Happy 100th Anniversary, Girl Scouts!

100 years ago, on March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded The Girl Scouts of the United States of America. The first Girl Scout troop was in Savannah, Georgia. They were originally called the "Girl Guides of America" the first year.

The Girl Scouts have a great respect for the founder, Juliette Low, whose nickname was Daisy. I recall as a little girl learning about Juliette Low when I was a Brownie. Even as little girls, we had admiration for a woman who we never had the chance to meet. She was gone before our time, but her memory certainly lived on, and I never forgot her name. I remember being told by our Brownie Troop leader that Juliette Low lost her hearing after rice was thrown at her on her wedding day, and a grain of rice got stuck in her ear. I remember making a mental note that I would not have rice thrown on my wedding day when I grew up. I also remember admiring that she went on to do great things even after losing her hearing. It was an early lesson in realizing that what may seem like a limitation, doesn't have to be a limitation at all. I realized it must be more about determination and attitude. 

Juliette Low must have had a very positive attitude, because that attitude has stuck with the Girl Scouts for 100 years. I don't recall ever going to a Girl Scout meeting that wasn't a good time. When I was just 4 or 5 years old, I belonged to something called the Pixies. This was in Germantown, Tennessee, a suburb of Memphis. We wore orange uniform dresses, sang songs and made crafts. I remember we had a ceremony at the end of our time with The Pixies. We painted a rock, and crossed over a bridge. The crossing over of the bridge was to symbolize that we had crossed over to The Brownies. I recall that we tossed our painted rocks into a fake pond (which looked real in my eyes, as everything that was make-believe seemed so magically real to me in those days). Then, we removed a painted rock from the pond. I don't recall exactly what the purpose was of the rocks, but I kept my little painted rock for many years and treasured it. I may even still have it somewhere.

The Brownie troop girls wore brown, and I must admit I missed wearing orange, although I felt proud to have moved on to be with the big girls - the 6 year olds. I remember ordering the uniform with my mom from the Sears or Penneys catalog. I was so proud to wear it, along with every patch that I earned that would be added to my sash. I used to stare at all those colorful patches at home and reflect on what I had done to earn them. 

The Brownies loved to gather in a big circle while we listened to the troop leader or sang songs. We made our own little cushions to sit on, which we called "Sit Upons". Mine was made of a Raggedy Ann and Andy vinyl with layers of newspaper inside, sewn shut with yarn. Yarn was awesome. It was even in our hair bows.

We got to have mini outdoor adventures together and learn about nature. We spent the night in tents in the troop leader's back yard. We made s'mores. We sold Girl Scout cookies. We learned about safety. We learned about other cultures and religions. 

I remember very clearly when one of the troop members, who was Jewish, stood before us and told us all about Hanukkah. She lit the menorah, spoke Hebrew, and sang a couple songs for us. I thought she was absoutely amazing, and I admired her so much for being able to speak a language I hadn't heard before, and for knowing songs I had never heard before, and for celebrating a holiday that was new to me, and for having a religion that was unique to me.

So, when I went home, I demonstrated to my family on my mom's candelabra, how candles should be lit for Hannukah, and I even sang in Hebrew (or, so I felt, since I didn't know any Hebrew at all). The world became even bigger and more interesting to me that day. I don't remember that girl's name, but I still remember her cute face and her pigtails. If I were to see her today, I would thank her for so freely sharing her religion with us. She was so happy to share with us, and we were so open and free to listen with innocent hearts and minds. If only we could all stay like that forever. 

Thank you to Juliette Low, to the Girl Scout leaders, Brownie leaders, Pixie leaders (Pixies are now known as Daisies), and to all the helpers for giving us girls a great start in life. I shall close this blog entry the way we closed every meeting. Let's stand in a circle with arms crossed, holding hands, and sing "Day is done... gone the sun..."

 

 

Thank you to  for posting the sweet 1970's Girl Scout commercial on YouTube!