowhere in this documentation is there any mention of these options.
Basically, the girls can earn their Bug Badge by pretending to be and singing about bugs.
And I call bullsh*t.
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