"I believe that character development needs to be based on timeless truths, not on cultural norms," said Patti Garibay, national executive director of the American Heritage Girls. "I believe the standards of behavior for humans are clearly defined by their maker through the words of the Bible. I also believe that because each of us is made in the image of God, we have an incredible ability to achieve, to be creative and to change the world, because of his grace."
When Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts, Garibay reflects, she "encouraged girls to be faith-filled and outward focused ... Many have felt that today's Girl Scouts have strayed from that mission." Garibay began AHG when the Girl Scouts made God optional in their pledge. AHG "is not for everyone," she acknowledges, "but it is for a lot of families seeking a faith-based, scout-type program that builds women of integrity while instilling eternally impactful values."
The American Heritage Girls, it turns out, have a lot more in common with the Boy Scouts of America than the Girl Scouts do. In 2009, the Boy Scouts of America issued a formal statement of support of the American Heritage Girls. "Like the BSA, AHG is faith-based, realizing a duty to God is of utmost importance to the full development of a child," Garibay adds.
The George Washington Bridge connecting New York and New Jersey may be green this month in honor of the 100th anniversary of the GSA, but the color may really point to the time being ripe for a second look and a consideration of alternatives.