What we now call Presidents’ (or President’s) Day was originally created to honor George Washington, and was celebrated on his birthday, February 22. As a result of a 1968 law mandating that a number of federal holidays occur on Mondays, we now celebrate Washington’s Birthday on the third Monday of February. Since that places the Washington's Birthday observance between his actual birthday and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (February 12), states began to recognize the holiday as “Presidents’ Day.” But the official Federal Holiday is still Washington’s Birthday!
Girl Scouts might choose to celebrate “Presidents’ Day” - or Washington’s Birthday - as an expression of their Promise to serve their country. The celebration could be as simple as a real or virtual Flag Ceremony, or a Girl Scouts’ Own Ceremony, perhaps with George Washington's life as the theme. OR girls could dig a little deeper by earning the Democracy badge for their Girl Scout level, expanding the activities by exploring and talking about why a woman hasn’t been elected as a President of the USA - yet - and what they would do if they were President.
NOTE: In America, it's common to say "Anyone can grow up to be president." However, our US Constitution says, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President…” Be sensitive to the fact not all of our Girl Scouts are natural born citizens; if a girl's family is living here temporarily and are not citizens, or if she was born in another country and her parents were not American citizens at the time, she cannot be President of the United States. This doesn't mean you can't talk about girls and women having the skills and abilities to do the job of a president of the United States, even if they are not eligible or interested in being elected!
Democracy for Daisies Badge: STEP 3 - Find Out About Our National Government. Girls can do either or both choices!
Daisies can do Choice 1 as an in-person or virtual meeting, or as a Girl Scouts at Home activity using this video:
In this activity, girls will start to learn about the president and create a model or drawing of the house that the president and his family live in. Ask Daisies: can a woman be President of the United States? Would you like to be President? What would you do for our country if you were President? Draw a picture of a grown-up you and your family living in the White House.
Democracy for Brownies Badge: STEP 4 - Find out about our country’s executive branch.
Choice 2: Interview an older family member. Find out which president has meant the most to them in their lifetime and why...
If your Brownies are interested, encourage them to also ask their family members (and others, if they like) if they would vote for a woman to be President of the USA. Why? Or why not? In your Brownie Circle, ask girls if they think a woman could be President. (Remind them that a woman is currently Vice President!) Would any of them like to be President one day? Why? Are they learning and doing things as Girl Scout Brownies that might help them be a good President someday?
Democracy for Juniors Badge: STEP 4: Find out about our country’s executive branch.
Choice 1: Compare presidents and prime ministers. Find a country led by a prime minister—such as the United Kingdom—and compare that role with our US President’s. Girls could also find countries whose president or prime minister is - or has been - a woman. Was she a Girl Scout or Girl Guide? Do they think that when the first woman President of the USA is elected, it will be someone who was (or is) a Girl Scout? Are they learning and doing things as a Girl Scout Junior that could help them be a good president?
Juniors can do Choice 2 as a Girl Scouts at Home virtual badge activity: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/girl-scouts-at-home/activities-for-girls/juniors/junior-democracy-badge-activity.html “You’re going to discover some new things about America’s presidents while you create a presidential trivia challenge.”
Democracy for Cadettes Badge: STEP 4 - Find out about the federal executive branch
This is a great time in history to complete Choice 2: Explore vice presidents. Spend some time researching the role of the vice president throughout history. What does the vice president do? What are the times in United States history when the vice president has had to step up to fill the role of the presidency? Share your findings with family or friends - and talk about our current Vice President! Do you think she will be President of the US some day? Do you think the leadership skills that Girl Scouts learn and use would help you - or another Girl Scout - be a good president?
Democracy for Seniors: STEP 4 - Find out about the federal executive branch.
Choice 1 - Rethink an election. Choose an historical presidential election and find out everything you can about it. Now, imagine you are the campaign manager for the losing candidate. What could you have done differently to bring your candidate to victory? Share your campaign strategy with friends or family.
Talk about: Why do you think voters in America have not elected a woman as President of the United States? What do you think it will take for a woman to be elected? You could either rethink any past presidential election where a woman was a candidate, or think of a woman you think would make a great President and how you would manage her campaign to make her the first female President of the USA. Many of the women elected to the US House or Senate were Girl Scouts; do you think being a Girl Scout would give a potential presidential candidate an edge? What if she had earned the Girl Scout Gold Award?
Democracy for Ambassadors Badge: STEP 4 - Find out about the federal executive branch.
YOU have our one-time only, President’s Day special, written permission to modify the Choices to complete Step 4 of this badge! We’re asking you to think about WHY a woman has never been elected President of the USA and WHAT it will take for that to happen. You may modify the Choices in any of these ways:
• Encourage voting. Research potential options for increasing voter support of a female Presidential candidate. Do you feel that being a former Girl Scouts - especially one who earned the Gold Award) would be a plus or a minus for a presidential candidate?
• Explore parties. Candidates for president in the United States may be Democrats, Republicans, or members of a third party. Research their ideologies, including one or two third parties, to find out which party would be most likely to support a female candidate for President. Do you think the values of Girl Scouting (the Promise, Law, Motto and Slogan) would make a woman candidate more acceptable to one party above another?
• Look into lobbying. Research the role of lobbyists in the most recent presidential election. What kind of influence do you think they had - and how do you feel about it? Does Girl Scouts of the USA have lobbyists? Advocates? Would you become, or use, lobbyists to help elect a female President?