American Heritage Girls
|American Heritage Girls|
|executive director||Patti Garibay|
The American Heritage Girls (AHG) is a Christian-based Scouting-like organization. The organization has more than 43,000 members (2017) with troops in all 50 states in early 2017, plus Americans living in twelve other countries.
All girls are eligible for membership while adult leaders must subscribe to a Christian statement of faith.
The American Heritage Girls was founded in 1995 by Patti Garibay and other parents from West Chester, Ohio to form a Christian alternative to the Girl Scouts of the USA after the Girl Scouts allowed individual Scouts and Scouters to use wording appropriate to their own beliefs for the word "God" in the promise and supposedly banned prayer at meetings. The organization started with 100 girls.
In June 2009, the AHG formed a partnership with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The Memorandum of Mutual Support recognizes the common values and goals of both organizations and formally established a relationship, as AHG had been working with the BSA on projects and utilized BSA camps especially with the BSA mixed-sex Venturing membership division.
In May 2013, the AHG dissolved its relationship with the BSA in reaction to the BSA's new policy on gay youth - which removed the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation. Also that month, American Heritage Girls joined the Faith Based Boys Coalition. The Faith Based Boys joined with other groups to form an alternative Boy Scout program. A leadership meeting was held in Louisville, Kentucky on June 29, 2013 to discuss forming a new boys group. The AHG cofounder Patti Garibay was invited to the Kentucky meeting as an advisor. It was revealed in September that American Heritage Girls would be partnering with Trail Life USA, the new boys' Scouting group which was modeled on AHG.
The American Heritage Girls program is divided into several levels based primarily on age. Girls participate in troop activities and work toward earning 80 badges, learn leadership skills, social and spiritual development:
- Pathfinder— 5–6 years old: The Pathfinder Level is intended to give a girl a chance to try out the AHG Program and learn more about it. A Pathfinder girl earns necklace beads for attendance, participation and Bible verse memorization while learning the four parts of the AHG Oath. She may earn the Fanny Crosby Award upon completion of this Level.
- Tenderheart— 6–9 years old: A Tenderheart earns Badges and Sports Pins in any of the six Frontiers of Skill and receives activity patches for participating in Troop activities or special events. She may earn the Sacagawea Award for achieving the highest level of skill and service at this Level. Blue Service Stars are awarded for every 5 hours of community service.
- Explorer— 9–12 years old: An Explorer earns Badges and Sports Pins in any of the six Frontiers of Skill and receives activity patches for participating in Troop activities or special events. She may earn the Lewis and Clark Award for achieving the highest level of skill and service at this Level. Red Service Stars are awarded for every 10 hours of community service. Explorers are allowed to participate in overnight camping events
- Pioneer— 12–14 years old: A Pioneer continues to earn Badges, Sports Pins, Service Stars and activity patches. She may earn the Harriet Tubman Award for achieving the highest level of skill and service at this Level. White Service Stars are awarded for every 15 hours of community service. A Pioneer is also eligible for the roles of Camp or Event Aide. The Pioneer Level is where girls really begin to show leadership skills by assisting their leaders with planning, organizing and staffing special events for AHG in the community or within their Troop.
- Patriot— 14–18 years old: Patriot is the highest Program Level in AHG. A Patriot still earns Badges, Sports Pins, Service Stars and activity patches. She may earn the Dolley Madison Award for achieving the highest level of skill and service at this Level. Yellow Service Stars are awarded for every 20 hours of community service. Patriot girls plan and carry out activities with Unit Leaders who function as “facilitators”, allowing girls to make decisions on a regular basis.
Girls can proceed through various ranks. As a Tenderheart, members can earn a PRAY award by making a pizza with crust, cheese and sauce to learn about Holy Trinity. Troops must do 3 community service projects per year. The first award girls earn after joining AHG is their joining award, which gives them the opportunity to learn about flag etiquette, AHG history, the buddy system, and uniforms.
Pathfinder's uniforms consist of a pathfinder shirt, pathfinder necklace, closed toe shoes, and navy slacks or a skirt. Tenderhearts wear white polos, closed toe shoes, a navy neckerchief, a red vest, and navy shorts or a skirt. Explorer uniforms are a white polo, closed toe shoes, a red neckerchief, a navy vest, and khaki slacks or a skirt. Pioneers wear a white polo, a navy sash, closed toe shoes, and a khaki skirt or slacks. Patriots wear the same uniform as Pioneers, except for a red polo.
The American Heritage Girl program emphasizes life skill enhancement, developing teamwork & building confidence, social development, girl leadership, character development, and spiritual development. AHG ascribes to progressive programing, where everything a girl does will be appropriate for her age and ability. As a girl moves through the program, requirements for badges and other achievements will become more challenging.
American Heritage Girls have the opportunity to earn badges from 6 frontiers:
- Heritage Frontier - includes badges such as Citizenship and Government, Native American, and Caring For My Environment
- Family Living Frontier - includes badges such as Cooking, Home Care & Repair, Stick Shifts & Safety Belts, and Money Management
- Arts Frontier - includes badges such as Cinematography, Creative Writing, Music Performance, and Theater
- Outdoor Skills Frontier - includes badges such as Archery, Canoeing, Cycling, Fishing, Golf, Horsemanship, and Snow Skiing & Snowboarding
- Personal Well-Being Frontier - includes badges such as Book Adventurer, Emergency Preparedness, Physical Fitness, Sign Language, and Travel
- Science and Technology Frontier - includes badges such as Aviation, Geology, Internet Adventure, Space Exploration, and Zoology
Pathfinders earn necklace beads for attendance, memorizing verses, and participation instead of badges.
In addition to badges, girls are encouraged to earn level awards, sports pins, service stars, and patches. In the last year a girl is in each level (3rd grade, 6th grade, 8th grade, etc.), they have the opportunity to work towards a level award. Pathfinders earn the Fanny Crosby Award, Tenderhearts earn the Sacagawea Award, Explorers earn the Lewis & Clark Award, and Pioneers earn the Harriet Tubman Award. Level awards typically include earning one badge from each frontier, earning a service star every year, attending special events, and a board of review.
Sports pins include sports such as bowling, gymnastics, martial arts, skating, tennis, and volleyball. Service stars award girls for serving in their community. Tenderhearts earn blue stars for every five hours of service, Explorers earn red service stars for every ten hours of service, Pioneers earn white service stars for every 15 hours of service, and Patriots earn yellow service stars for every 20 hours of service. AHG awards patches such as mother/daughter event, clean up day, pen pal, summer fun, fundraising top seller, respect life, food drive, and father/daughter event.
As a Patriot, they are given the chance to work toward earning the Stars and Stripes Award, the highest honor achievable in the program. It requires earning a minimum of 16 badges, earning the Dolley Madison Level Award, performing a service project with a minimum of 100 hours of service that demonstrates leadership, leadership development, writing a life ambition/spiritual walk essay, earning a religious recognition, completing a mini-resume, and asking for and receiving reference letters. Girls must be between the ages of 16 and 18 before completion and complete a board of review.
- Ross, Chelsey. "American Heritage Girls Reaches Troop Milestone" (PDF). Retrieved March 7, 2017.
- Hilty, Lindsey (June 30, 2009). "American Heritage Girls Gain Momentum". JournalNews. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
- Coghlan, Heidi. "American Heritage Girls - Christ-centered scouting for girls of all ages". Parenting: Kids' Club. About.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- American Heritage Girls 2010-2011 Ministry Report (PDF). American Heritage Girls. 2011.
- Connor, Tracy (28 July 2013). "Wiccans, earth-lovers, do-gooders: There's a 'scouting' group for your kid". NBC News. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Brown, Angela K (March 22, 2004). "Some Unhappy with Girl Scouts Form New Group". Associated Press.
- "Memorandum of Mutual Support" (PDF). Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
- "Memorandum of Mutual Support - Dissolution Statement" (PDF). American Heritage Girls. May 23, 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 12, 2013.
- Token, Jody. (May 2013) American Heritage Girls join Faith-Based Boys Coalition. American Heritage Girls. Accessed October 14, 2013.
- Wiggins, Kimberly. July 16, 2013. Orlando group creates faith-based alternative to Boy Scouts. MyFoxOrlando.com (WOFL-FOX35).
- Butts, Charlie. (June 14, 2013) Christian girls’ group founder advises new boys’ scouting group. OneNewsNow.com (American Family News Network). archived.
- Lohr, Kathy. (September 09, 2013) Trail Life USA, The 'Other' Boy Scouts Of America. National Public Radio.