As a girl, I like many other girls became a Girl Scout. It was a group of girls having fun, while learning things and earning badges. The group was founded on March 12, 1912, and turns 105 years old today. The organization, called Girl Scouts, was founded in Savannah, Georgia by a woman named Juliette Gordon Low. She was born in 1860, and became a widow in 1905. She needed something…a cause. She had suffered through a bad marriage to a man who cheated on her and left most of his estate to his mistress. She wanted to help young women become self-sufficient…a cause borne out of her own experiences of feeling defined by the era’s roles for women, so she came up with the idea of a group that would teach young women about their worth and abilities. She first worked with a Scottish organization called Girl Guides and then founded the first American branch of the group in 1912, but she decided to break away and further develop her young women’s scouting association on her own. She soon changed the organization’s name to the Girl Scouts, and became the organization’s first president.
Low hoped to give her girls the opportunity to grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually, Low started the organization with just 18 girls in attendance at that first meeting. Low was an athlete, as well as an art lover. Her dream was to teach the girls that they could do anything. She wanted her girls to find out that they could help out in so many ways, and she definitely proved that. The Girl Scouts of America were very involved with the war effort back home during both World War I and World War II. They sold war bonds, collected peach pits for gas masks…peach pits were used as filters, worked in hospitals, and provided hands-on support to the country and the troops. Then, during the 1930s, when the Great Depression hit, the Girl Scouts again stepped up to the plate, collecting clothing and canned goods for the poor, making them quilts, providing meals for impoverished children, and helping out at hospitals.
During my time in the Girl Scouts, I can’t say that I did anything that was as life changing as the Girl Scouts of days gone by, but I did enjoy my time as a scout. We learned many skills that earned us badges to wear on our sash, and some of those skills are still things I use today. The camaraderie that I felt as a Girl Scout was amazing. Some of the best friendships of my childhood were formed in those meetings. Those are years I will never forget, and I owe it all to Juliette Gordon Low, and her inspired ideas about what girls could be. Juliette Gordon Low died of breast cancer in 1927, in her Savannah, Georgia home. She was 66 years old. It was her request that she be buried in her Girl Scout uniform, because her years with the Girl Scouts were truly the happiest hears of her life. She also requested that a telegram from the National Board of Girl Scouts of the USA be placed in her pocket. It read, “You are not only the first Girl Scout, you are the best Girl Scout of them all.”