Scouting Photography

Girl Scout troops and their leaders rely on the official handbook as their guide. The frequently updated contents contain detailed instructions on how to earn merit badges.

In 1917, for the first time, the Girls Scouts offered a photography badge. To get one, a girl had to complete a difficult set of requirements:

1. Know use of lens, construction of camera, effect of light on sensitive films and the action of developers.
2 Be able to show knowledge of several printing processes.
3. Produce 12 photos of scout activities, half indoors and half outdoors, taken, developed and printed by herself, also 3 pictures of either birds, animals, or fish in their natural haunts, 3 portraits and 3 landscapes.

The requirements in later years became even more rigorous and included training in labeling and storage techniques and aesthetics. For example in 1927, a girl had to "Show what is meant by 'composition' in the arrangement of a good picture."

Official 1934 Girl Scout badge book.
Girl Scouts with their box cameras at camp
In 1963, the name of the photography badge changed to "My Camera" and the requirements were simplified. By 1980, photography was only one part of a larger Communication Arts badge. Today photography again has its own badge but Girl Scouts no longer need to learn how to process photos. The requirement now reads, "Visit a film developing lab to see how film is developed and how enlargements are made. Share this information with your group."

In the new millennium, digital photography will require a new set of technical skills. I am sure that the Girl Scouts will be equal to the task.
Girl Scout cameras from the collection of Eaton Lothrop.
Congratulations to both Kodak and the Girl Scouts of the United States of America for encouraging girls to take photography seriously. Thanks also to them for assisting with my research and permitting me to photograph and exhibit their copyrighted materials on these webpages.