Building Women of Integrity: The American Heritage Girls (Transcript)

Announcer: Today on Family Talk.

James Dobson: Welcome everyone to Family Talk, which is a division of the James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Dr. James Dobson and we have an interesting program for you today, especially those of you who are raising girls, you're going to enjoy this broadcast.

James Dobson: It features Dr Tim Clinton and his recent interview with Patti Garibay from American Heritage Girls. She's been my guest here several times through the years and I respect her and her organization highly.

James Dobson: As I hope you know, the Girl Scouts of America have gone off the rails and are just highly politically correct in the worst kind of way. And American Heritage Girls is a wonderful option for you in raising your girls.

James Dobson: Here now is Dr. Tim Clinton on this edition of Family Talk.

Dr. Clinton: Patti, as we get started, I know Dr. Dobson has a great affection for you and your organization, but I want to go back to, I think it was around 1995, a group of parents in the northern suburb of Cincinnati, some stirring started. They were getting a little frustrated with influence in and with our young women.

Dr. Clinton: And tell us what happened, what seeds got sewn in those early days?

Patti Garibay: Yeah, God was sure active in sewing seeds. He started to take the scales off of my eyes and some of my other co-leaders. We were serving in the Girl Scouts as Christian women. We used that program as a ministry to girls in the Cincinnati area. We were very successful at it. And matter of fact, I had served for 13 years and actually grew a lot more Girl Scout troops really in the name of God to try to influence girls in the way they should go.

Patti Garibay: And the Lord started to reveal to me, and I was a newer Christian in my walk, Tim, and I was really concerned about having a good moral barometer for my daughters, but I knew that Christ was the only way. However, my journey wasn't quite as strong as it is today. So I was pretty new to all of this.

Patti Garibay: But I had in my gut just this situation where I felt like there were things going on in the Girl Scouts that were no longer aligned with the Bible I was reading. And I knew that back in the earlier days, Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts, believed in the Bible. She read the Bible daily. She believed in God.

Patti Garibay: However, in 1993, the Girl Scouts had decided to make a change in the foundational principle of the Girl Scout Promise. They put an asterisk by the Lord name and they said they did this in the vein of tolerance and diversity and that no longer did a girl have to mandate or make an oath to God, but they could put whatever word that they believed, or no word at all, in the case of atheist girls.

Patti Garibay: And I started to say, what in the world is going on? And this seems like a Pandora's Box. And I started to uncover a lot more, and thanks honestly to Dr. Dobson and his coverage of a sexuality in youth camp that was happening to my very own backyard in Cincinnati, Ohio, did I start to learn that this is beyond the God issue, which was really grave and concerning. Now we're dealing with girls and their sexuality and teaching them of horrid beliefs around their sexuality.

Patti Garibay: And then I started to learn more and more about honestly the homosexual movement within the Girl Scouts. And I realized for me and my house, we must serve the Lord, and it was time for me to go and start something new. And that's what we did with American Heritage Girls.

Dr. Clinton: You guys started out with the just a little troop, I'll call it. You were focused on probably girls that you love, fourth and fifth graders, and God began to do some work.

Dr. Clinton: Tell our audience a little bit about the history and the flow and how this organization is starting to flourish at an incredible level.

Patti Garibay: Yes. We started to just really put our toes in the water of starting our own organization, listening to what the girls wanted, what they thought the cream of the program that they were in in the Girl Scouts were. And then the mentors, the adults, started to infuse Christ centered principles, Biblical worldview around these scouting methods.

Patti Garibay: And what happened was, it was scouting on steroids, honestly, because when you think about it, a character development program based on scripture that offers life experiences and leadership opportunities, as well as service projects and emotional healthy relationships, that is effective. It sort of takes the Sunday School notion off the shelf and puts it into everyday discipleship program. And it's all fun during all of the activities.

Patti Garibay: So, it really has transformed girls over the last two and a half decades.

Dr. Clinton: Wow. Patti, you're concerned deeply about what's happening with our girls. And the truth is, if you take a look inside their hearts and minds, there's a lot of anxiety. A lot of these kids are caught up in that cell phone addiction world. They're wrestling with identity issues and more, maybe body image things. What are you seeing? What are you seeing as you work with these young women?

Patti Garibay: Oh, boy. The stress level is unbelievable. They are full of stress. They're fatigued, they're lonely, and they're full of fear. And this is ironic because they are the most wired generation of girls ever. They're always connected, but yet they're lonelier than ever.

Patti Garibay: And so this a cyber connection that they all have, and you know, doing their photo shoots for the 'gram, so to speak, for Instagram rather than for real reasons. It's created this false narrative really of who they are and whose they are. They think it is all about the likes that they have on their Instagram or Pinterest page. It's all about, you know, what others think of them.

Patti Garibay: And so what we are trying to do is break that mold and really create a situation where the girls understand that they are uniquely woven, they are beautiful in who they are, exactly as they are, and that there's no false preconceptions that are necessary. But rather, let's dig in to what God has called you to be uniquely.

Patti Garibay: And so American Heritage Girls helps the girls to uncover what their vocations might be, what the will of God is for their lives, and they are really excited to see that there is a purpose, unique and special to them, that God has given them, and now they only need to help uncover it.

Dr. Clinton: You know, Patti, there's a lot of research out there that shows mental health issues begin to increase with, I'll call it personal digital device addiction. The more our kids are on that thing, the higher levels of depression and anxiety and more begin to show up in their lives.

Dr. Clinton: I'm with you. I mean, we've got to figure out how to connect with this generation and they're getting lost in all that, and we're getting lost because that dinner time conversation, that get outside type thing that helps kids enjoy and embrace life at a different level, is disappearing. It's like the old front porch. Back in the old days, it just began to fade, didn't it?

Patti Garibay: That's right. And we must become intentional around this. You know, we say, in our area, we're like, put those cell phones in this basket at the beginning of this camp out. If you need a camera, you are bringing a regular camera. You're not bringing your cell phone. Because see, that's just an excuse, right? To take a picture and to be able to be connected.

Patti Garibay: And what these girls are doing is, they're having real discussions in the tents. They're really relating to one another. Their best friends are now in this troop and beyond. Once they graduate, they still say, "Our best friends were in our AHG troop."

Patti Garibay: So if parents are looking for a way for the girls to unplug and do healthy, honest, good discussions and activities and grow in leadership and influence, American Heritage Girls is great way to do it.

Dr. Clinton: Hmm. You know, I was in an airport recently, Patti, we were at a gate and I sat down, we were waiting for our flight. And while I sat down, I obviously pulled out my phone, looked at it for a few minutes and then I just lifted my head and looked around. And I counted 23 people, and every person had their cell phone out, or an iPad or something, and they were on their digital device. Everyone seated that that gate was on there on their phone.

Dr. Clinton: We are so getting lost, and our kids, I can't imagine, you start thinking about the values, the influence that comes through that, and you start thinking about the influence maybe that we're trying to get done in church, or how we're losing our influence or our footprint in the lives of our kids at home. That's where organizations like American Heritage Girls can help step in and help dial us back, if you will.

Dr. Clinton: I had a conversation last night with a young lady. She said she grew up in northern California. She said, "Our family went camping all the time." And she said, "How I loved it. My greatest memories were getting out and camping."

Patti Garibay: Yes, it is so true. Like, you know, we've got a pinnacle award, Tim, that is called the Stars and Stripes Award. It's like our highest level award. It's really hard to get and only 515 girls over the course of 24 years have received this.

Patti Garibay: But when we were so excited to award the 500th candidate with this award, we asked her what was her biggest challenge in American Heritage Girls, and this is like the elite of the elite of AHG girls.

Dr. Clinton: Wow.

Patti Garibay: And she said, "It was going on a camping trip and having to put my phone in the basket. I was so afraid." And I thought, wow, if this girl, the cream of the crop girl, was afraid to put her phone in a basket for a week, then imagine what the rest of the girls in this nation are feeling.

Patti Garibay: And so, I think it's really important that we break this mold and that we really teach girls grit. AHG does a great job with this. It is essential really to balance support and letting girls go. And I think gravity needs to allow our grit to allow girls to fail forward and to be able to be within these troop settings where they are loved by their adult mentors, who are Christian men and women that will help bring them along in the way they should go.

Patti Garibay: And so, to create this grit and resilience, and I can do this, and understand that they have girl power because they have the power of the Holy Spirit in them. That is really transformational stuff. And that's what we're blessed to see through the 24 years of this program.

Dr. Clinton: Hmm. Our special guest today is Patti Garibay. She's executive director and founder of an organization called the American Heritage Girls. Founded way back in 1995, this is an organization that's exploding on the scene. We're going to talk about that in just a moment.

Dr. Clinton: You're listening to Family Talk, a division of the James Dobson Family Institute. I'm Dr. Tim Clinton, your host today.

Dr. Clinton: And as we unpack this a little bit, Patti, share with us about the numbers. I was more than impressed. Over 50,000 members now, all 50 states, I don't know how many foreign countries are you in, but it's beginning to really explode for such a time as this.

Patti Garibay: The Esther moment. I do believe this is the time for AHG to be known and be known. It is time for us as parents to really start to garner all of the different arrows we need for the quiver that every girl needs to battle this culture. How beautiful it is to be feminine. What a beautiful role it is to be a girl.

Patti Garibay: And in today's culture, what I am seeing even in the ranks of American Heritage Girls, the issues of gender identity. And we have to roll it back to the scripture and encourage the parents to use various sources and resources, including stuff from Family Talk, to help them understand, don't just accept this, let's talk about it. Let's help them to navigate their confusion.

Patti Garibay: So there is just so much going on right now that it is a time as this. If this country, and if this culture is eroding so badly that we don't even know if we're male or female anymore, it is time for Jesus to come for sure, but it's also time for Christians to wake up and start to really breathe scripture and truth into our kids today.

Dr. Clinton: Patti, I think it's a time to be really attuned to our kids. Paul Tournier, years ago made a statement that he believed the busy, preoccupied parent, and you can plug in any person have influenced there, misses many a cue for an opportunity to be present, and I'll add the word powerful, in his or her life. You hear what I'm saying?

Patti Garibay: Yes.

Dr. Clinton: And being attuned means to be able to speak into those moments or to bring a gift, if you will, to give to our kids, especially when they need it and the wheels are coming off in their life. I love an organization like this, Patti.

Dr. Clinton: Seriously, you have trained leaders who are there. You talked a little bit about the mission of what you're trying to get done, but I love the word grit that you brought up, about pushing them, making them earn things. This isn't about just giving kids a little star no matter what they do or whatever, they have to go through a merit system like we did back in the day when we went through Boy Scouts. I want to talk about that too, but what do you have them doing and what's the ultimate goal? You've talked about being Christlike, I know they do acts of service and more. What's it like?

Patti Garibay: Well, the troop meeting itself is a meeting of girls, ages five to 18. And that is really nice, because it's a family friendly environment and that it was intentionally created so that if you have daughters, several daughters as I had, I had three daughters, they all could be in the same troop. And therefore there was one place to run that evening.

Patti Garibay: And then when you partner with our a boy bookend, Trail Life USA, you become a family ministry. And this is done altogether. So it's very time efficient and parents can be very present. And we have lots of volunteers as a result, because it's really hard for a parent to just drop these kids off, an entire family of kids, and go do their own thing. They rather want to be part of that. So that's, that's been a side blessing that we truly didn't anticipate.

Patti Garibay: But the meeting itself, it starts with opening prayer, of course, and a flag ceremony to honor our country. And then the girls have announcements and prayer requests. And then they break into what we call unit time, which is their specific age groups. And they're often working on badges or they're working on service projects.

Patti Garibay: Badges are typically around life skills, to really teach them everything from sewing to aviation. The service projects are to really help them to find the passion for their vocation in the future. And it's amazing to hear how both these badges and these service projects, when put together, help girls identify that will that the Lord has for them that I spoke about earlier in the program.

Patti Garibay: They're saying, "Oh my goodness, you know, I didn't know that I had such a passion for missions because I learned about the World Heritage Badge and I learned about serving others through the soup kitchen and today I'm, it's married and I am now a missionary."

Patti Garibay: We've got stories like that. We've got stories of girls being geophysicists, because their first exposure to that was through AHG Geology Badge, and now they work on the Big Island at the Hawaii volcano park.

Patti Garibay: So you never know what's going to spark the girls' interests. The other beautiful thing I love about AHG is that it infuses Christ centeredness throughout. So, we talk about the geophysicist's role, this girl in her vocation there in Hawaii National, how do you bring Christ's Biblical truth to this science area where it's so full of secular humanism? And she talks about that.

Patti Garibay: So, it's just a beautiful thing where we're talking about relevancy of scripture, relevancy of Christ in our lives, and how we can also be successful and influential, but still remain who we are and whose we are.

Dr. Clinton: Hmm. Petty. What do you do with the mean girl issue? You know that? I mean, kids can be so tough on each other. How do you kind of deal with that through American Heritage Girls, and maybe their experience together?

Patti Garibay: Well, I'll tell you that bullying issue, and that's basically what that mean girls thing is, is nothing more than old fashioned bullying like we all knew about for ages. Right? We deal with this bullying issue head on, because it does happen, even in AHG troops from time to time.

Dr. Clinton: Sure.

Patti Garibay: And we talk about prevention around that. When we talk about the buddy system, we say, "Don't let them clique out and always have the same buddy but rather mix it up." And let's talk about the attributes of each individual girl during our unit time and during our group time. To say, "You know, what are the spiritual gifts of Susie?" Or, "What are the leadership gifts that Trina has?" Let's talk about those and know that every girl has a special gifting.

Patti Garibay: And we also use other groups such as Brooks Gibbs. He's a great guy on bullying, he's a Christian man and he does a lot of training and he'll be at our convention in 2020, where he talks about practical ways for a girl to react to a bully. You know, a bully's just trying to get girls to feel uncomfortable and upset, and it's been working really well for girls to use those techniques by Brooks Gibbs.

Dr. Clinton: Hmm. Patti, we've all heard the story of what's happened too with Boy Scouts of America, and we recently had on Mark Hancock. I think kind of a friend of yours, he heads an organization called, Trail Life USA. Do you guys kind of speak to each other, connect, maybe cooperate in some ways or what have you?

Patti Garibay: Yes. Matter of fact, American Heritage Girls was absolutely instrumental in the start of of Trail Life USA. In 2009, Tim, I thought that the Lord had answered every prayer I ever had. The Boy Scouts of America had asked American Heritage Girls to be a girl partner with them for the first time ever in the history of the Boy Scouts.

Dr. Clinton: Fascinating.

Patti Garibay: And so, we signed an MOU with them and it was really awesome. We were able to go to a Filmont and enjoy their trainings, and really share a lot of the resource that the Boy Scouts of America had done.

Patti Garibay: And we felt good about this because for so many years the Boy Scouts had stood strong. That family that had sued the Girl Scouts, that warranted their change in the Girl Scout Promise, or so they said, had sued the Boy Scouts as well. But the Boy Scouts did not acquiesce. They fought that.

Patti Garibay: And then, as you know, they're morally straight, came under review at the Supreme Court. They fought that too. And so I, when I was starting American Heritage Girls, I thought, what allowed the Boy Scouts to maintain their mission and the Girl Scouts to have mission creep.

Patti Garibay: And I discovered it was about ownership and that the charter organization, which is typically in the Boy Scouts case a church or private school or a community organization, a 501C3, so to speak, would actually own that troop, and that that was the difference maker, versus the Girl Scouts were owned, their councils were owned by the national organization. So mission creep could easily happen when a new administration would come in, so to speak, and change everything.

Patti Garibay: And so I studied those two and I thought it was it was good. I prayed about it. I felt that the Lord hadn't closed any doors. But then yet, after 2009, after four enjoyable years, in 2013 the Boy Scouts did change their membership standards. And we had to release ourselves from them, memorandum of understanding.

Patti Garibay: And as you can imagine, Tim, so many people called us. Thousands and thousands of concerned parents, and, "When are you going to start American Heritage Boys?" And we brought it to our board and we did some fasting and some praying. And we felt very convicted that the lord was not calling us to start that boys organization, but rather to create a meeting, a coalition per se, where those that are concerned could come to this meeting and American Heritage Girls would pay for it and would invite them and supply the administrative help that was necessary for such a large meeting across the nation to occur. And that was the launch of Trail Life USA.

Dr. Clinton: Wow.

Patti Garibay: It's been quite a beautiful journey.

Dr. Clinton: Patti, we're fighting the clock here. I wanted to let our listeners know, we have a wonderful picture of Dr. Dobson along with the some of the American Heritage Girls. Actually one of the troops. You could see the uniforms, their colors, their sense of purpose. We have that posted up on our website,

Dr. Clinton: I know that those who are listening are saying, "Tim, how do we find out more about American Heritage Girls?" Can you tell us your website and where to go, Patti? And just bring this conversation to a close. And remind moms and dads out there why they should be looking at an organization like American Heritage Girls.

Patti Garibay: Really, it's so important for today's girls to have a framework that really helps them to navigate today's life's journey and to have the skills, and to have the ability and the confidence to be able to lead well. But the only way they can do that is to have the undergirdment of a biblical worldview. And so American heritage girls provides that.

Patti Garibay: And I think parents would be blessed to be part of this organization. It's been a blessing upon blessing for families to be part of it. And we encourage you to visit our website at, or you can call us at our national headquarters at (513) 771-2025.

Patti Garibay: It is not difficult to start a troop in your church or private school. It is a blessing and a legacy for your community to help girls, and bring up in the way they should go.

Patti Garibay: And I want to thank Dr. Dobson for his continued support, for his mention of American Heritage Girls. And I also want to thank him for helping me navigate how to be a good parent. My husband and I were so influenced by Dr. Dobson and his ministry through the many years of our child rearing as well.

Dr. Clinton: Over 50,000 members, all 50 states, 13 countries, over a thousand troops have actually been chartered, and you can be a part of that. You certainly can get your daughters involved in this project. I hope that you will go up on their website,,

Dr. Clinton: Patti, thank you for joining us. Our regards from Family Talk and Dr. Dobson.

Patti Garibay: Thank you so much.

James Dobson: Well, you've been listening to Dr. Tim Clinton and his interview with Patti Garibay from American Heritage Girls.

James Dobson: I said at the top of the program and I feel very strongly about it, that the American Heritage Girls is the alternative for the Girl Scouts of America. I would not put my little girls into that program. I'm sorry to say that, they've done good work in the past that. But like I said, they've gone off the rails.

James Dobson: This American Heritage Girls should be supported and especially for those of you who have girls at home, you might want to know more about their organization.

James Dobson: I enjoyed the program today. I'm sure you did too, and we're going to close the program now. I'm going to ask Roger Marsh to bring it to an end, but there's something I want him to say to you and I hope you'll listen to him carefully.

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Roger Marsh: Be sure to join us again tomorrow for a new broadcast featuring Anne Paulk. Anne is the executive director of the Restored Hope Network.

Roger Marsh: She and Dr. Dobson will be talking about the infiltration of the LGBTQ agenda into the 21st century church. It's a fascinating conversation you will not want to miss, coming up next time right here on Family Talk.

Roger Marsh: I'm Roger Marsh. Thanks for listening.

Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
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