Monday, January 11, 2021

Earning the Girl Guides of South Africa Tourism Badge

Yes, you can wear a Girl Guide badge as a Girl Scout. But no, you cannot wear that badge on the front of your Girl Scout uniform. Even though both you and the Girl Guides of South Africa are members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS, lol), you are not a member of the Girl Guides of South Africa.

Fortunately, Girl Scout uniforms have just the place for a "non-official" patch: the back! And that's how Will's brand-new Tourism badge from the Girl Guides of South Africa is now happily ensconced between her voting fun patch and the patch she earned for donating some of her fall product prizes to the sloths at the Indianapolis Zoo, instead, and on top of that Wildflowers of Ohio patch that we had so much fun earning back before the world went nuts.

I miss road trips!

I own a few Girl Guides of South Africa badges, but this is the first one that Will has worked through. I really love the different perspectives that another country's Girl Guide badges offer: the South Africa paddling badge is SO hard-core that I don't know how on earth I'm going to help Will earn it, and their baking badge, which the kids worked on this summer, required them to memorize enough terms to discernibly improve their cookbook literacy. 

The Tourism badge is one of the most interesting. It makes sense, because I'm sure that a LOT of tourists to South Africa take guided tours in some capacity during their visit, and when we were in Greece, our tour guide there, Militsa, told us just some of the strenuous education and certification required to be a Greek tour guide. It's an impressive career option if you live in a place with a thriving tourism industry, and it's just so interesting to me that it's a career that doesn't really exist in the same capacity, or nearly the same frequency, in the US. 

I rewrote the Tourism badge requirements a bit, but I couldn't decide if I wanted to treat the badge as a study of the way that international travelers view the United States, or as a useful primer on planning international travel of one's own... so I sort of did both. Here's my take on the badge:


  1. Browse through 2-3 US guide books marketed to visitors from outside the US (hint: search Overdrive for USA guide books!).

  2. Make a list of qualities/characteristics/areas of expertise that a visitor from outside the US should look for in a tour guide.

  3. Read and be prepared to discuss the following article:

  4. Research at least three tour companies and the group or guided tours that they offer. For each company, choose one tour that YOU would like to go on.
  5. Create a chart that compares/contrasts the following information about each tour/tour company:

    1. Cost of tour vs. value of tour (YOU determine what makes the tour a good value!)

    2. Type of tour/quality of tour (eco tour, luxury tour, adventure tour, etc. Give each tour a category that you create!)

    3. Tour amenities, evaluated on a scale that YOU determine based on what is important to YOU

    4. sites/activities/adventures on each tour

    5. Additional costs--is travel insurance included? Airfare? All meals or just some? Extra visas required?

  6. You are a tour guide and have a visitor from overseas. Plan a 2-day trip around your state showing off its natural beauty, history, and culture.

    • This trip should include several highlights and places to visit, including iconic sites, engaging activities, and interesting places to eat.
    1. Sites to see and what they cost (eg. entrance fees)

    2. Transportation and cost (are you driving and will need gas? Taking a bus or train? Uber?)

    3. Restaurants and copies of their menus, if possible

    4. Photos of places being visited, with appropriate attribution

    5. Accommodations, their amenities, and costs

    6. Itinerary/timetable for the trip, including accurate transportation times

  1. Research a 10-day African tour for our Girl Scout troop.

    • Include travel dates, costs, accommodation, modes of transport, destinations, etc.
    • Write a complete and detailed itinerary, including the same information from Step 2.
  1. Research the different types of passports and their costs.

    • What information is required to apply for a passport?
    • What countries might one travel to that have additional requirements?
    • Find your own passport and examine it. When do you need to renew it?
For the comparison of tour companies, I was interested to see that Will chose to compare Greece tours. Very sensible, as the only time that we've taken a guided group tour was our trip to Greece! Here's some of her work:

  1. Odysseys Unlimited Ancient Greece
    • $385.15 per night. Meals included. 12 nights in fancy accommodations. Small group size. Many interesting sites. Good value.
    • Athens monuments and museums, Delphi, ancient Corinth, Mycenae, Nafplion, Hydra, Heraklion, palace of Knossos, olive farm, Santorini town and sites.
  2. Cosmos Greece and Aegean Islands Cruise
    • $166.67 per night. Meals included. 14 nights in fancy accommodations. Unknown group size. Many standard sites. Good value. 
    • Athens, Mycenae, Citadel of Mystra, Olympia, Delphi, Meteora, Aegean cruise, Ephesus, Patmos monastery, Rhodes, Heraklion.
  3. Expat Explore Best of Greece
    1. $163.75 per night. Meals included. 12 nights in acceptable accommodation. Large group size. Many standard sites. Neutral value.
    2. Athens, traditional art workshop, Kalambaka, Delphi, Trizonia, Olympia, Mycenae, Nafplion, Mykonos, Santorini.
This turned out to be a useful project, because price vs. value is entirely dependent on your own priorities. Do you prefer to make your own way through a country, figuring things out on your own, or do you prefer having your itinerary and the details of travel arranged for you? What budget do you need to set, and what would you rather give up to meet that budget? What do you absolutely have to see, and what do you not give a flip about seeing?

Even though I always feel like I include the kids in my travel planning, I definitely make all of those price vs. value decisions for us, and I probably never even told them that we were deliberately staying in lousy hotels and eating packed groceries to save our budget for sightseeing, and we were wearing all our clothes and carrying just backpacks onto planes because the hundred bucks that we don't spend on checked luggage is the hundred bucks that we CAN spend on experiences. So it was interesting to see what Will prioritized--she seems to care more about hotels and meals than I do, but I was glad to note that what you get to see and do, and not just how comfy you are while you see and do them, is also important to her.

After that practice researching and evaluating other group tours, it was time to ask Will to create her own. Here's half of Will's 10-day African tour for a Girl Scout troop. We're going to explore Namibia!

Day 1:

10:00  Fly into Windhoek

           Rent a car

           Drive 30 minutes

11:00  Check into

11:30  Visit National Museum of Namibia

           Eat at rooftop restaurant

           Drive 20 minutes

7:00  Have dinner at Xwama

         Drive back

Day 2:

9:00  Go to Lemon Tree for breakfast

         Drive 30 minutes

10:30 Go to Namibia Craft Center

           Drive 20 minutes

1:00  Horseback tour with Equitrails Namibia

         Drive 15 minutes

7:30  Dinner at Joes Beerhouse

Day 3: 

9:00  Check out

         Breakfast at Royal Kitchen and Take Away

         Drive 3 hours

1:00  Visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund

         Drive 40 minutes

7:30  Eat dinner at Crocodile Ranch

9:30  Check in to Out of Africa

Day 4:

9:30  Go to Bean Tree Cafe for breakfast

         Drive 2 hours

11:30  Erindi Private Game Reserve

2:30  Lunch at Camp Elephant

4:30  Erindi guided safari

7:00  Dinner at Camp Elephant

Day 5: 

9:00 Packed breakfast

11:30Drive back to Windhoek

Packed lunch

7:00 Take flight to next destination

I love that we're going to spend half the time glamping, and that we get to go horseback riding. It's a very whirlwind visit to Namibia, but I think it would work well combined with visits to at least one or two other countries in Africa--I mean, you're going to spend all that time just getting to Africa; might as well stay for a while!

This ended up being an interesting and unique badge to earn, with some practical, real-world activities that Will hadn't ever tried out before. You could argue that this Tourism badge, or at least the way that I rewrote it, is similar to the Senior Traveler badge, but I'd argue that while the purpose of the Senior Traveler badge is to plan an actual trip for the Senior Girl Scout to actually go on, this badge was a way for Will to dream big and research trips anywhere in the world, and in particular places that we definitely aren't going to anytime soon.

Although, to be fair, at this point in the pandemic we aren't even in the position to take that two-day tour of Indiana that Will planned for Step 4... One day, when we're all four vaccinated and safe to travel, may I never again take for granted our ability to actually go on the trips that we plan!

Here are some of the resources that we used for this badge:

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