In my experience (as the dad of an 8-year veteran Girl Scout who just graduated to Senior level), a lot of the dissatisfaction comes from the fact that the Girl Scout national leadership is completely out of touch with what Girl Scouting should be. Juliette Low is, I imagine, turning in her grave at the lack of outdoor activities combined with the bureaucratic nightmare Girl Scouts has become. The epitome of this is the Journey program, which is a perfect example of how to make scouting a chore. I know many of us either ignore the requirements altogether, or try our best to find the fun factor in what they've given us.
I'm lucky in that my wife is our troop leader, and she is 100% focused on the fun (and she loves to camp and do outdoor activities, as do all of the girls in our troop). Sadly though, the demands of the organization even make that difficult, with lackluster facilities and the fact that what the organization now calls "camping" is anything but, with kids being encouraged to sleep in cabins in many "camping" trips.
At the grass roots level, we can make a big difference, but if the level of disconnect between the top levels of the organization and the troops continues, I fear Girl Scouts will see even greater decline in the next few years. One good thing is that GSUSA is a lot more inclusive than some other scouting organizations (what sort of kids organization in the 21st Century excludes kids simply because they don't believe in a god?), but I really feel that GSUSA needs to get away from bureaucracy and making the girls jump through ridiculous hoops to get a simple cooking badge. I mean, "New Cuisines" is THE cooking badge for Cadettes, and it requires:
1a. Cook something from an area of the world you're curious about. Okay, sounds good so far. My daughter could make pasta, or an Indian curry.
1b. Find a relative, friend or neighbor who is an immigrant... Surely it's a cooking badge, not a cultural diversity badge. Let's keep it real!
2a. Put together a meal based on a food related news story. Why does it need to even get this complicated?
2b. Or research and cook a regional specialty that's become a cultural phenomenon.
2c. Visit the local history center or library, or ask an elderly community member, for a recipe...
And it goes on like this. That's just two of the 5 steps, all of which have three ridiculous options, including cooking a meal based in history, cooking a meal that "makes a statement" (whatever that means) and hosting a party that includes up to 4 meals. Some restaurants don't do as much research over their entire menu as Girl Scouts are required to go to to get a simple cooking badge. Why not simply make the requirement that she makes three different dishes? It's cooking - it shouldn't be rocket science or the equivalent of mounting an expedition to Everest.
I think we need to get back to the scouting basics of adventure, learning and FUN - and we need to keep it simple.