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Monday, March 12, 2012

100 Years Of Girl Scouts in America

From Life Magazine
Today is the 100th birthday of the Girl Scouts of America. Started by Juliette Gordon Low on March 12th, 1912, after a trip to England. There she saw the beginnings of the Boy Scouts and, happily, for 50,000,000 girls in the United States, she brought the idea back to Savannah and started the first troop with her niece, Daisy Gordon ( the adult pictured with a young scout.)

Girl Scouts has been an influential part of millions of girls lives for 100 years now. For many it may have been just a few years in Brownies and Juniors. For others it becomes a life long passion. Either way, the experience of being a Scout never really leaves.

Whether memories circle around friendships, camping, community, or crafts, some part of Scouting becomes a part of a girl forever. It is a time always remembered fondly. A time when respect  for self and others is instilled deeply into the soul.
Nancy, Julie, JoAnna, and me

Much of my time in Scouting was spent with the women in this picture. Julie, Nancy and I were together from the beginning. Brownies scouts, who happily did crafts and cookouts. Julie's mom, Mary, was our leader, and my mom was our assistant leader. I remember in the earliest years meeting in someones basement. As the troop grew we moved to a local church. As Juniors JoAnna and her family moved to the neighborhood. At that time, JoAnna's mom, Jan, our friend Tari's mom, Pam, and my my mom led our troop. We took trips to places that I am sure I would have never gotten to go to without Scouts. One of my favorite trips was to Tennessee. We went to Nashville. We saw the Grand Ole Opre, went to Orpe Land and spent days with other troops from all over the country At the Opre Land  Girl Scout Jamboree. We learned that The Desperado song was sung many different ways than how we learned it. We traded patches and stories with girls of many backgrounds different than our own. We made new friends, if even just for a few days.
Camp Sacajawea
One of the most important and long lasting effects of Girl Scouting is learning self reliance and independence. That is where camp comes in. You know all those cookies you have bought over the years? Scouts use the proceeds from selling those to help them pay to go to camp. They earn their way to camp. They learn that working hard, selling those darn cookies could help them get to camp. They learn they can rely on their own hard work to get to a goal they have set. Not just expect someone else to give it to them. 

At camp, girls get their first experiences of being away from home for more than a night. They learn to make friends outside their comfortable little circle back home. They learn to work together for common goals. Even if that goal is as simple as starting a fire to make S'mores. Girls can be  fickle creatures. Getting a bunch of them to work together, especially as teenagers, can be a challenge beyond all others. Girl Scouts teaches that this can be done. Sometimes starting that fire, on a rainy day, is the only way to get to eat supper, so get along, work together and start a fire must be done. Once the fire is started, supper made, and tummies are full, there is a feeling of accomplishment that is undeniable. It is the start of independence, the start of self accomplishment. The start of becoming an adult. One that can be strong, self reliant and personally responsible for their own actions in life. 

Part of that cookie money also goes to the troop. That money is spent on activities for the girls as a whole. Like that trip to Tennessee. With that girls learn that their hard work can also help others, the whole troop. Maybe a girl, who could never afford to go on a trip like that will get to go because everyone in the troop pulled together to help her get to go. That happened to me as a Senior Scout. My last year of high school got very busy. I had a job, was in drill team and was a wrestling cheerleader. Scouts meetings were hard to get to, and I missed many of them. I didn't have the time to sell cookies. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would miss the trip that year. I hadn't earned my way. I knew it wasn't going to happen. It made me sad too, the troop was going to Wyoming. A place I had always wanted to go. As it turned out, one of the other girls, couldn't go. I don't remember why, but her trip had already been paid for by the troop. Carolyn, my leader at that time, called my mom, I would be going on the trip after all. That trip meant more to me than an other. Though I hadn't earned my way, my troop decided they wanted me there. Though I hadn't been to many meetings that year, my troop still thought of me when the other girl couldn't go. I was over whelmed. I was so grateful, and I enjoyed that trip like no other. I tried very hard to pitch in and get things done. I found myself not dreading the things I dreaded on on other trips, like washing dishes, finding firewood, putting up or taking down camp, or even just getting up in the morning. I looked forward to doing these things as a thank you to my troop. I may not have earned the money for the trip, but I would earn the trip while I was there. I grew up a little because of that trip. I learned not to take for granted a gift given by others. I started to see that there were things beyond my little world to be grateful for, like my fellow Girl Scouts. 

The most important Girl Scout in my life, my mom


  1. Okay you just made me cry a little with this one! I was never able to be a G.S. myself but as a single parent I made sure that my daughter was involved in the program. Wonderful years. We had a ball and as an assistant leader it was just as important an experence for me. Great program and "If you'r not carefull you might just learn something"!

    1. I loved being a scout, I'm glad you and your daughter had such a great experience with it too