Girl Scouts has a rich history of empowering girls to help improve their communities. Since 1912, Girl Scout groups throughout the country have participated in community service projects addressing everything from caring for animals, baking for troops, serving senior citizens to improving the environment. Community service projects such as tending a local garden at a school or church can be completed in one day. Other endeavors, such as adopting grandparents through the Silver Lining program can span multiple visits throughout the year. Whatever the group decides to undertake, girls learn the benefit of giving back to the community.
Take Action is designed to elevate traditional Girl Scout community service from meeting an immediate need to advocacy projects that make change happen. Girls identify a cause they feel passionate about, and with advocacy and action, make a change. Girls can create a Take Action project with each leadership journey they complete. Girl Scout Bronze, Silver and Gold Award projects are all Take Action projects.
Here are seven steps to a successful Take Action project:
Map It—Investigate community needs and problem causes
Plan It—Prepare a Take Action plan
Do It—Act “with” the community
Think About It—Reflect on the project’s impact
Advocate for It—Demonstrate the importance of the issue to others
Be Proud of It—Celebrate the accomplishments
Keep It Going—Think about how the project could be sustained
Not sure how to get started on a Take Action project? Follow these simple Steps and plan a meaningful Take Action project with girls.
Step 1: Take Action Project vs. Community Service Project
Before a troop discusses which needs in their community they’d like to address with a Take Action project it is important to know the difference between a community service project and a Take Action project. While some community service projects address the immediate needs in the community, they only help for a short period of time. Take Action projects are lasting service projects that make long-term, measureable change.
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT
Addresses an immediate need
Addresses a problem by working with or for a community partner
Contribution to the community is usually, but not always, measurable
Makes community better for some people, right now
Not usually long-lasting or continuous
TAKE ACTION PROJECT
Addresses a need, immediate or not
Addresses the root cause of a problem by working with (not for) community partner(s)
Creates a lasting impact in the community
Contribution to the community is always measurable
Includes provisions to ensure sustainability long after girls’ involvement in the project has ended
A Take Action Project should be:
Measurable— The success of the project can be determined based on the number of people the project helped, the number of people who were involved, any reduction in the communities need and other concrete numbers.
Sustainable— Girls should make arrangements to ensure that the project creates lasting change and is not a one-time event. Girls can do this by collaborating with community leaders and/or organizations, and building alliances with mentors.
Community service projects are an important way for Girl Scouts to serve their community. However, Take Action projects make a lasting difference in the community and give girls even more opportunities to make their world a better place! If a troop chooses to do a Take Action project they can still participate in community service projects.
Take a look at a few examples below:
||COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT
||TAKE ACTION PROJECT
|Local food pantry needs help
||Local animal shelter needs supplies and volunteers
||An uninsured family’s home is destroyed by a fire
|Collect nonperishable food through a food drive at school
||Hold food and toy drive in community
||Collect clothes, household goods and food for the family
|Collect food and also develop a recipe book of nutritious foods using simple ingredients—find local printing company to print several copies and give original to the food pantry to make more when needed
||Create a marketing campaign—posters, radio spots, flyers etc.—encouraging community to donate supplies and time to the shelter. Hold drive. Give all marketing materials to the shelter for use in future drives
||Work with a local Habitat for Humanity and organize a work group to rebuild the family’s home
Step 2: Use Community Mapping to Help Choose the Take Action Project
A community map is a drawing or list that shows a communities needs and resources, including contacts that might help girls when working on a Take Action Project. Have girls draw a picture of their community—include resources such as the library, animal shelters, parks department, and more.
Next have the girls think about issues or problems in their community. Suggest that girls ask their parents, watch the local news, or simply take a good look around their community. These issues or problems may be small or large. Some examples may include: an old or unsafe playground at the local park, many stray cats that don’t have a home, nothing for teens to do on the weekend, bullies at school, etc. Make a list of the issues or problems the girls discovered in their community. Narrow this list to a few issues that the girls are interested in. Research the issues further and discuss the resources girls can use to help them fill the communities need.
Have girls choose their Take Action project. Important: one key to a successful Take Action project is to determine what the community needs are before creating the Take Action project. There is nothing worse than creating a project, then finding out that it was not needed.
Step 3: Plan and Go For It
Sit down with girls and determine what steps need to be taken to complete their Take Action project. Discuss who will do each step of the project. Remember, this is a girl-led project, so step back as much as possible and only help when needed. Take time to write down each step and who is in charge, keep the project plan close at hand for easy reference. Look back to your list of community resources to see who may be able to help the group during the project.
Stuck at a certain step? Take a break and come back to it another day to see the project in a new way.
Step 4: Celebrate!
Once your project is complete, take time to celebrate. Plan a party or ceremony to talk about what the girls have achieved. Think about inviting community partners or family members. Your group may also want to post a video of your project on the council’s Facebook page or email your story to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The benefits of Take Action projects go far beyond the reach of the project itself. Not only does the community see sustainable changes, girls will develop strong leadership skills that will help them throughout their lifetime. As the community sees how girls are changing the world through Girl Scouts, they will want to get involved as volunteers, and may even want to serve as project advisors on other Take Action projects.
Don’t know where to start? Need some inspiration?
Check out this list of possible organizations to partner with or that other troops have partnered with for their Take Action projects.
- Local humane societies
- Local farms
- San Antonio Zoo
- SeaWorld San Antonio
- Habitat for Humanity
- Local libraries
- Local food pantries
- Local churches
- Local veteran’s home
- Local shelters
- Helping Hands Lifeline Foundation
- Susan G. Komen
- Make a Wish Foundation
- Children’s Hospital
- Ronald McDonald House
- Jackson Nature Park
- Mitchell Lake—Audubon Society
- Texas Parks and Wildlife
- Riverside Nature Center
Contact the Resource Center at either of the following locations.
Sally Cheever Girl Scout Leadership Center
210-349-2404 ext. 382
West Side Girl Scout Leadership Center
210-319-5775 ext. 423
Be Sure to Report Your Service!
A community service report form is located on most of the council-wide community service flyers; however, many times, girls prefer to forego the council opportunities and plan their own service projects. It's very important to report ALL service completed. The Community Service Report can be used to report any service, council-wide or on-your-own. Please take the time to complete the report so your community commitment is recognized.
Find out how to transform a service project into a service-LEARNING project, see Make Your Service a Service-LEARNING Experience.
Teen Service Opportunities
Presidential Volunteer Service Award
Show off your service! There are three levels and five categories of this award varying by age and hours of service completed within a 12-month period (May 1 - April 30):
- Kids (14 and under): Bronze 50-74 hours; Silver 74-99 hours; and Gold 100+ hours
Young Adults (15-25): Bronze 100-174 hours; Silver 175-249 hours; and Gold 250+ hours
These hours must be completed within a 12-month time period (May 1 - April 30). For Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, the 12-month period for your service is from May 1-April 30. All certificates and pins will be made available. The community service can be with Girl Scouts, church, school, or any other community service projects that you are involved in. You must keep a log of all the hours you have volunteered, the person in charge needs to sign that you have completed these hours, and indicate where you have been volunteering. You may type or handwrite your hours. If you handwrite, it must be in pen and legible. Your logged hours need to be turned in not later than April 30. Volunteers make communities a brighter place to be! Please remember to put your first and last name, age, address, e-mail, phone number, service unit, troop/group number, and category you fall under with your hours.
Thank you for your service in our community!
- Presidential Volunteer Service Award Hour Log