Girl Scout's highest award was created in 1916, and has gone through numerous changes over the years.
This award was a pin of an eagle with its wings spread, on a red, white, and blue ribbon.
In 1919 the name of the award was changed to the Golden Eaglet. Requirements for the award ranged through the years from earning 14 out of 17 specific badges, earning the Medal of Merit, earning a different number of badges, and the acceptance of a letter of Commendation instead of the Medal of Merit. The award it self changed from the spread-winged eagle and ribbon to an eagle with half-furled wings and a "G" and an "S" on either side of its head.
The founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, wrote in November 1923: “The five requirements for winning the Golden Eaglet are character, health, handicraft, happiness and service, and that others will expect to find in our Golden Eaglet a perfect specimen of girlhood: mentally, morally, and physically.”
In 1938 the Golden Eaglet changed to the First Class Award.
This award was earned by Intermediate Scouts who had already earned the First Class Award, and was the way to bridge to Senior rank. Because of the shortage of metal during WWII, at first the award was a curved embroidered patch worn on the uniform. In 1947, the Curved Bar pin was introduced.
In 1963 the award went back to being called First Class. Requirements for earning the First Class Award changed over the 17 years it was offered. Beginning in 1963, Cadette Scouts were required to earn four Challenges, plus at least six badges in specific areas:Social Dependability
Girl Scout Promise
In 1972, eight new Challenges were offered:Arts
The Scout was permitted to choose any four of the twelve Challenges.
In addition to the four Challenges, a Scout was required to earn at least one badge in each of six areas:Arts
Health and Safety
Alternately, from 1972 to 1980, a Scout could earn any seven of the twelve Challenges, with no badge requirements.
In 1980 the Gold Award was introduced. In 1990, National Council Session delegates approved a proposal which would keep the name of the Gold Award in perpetuity.
Until 2004, requirements for earning the award were:Earning the Girl Scout Gold Leadership Award, which requires girls to complete 30 hours of leadership work, as well as earn three Interest Projects and one Focus Book relevant to their project.
Earning the Girl Scout Gold Career Award, which requires girls to complete 40 hours of career exploration.
Earning the Girl Scout Gold 4Bs Challenge, which required girls to assess their community and its needs, and develop a vision for change. Up to 15 hours work on the 4Bs challenge could be counted toward the 65 hours for the service project.
Complete two Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador Journeys, or complete one Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador journey and have earned the Silver Award.
Plan and implement an individual "Take Action" project that reaches beyond the Girl Scout organization and provides a sustainable, lasting benefit to the girl's larger community.
Once these steps have been met, girls use their vision for change to complete a service project that reaches beyond the Girl Scout organization and provides lasting benefit to the girl's larger community. It requires a minimum of 80 hours of work in planning and actually completing the project. All of these hours must be completed by the Awardee, and though it is encouraged that the girl use troop members and others from the community to help her, their time spent does not count towards her 80-hour requirement. Plans must be developed with the aid of an advisor, then a project proposal must be submitted and approved by the girl's local council before starting the project, and a final report submitted and approved after the project's completion.
The Gold Award emblem is presented as a pin resembling an eight-pointed gold star with rays radiating from a central, polished trefoil.
Recipients of the Gold Award who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships to Gold Award recipients. Yearly, GSUSA selects ten girls to be National Young Women of Distinction based on their Gold Award projects.Betsy Boze, Senior Fellow at American Association of State Colleges and Universities and President, The College of The Bahamas and Kent State University Stark
Jan Hopkins, financial news anchor for CNN (earned the Curved Bar, a Girl Scout Gold Award predecessor)
Natalie D. Hardy, first African American Girl Scout to receive the Golden Eaglet award, as a member of Troop 24, New Haven, Connecticut, the first African American Girl Scout Troop in the country, founded by Laura Belle McCoy.
The Gold Award is often compared to the Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.