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Columbia Missourian

Girls program gives scouting makeover

January 21, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST

This isn’t the old Girl Scouts, and Mom isn’t in charge anymore.

Research led by the Girl Scouts found that 11-to-17-year-olds believe the Girl Scout program is out-of-date and tailored to younger girls.

The result of the 2002 study is Studio 2B, a new program designed for the older Girl Scout.

“It’s totally in sync with what they’ve asked for,” said Michele Landa Riggio, a national representative for Girl Scouts, the national organization that oversees all local councils. “It’s relevant; it’s creative.”

The three-year pilot program, which began in October 2002, uses Focus books, a series of eight new books based on girls’ interests.

The books form the base of the program, but all the activities and projects are decided by the Studio 2B members. Gone are the uniforms, and instead of a troop leader, they have an adviser. To show achievement, the girls earn charms instead of badges.

“We wanted to know why we were losing so many girls in that age bracket,” said Kathy Stanley, the associate executive director of the Heart of Missouri Council. “They want to sit around, have an overnight, watch a movie, and talk to someone closer to their age in a safe environment.”

The council now has a team of 10 Studio 2B girls representing the area that gives them feedback about the new program.

The pilot Studio 2B program is now run in approximately all but one or two counties the council oversees, said Melinda Hayes, membership/marketing director for the Missouri council.

Girls in the program don’t necessarily have to participate in traditional Girl Scouts, but girls can combine the two programs.

Jessica Schepker hopes to do both. The 14-year-old is a member of Troop No. 533 in Columbia and was chosen to get scouts in the area interested in Studio 2B. So far, she’s read four of the books.

“The books are interesting and teach you about what you need to know when you get older,” she said.