Members of Girl Scout Troop 4687 from Pekin with Peoria Magazines' editor-in-chief Jonathan Wright
In April 2019, four members from Girl Scout Troop 4687 in Pekin toured Peoria Magazines’ offices and met with editor-in-chief Jonathan Wright to learn the ins and outs of publishing a magazine. The girls were interested in creating their own magazine, one that truly reflects their values as Girl Scouts—as well as dispelling some stereotypes.
“A lot of people think Girl Scouts is just crafts and cookie sales,” Troop leader Kristina Henneise explains. “It is so much more than that… [including] STEM and community service.” The girls wanted to show they aren’t just interested in makeup and fashion trends—the primary focus of most girls’ magazines. They pointed out that Boys’ Life magazine, which is affiliated with the Boy Scouts, includes articles on projects and activities, while the content of Girls Life—which is NOT affiliated with Girl Scouts—is mostly geared toward fashion and style.
With that in mind, the Troop members began working toward the Cadette MEdia Journey, a Scouts program in which they learn and earn badges through the process. “We watched documentaries on gender stereotypes and videos about how marketing a certain type of product to girls can reinforce stereotypes and widen the gap for girls in fields like science, math and engineering,” Henneise adds.
Creating GS Life
After their field trip to Peoria Magazines, the girls got to work creating their publication, which they called GS Life. Keira Henneise (age 12), Madison Melton (age 13), Sarah Pruitt (age 12) and Anne Stuber (age 12) all contributed articles, photos and drawings to create a diverse mix of content—20 pages in all! The girls commented on the amount of work involved, from concepts to research to photography to writing. “Putting together a magazine takes a lot of people with different skills,” Sarah says. “You have to have a lot of connections and know people.”
“It takes a lot of research and dedication,” Madison adds. Keira was able to improve her 3D-Paint skills, making image backgrounds transparent and creating her own clip art. Their biggest challenge, the girls agreed, was making all of the decisions. “What color should this be? What picture should we use? What should we call it? What font should we use? What should this article name be?” says Anne. “So many decisions!”
The Final Product
The finished magazine, printed by Allegra in Pekin, was shared on their Facebook page for the Scouts and their families to enjoy. The girls also sent letters about their project to the CEOs of Girl Scouts Central Illinois and Girl Scouts of the USA, and hope they will consider publishing a magazine like this regularly.
“Our goal with this magazine is that people will see girls in a different light,” Anne explains. “Being smart and strong—not makeup-obsessed princesses.”