The Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE)

from Volunteer Essentials, “The Girl Scout Leadership Experience”

At Girl Scouts, everything centers around the girl. It’s what makes Girl Scouts truly unique –  our program is designed by, with, and for girls.

Three Keys to Leadership

What girls do in Girl Scouting fits within the three keys: discover, connect and take action.


When girls do exciting badge activities, earn a Girl Scout Journey award, attend an amazing event, or go camping, you are helping them discover who they are, what they care about, and what their talents are.


Girls connect when they collaborate with other people, learn from others, and expand their horizons. This helps them care about, inspire, and team with others locally and globally.

Take Action

With your guidance, these budding leaders will connect with and care about others, and they’ll be eager to take action to make the world a better place.  

Three Girl Scout Processes

How do girls learn in Girl Scouts? The GSLE draws on three unique processes that help girls unlock the leader within.


This means girls of every age take an active and age-appropriate role in figuring out the what, where, when, why, and how of all the exciting troop activities they’ll do. The girl-led process is critically important to the GSLE—when girls know their voice matters, they feel empowered to make decisions and they stay engaged in their activities. Find examples of “girl-led” leadership.

Learning by Doing

Girls enjoy hands-on activities and learn by doing. Then, after reflecting on their activities, girls gain a deeper understanding of the concepts and skills the activities require.

Cooperative Learning

Through cooperative learning, girls learn to share knowledge and skills in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation as they work toward a common goal.

Notes for Volunteers About the Three Processes

As a volunteer, you’ll draw on these three Girl Scout processes as you lead girls of any age. Girl-led at the Daisy level will look very different from the Ambassador level, of course. What’s most important is that girls make decisions about the activities they do together and make choices within that activity. As they learn from their successes and failures—and gain a major confidence boost in the process—their girl-led process will give them the opportunity to lead within their peer group. By the time girls are Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors, they’ll be able to use the leadership skills they’ve developed to mentor and assist younger Girl Scouts.

Remember, girls’ time in Girl Scouting isn’t a to-do list, so please don’t ever feel that checking activities off a list is more important than tuning in to what interests the girls and sparks their imaginations. Projects don’t have to come out perfectly—in fact, it’s a valuable learning experience when they don’t—and girls don’t have to fill their vests and sashes with badges. What matters most is the fun and learning that happens as girls make experiences their own, so don’t be afraid to step back and let your girls take the lead.

The Five Outcomes

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) is what girls do and how they do it. When girls participate in the GSLE, they experience five measurable leadership benefits or outcomes that will fuel their success. And although girls may start building their leadership skills in school and on sports teams, research shows that the courage, confidence, and character they develop as Girl Scouts stay with them throughout their lives.

Being a Girl Scout helps girls thrive in five key ways. As a leader, encourage the girls in these areas and praise them when they demonstrate these behaviors.

Strong Sense of Self

Girls have confidence in themselves and their abilities and form positive identities.

Positive Values

Girls act ethically, honestly, and responsibly, and show concern for others.

Challenge Seeking

Girls take appropriate risks, try things even if they might fail, and learn from mistakes.

Healthy Relationships

Girls develop and maintain healthy relationships by communicating their feelings directly and resolving conflicts constructively.

Community Problem Solving

Girls desire to contribute to the world in purposeful and meaningful ways, learn how to identify problems in the community, and create action plans to solve them.