For instance, the money earned from the annual cookie drive, which began this month, goes to the same place it always did: local girls will use the money to explore nature or benefit their community.
Last year, Girl Scouts in Secaucus sold 5,851 boxes of cookies, and troop proceeds topped $3,500.
"Troops can use their cookie sale money for a trip, or they can choose to set aside a money to help a group or institution in the community," said Jan Lilien, CEO of the Girl Scouts Council of Greater Essex and Hudson Counties, last week.
Scouts - and their parents - are currently taking preorders for cookies, and boxes will arrive in late February or early March.
This year, there are two new cookie flavors: lemon chalet crème and a sugar-free chocolate chip.
But the favorite in Secaucus remains Thin Mints, according to sales figures.
While girls can still go to neighbors' houses to sell cookies, there is also an increase in parents taking orders in the workplace.
Brownie hopes to go camping
Secaucus resident and 8-year-old Brownie Margaret O'Leary is hoping her troop will have enough money to go camping, one of her favorite Girl Scout activities.
"I like the camping. Last year when we went camping, we had to find a bug, and then we would look at the bug under a [magnifying] glass," O'Leary said last week, oblivious to the fact that most people might be a little squeamish about examining a twitching creature up close.
Margaret is a second-generation Girl Scout. Her mom, Jamie O'Leary, was a Girl Scout in Secaucus when she was a child, and knew she would one day put her own child in scouting because of the valuable skills the program teaches.
"The program made me part of who I am," Jamie O'Leary said. "I wanted my own daughter to get what I feel I got from the program."
Nationally, Girl Scout membership has been declining. Today, the Scouts must compete with basketball, softball, soccer, and a host of other sports and activities for time in kids' schedules.
The Girl Scout national leadership is trying to restructure the organization to make it more flexible.
"There has been a lot of dramatic change in the past several years," said Lilien. "The whole Girl Scout program had been revamped to meet girls' needs in a different way. It's not like when I was a Girl Scout."
The organization is developing what it calls "alternate pathways" to scouting. The alternate pathways are short-term programs that allow girls to participate in the Girl Scouts on a limited basis. They are designed for girls who may have commitments that prevent them from scouting year-round.
"There are girls who can't participate in a troop that meets all year, because maybe they play soccer in the fall." Lilien said. "Maybe they'd like to be in Girl Scouts, but they're too busy during the soccer season."
The Girl Scouts Council of Greater Essex and Hudson Counties, which has jurisdiction over 9,000 members, offers a summer tennis camp as part of its alternate pathways program. Lilien said the main tenets and values of the institution remain consistent.
"Our mission is building girls' courage, confidence, and character, Lilien explained. "That's the key element of the Girl Scouts program. So, whether girls are participating in a troop, or whether they're learning tennis or basketball, or participating in one of our science workshops, they're still learning those key elements because everything that we do is structured around them."
Not your mother's Girl Scouts
When the Baby Boom generation, joined Girl Scouts the program emphasized "cooking and crafts," which are still included in scouting today. However, this Betty Crocker-eque image is somewhat of a contrast to the Girl Scouts of the 21st Century.
The organization offers math and science programs to their members to improve girls' overall performance in these subjects in school, and the group provides workshops in these areas to possibly get more young women interested in careers in the hard sciences.
Interestingly, the Girl Scouts use the cookie drive as a financial literacy lesson, particularly for the younger girls.
"We talk them through their cookie sales," said Helen Allen, Margaret's Brownie troop leader. "We talk to them about the price of a box and if someone wants to buy two boxes how much would that be. If someone pays in cash and they don't have exact change, how much money does the girl have to give back to the customer? We go over things like that. And that kind of math is an important learning tool for the Brownies."
Daisies and Brownies
There are three troops based in Secaucus.
The Girls Scouts divides its members into four groups based on their grade level: Daisies are kindergarten; Brownies are in grades one, two, and three; Juniors go from grades four through six; and the awkwardly named "Older Girls" go up to grade 12.
After young women turn 18, they "graduate" from the program and can then enter troop leadership.
Allen said her troop has another financial education program, Penny Power, that is taught alongside the cookie sale drive.
The organization has also shown a willingness to venture into grittier turf. There are programs that address resistance to gangs, how to deal with bullies, and how to surf the web safely. And the "Uniquely Me" program gives girls the tools and confidence they need to ward off peer pressure and demeaning images of women in the media.
"We're really doing a lot right now to strengthen the brand to promote it as a very contemporary organization," said Lilien. "Whether a girl lives in Secaucus or Newark, the underlying skills that they need to be safe and to develop as women are the same."
The more things change...
Despite the makeover, however, Jamie O'Leary said she feels, "It hasn't really changed that much since I was a Girl Scout. It taught me self-respect and how to respect other people." Those are traits she wants to make sure her daughter learns.
"It's the little things that you're taught in Girl Scouts that make the difference," she said, "and at the time, you aren't even aware that you are learning these things. But they are teaching you how to be a young woman and have dignity and respect. And you don't realize what they taught you, or appreciate these things, until you grow older."