World Thinking Day 101

Help for World Thinking Day - Getting Started for New Girl Scout Leaders

Your first World Thinking Day celebration can seem a bit overwhelming. What is required? What does my troop need to do? And where do all these patches come from — and go?

Today I’ll break down many of the common questions about Thinking Day I see from new Girl Scout leaders on social media.

What is World Thinking Day?

World Thinking Day has been a Girl Scout tradition nearly as long as Girl Guiding and Girl Scouts have existed.

In 1926, Girl Guide and Girl Scout delegates at the 4th World Conference decided there should be a special day “when Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world think of each other and express their thanks and appreciation for our international Movement.” “Thinking Day” would be held on Feb. 22, the birthday of both Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout Movement, and his wife, Olave Baden-Powell, who was World Chief Guide.

I love this quote from Olave Baden-Powell:

Though you cannot visit sister Guides in France or Finland, in Austria or Australia, in Italy or Iceland, Canada or Chile, Ghana or Guatemala, USA, or U.A.R., you can reach out to them there in your MIND. And in this unseen, spiritual way you can give them your uplifting sympathy and friendship. Thus do we Guides, of all kinds and of all ages and of all nations, go with the highest and the best towards the spreading of true peace and goodwill on earth.

Window on my heart (1983), Lady Baden-Powell and Mary Drewery, p. 182

What Does My Troop Need to Do for World Thinking Day?

Here’s the truth about World Thinking Day: You can celebrate it, or not. You can mark it on Feb. 22, or you can celebrate it on another date. (Our service unit waits until after cookie season!)

There are many ways you can celebrate World Thinking Day. If you go to the roots of what Thinking Day was about, it was learning and thinking about Girl Scouts and Girl Guides all around the world.

Our troop has celebrated Thinking Day in a number of ways. We have done World Thinking Day by connecting with scouts overseas online. We have attended other cultural celebrations in our community. And we have done the “traditional” World Thinking Day route by learning about other countries.

Many Girl Scout service units celebrate World Thinking Day by having a celebration of cultures and scouting around the world. Typically this Thinking Day event includes troops hosting a booth featuring a country, with a display, food samples from that country, SWAPs, information on scouting in that country, and a short presentation by your girls (think 3 minutes).

Thinking Day cultural celebrations can be thought of as a glorified social studies project, if you think about it. Expect to invest at least 3 meetings to focus on your country of choice before the event. It’s a great way for the girls to learn about Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in other nations. If you need ideas for your troop, click on World Thinking Day at the top of the page, and it will guide you to resources that I’ve collected on various countries and celebrating Thinking Day.

How Do I Find Out if a Country Has Girl Guides or Girl Scouts?

Visit for a list of nations that have Girl Guides or Girl Scouts. Additionally, Girl Scouts USA has overseas chapters that may be worth looking into!

If you need help finding information on a country, check out the World Thinking Day toolkits I’ve put together. I have compiled resources, books, recipes and activities to help you get started on many countries that have Girl Scouts and Girl Guides!

Does Going to a Cultural Celebration Mean My Troop Has Earned the Thinking Day Patch? And Where Does the Badge Go?

This is where the guidance gets murky, and I hope someday Girl Scouts USA clarifies this.

Understanding World Thinking Day Awards: Tips for Girl Scout leaders

It has been said that if your Girl Scout completes the requirements for that year’s Girl Scout USA World Thinking Day Award, it can be placed on the front of the uniform. However, as in several of the years prior, the 2018 Thinking Day Award requirements don’t include elements that overlap with the concept of hosting a booth about a country.

So, if your service unit offers a Thinking Day Award patch similar to the official GSUSA award for attending a service unit Thinking Day event, you need to review the requirements to see if your troop met them, or technically, the World Thinking Day patch goes on the back of the uniform. Nice, huh?

But That’s Not the Only Thinking Day Patch Out There. I’m Confused.

Thinking Day badges - Did you know there was a separate World Thinking Day badge through the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts?

It’s true. There’s the official Girl Scouts USA Thinking Day award. And there’s another Thinking Day badge through WAGGGS (the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) that is offered to Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world. The annual challenge badge focuses on a theme. The 2018 theme is “Impact.”

I do like the WAGGGS guides because the activity packets are very inclusive in the directions, down to including an estimated amount of time for each step.

Note to leaders: The WAGGGS Thinking Day badge is purchased in batches of 10 through the WAGGGS shop in England. So plan accordingly for orders.

From what I understand, WAGGGS badges go on the back of the vest.

And just to make matters trickier, there are dozens of fun patches for Thinking Day on the market. These include dated fun patches, generic World Thinking Day patches and country-specific Thinking Day patches. Because they are “fun patches,” the majority don’t come with a pre-designed patch program for you to follow.

Making sense of World Thinking Day: Thinking Day tips and project ideas for Girl Scout Leaders

How is the Thinking Day Award Different from Global Action Award?

The Girl Scouts Global Action Award focuses on an annual theme, like education, that impacts women around the world. The 2018 theme is Global Goals, and requirements are posted on the Girl Scout website for Daisy/Brownie/Junior and then Cadette/Senior/Ambassador levels. The Global Action Award is often complementary to the Thinking Day Award, though a girl can earn either award, or both, in a year.

Lest you think it’s more book work to do, I wanted to share how our Girl Scout troop has earned the Global Action Award in creative ways. One year, we attended the Compassion Experience.  Last summer, after learning in our church about a mission in Rwanda that was trying to expand housing and a high school for teen girls, our Cadette troop and several other troops at our church held a bake sale, raising funds for 4,000 bricks for the project.

Like the Thinking Day Award, the Global Action Award from Girl Scouts USA can be earned each year, and there is a new design for each one. The Global Action Awards go on the front of the vest.

Need more ideas for your Girl Scout troop in 2018? Sign up for our enewsletter for more.


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