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How Girl Scouts Works

As a national organization, Girl Scouts is 2.5 million strong—1.7 million girls and 750,000 adults who believe in the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ to change the world. In this article for all volunteers, you will learn about the basics of Girl Scouts, resources, responsibilities, and expectations.

Our Story

Our extraordinary journey began more than 100 years ago with the original G.I.R.L., Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low. On March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia, she organized the very first Girl Scout troop and every year since we’ve honored her vision and legacy, building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.

We’re the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. And with programs from coast to coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success.

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

W.A.G.G.S. or the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is a 146-member international organization whose mission is “to inspire girls and young women to reach their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world. Girl Scouts of the USA is a member. Girl Scouting is a world-wide movement!

Girl Scouts of the USA

Across the United States, girls are members of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), our national organization. GSUSA develops our badges, awards, and curriculum, giving girls a standard experience across our country.

Girl Scouts of Northern California

Girl Scouts of Northern California is one of 111 Girl Scout councils across the United States. In partnership with 20,000 committed volunteers, GSNorCal serves more than 40,000 girls through a 19-county council that spans Gilroy to the Oregon border.

Service Units

Our council is divided into 81 service units. Service units are led by experienced, dedicated volunteers who support and serve girls, troops, and volunteers in their area and lead local recruitment efforts.

Many also host local events like day camps, cookie rallies, World Thinking Day celebrations, award ceremonies, and service projects. Service units may also have web pages, local events, and monthly leader meetings available to you.

To find out which service unit covers your area, use our Service Unit Directory (PDF)!


Troops are the most common way girls participate in Girl Scouts. Troops are led by volunteers (often parents, friends, or family members). The average troop size is 8-10 girls, but we’ve got troops of 20 and more! Troops allow girls to work as a team and build lasting friendships. Girls work with their troops on skill building, leadership, and service projects while having fun with their friends.

Girl & Adult Members and Volunteers

Members are both girls and adults like you, who are joined together in the pursuit of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scout memberships run on an annual basis from October 1-September 30 and must be renewed each year. Lifetime memberships are also available.