The first Girl Scout troops reportedly did not have troop numbers, they had an troop crests to identify themselves. Today, troop crests are used a symbol of a troop's goals or main interests. Once a troop chooses a crest that has special meaning to them, it is used for the life of that troop.
This is a good way to bring scouts together in a troop around a common goal, particularly if the troop is multi-level, or made up of girls from different schools, churches, etc.
While Girl Scouts of the USA does not officially attach a meaning to the crests, below are some of the meanings that have been attached to them over the years.
The crests have been updated in recent years, so some of the older crests may no long be available for purchase.
One suggestion when choosing a crest: rather than having the girls focus on the cute pictures, present them with a list of meanings to choose from. Then you can surprise them with the associated picture. For troops from multiple schools, I would also suggest that any crests that are associated with the schools' mascots not be selected, so that all of the girls feel included.
ArrowEditArrows stand for action and moving forward, so this symbol shows you hope to do a lot to change the world.
BeesEditBees symbolize hard work and industry. This symbol could show that you want to work hard and inspire others.
BluebirdEditBluebirds stand for happiness and good fortune. Choosing a bluebird crest says you want to spread good cheer wherever you go.
CardinalEditCardinals are known for their Good Cheer with their joyful song and bright color.
CarnationEditThe Carnation was one of the first two troop crests. It stands for Health and Energy – the right symbol for friends who have tons of energy to make the world a better place!
Clover LeafEditClover leafs are traditional symbols of Good Luck – and the shape of the Girl Scout Trefoil.
CraneEditThe Crane stands for Strength and Gracefulness in China and for Honor and Loyalty in Japan. Choosing a crane shows you want to live with strength and grace, always remaining true to your friends and values.
DaffodilEditDaffodils are spring flowers, a symbol of a Sunny Personality.
DogwoodEditThe spring flowering Dogwood tree is a symbol of new life, rebirth.
EagleEditThe eagle's excellent sight helps it see important details. With this crest, show that you want to bring focus and hard work to whatever you do.
Forget-Me-NotEditThe Forget-Me-Not blue flower has long been a symbol of friendship and loyalty.
Hawaiian LeiEditThe Hawaiian lei is a symbol of friendship, love, and peace. Choose to share your wish to spread peace and goodwill in the world.
LightningEditA bolt of lightning, the power of nature, stands for inspiration and creative power. This symbol might be chosen by a group who seeks inspiration in their own lives and hopes to inspire others.
Lily of the ValleyEditThe Lily of the Valley is a symbol of purity, in folklore, it is known as Fairy Bells.
Morning GloryEditThe Morning Glory flower is symbol of awaking of new day.
Musical NotesEditMusical Notes are clearly related to a love of music and song. Appropriate for a troop that likes to sing everywhere they go!
Nautilus ShellEditThe nautilus grows into larger chambers through its life. And there's a secret inside the shell – it's lined with mother-of-pearl. This symbol could show that you want to keep growing and changing – on the inside and the outside.
PansyEditPurple Pansies, also known as "hearts-ease," stand for loving thoughts and special friendships. This symbol could show the bonds you have with all your Girl Scout sisters.
Pine TreeEditThe Pine Tree crest is a symbol for boldness, loyalty and stability.
Red RoseEditThe Red Rose is an "All American" flower, a symbol of beauty and love.
SailboatEditThe Sailboat symbolizes freedom on the wind of an adventurous journey.
SeashellEditThe Seashell is a promise of discovery – a gift from the sea.
StarEditShooting stars are rare, unexpected, and beautiful symbols of good luck that makes wishes come true! Choosing this symbol shows that you are like a shooting star – a team that lights up the world. This crest can be shown as either a Shooting Star or a Falling Star depending on how it is oriented on the uniform.
Star of BethlehemEditThis older crest shows the Star of Bethlehem – a guide or beacon that shows the way, a goal.
SunEditThe sun represents warmth and life, and it helps plants and trees grow strong. Choose this crest to show that you want to spread good cheer, too, and help yourselves and others grow.
TrumpetEditWhen a trumpet sounds, it announces that you're ready to march into action. You might choose this symbol to remind yourselves of your courage to take action to make the world better.
UnicornEditUnicorns are mythical creatures that are beautiful and courageous. With this symbol, show you have the courage to spread beauty with words and actions.
VioletEditThe Purple Violet is a symbolic of a clean environment and a clean earth.
WaterfallEditA waterfall is always in motion – but it always looks the same! Choosing the waterfall shows you want to stay true to what you believe even though the world is always changing. It stands for Loyalty and Challenge.
White RoseEditThe white rose is a symbol of faith and loyalty in the quest for truth. It stands for new beginnings – maybe that's why it was one of the first two troop crests. It's a wonderful symbol for girls who are starting out on an adventure.