Today in 1912, Juliette Gordon Low assembled 18 girls together in Savannah, Ga., for the first ever Girl Scout meeting. According to the Girl Scouts website:
[Low] believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. With the goal of bringing girls out of isolated home environments and into community service and the open air, Girl Scouts hiked, played basketball, went on camping trips, learned how to tell time by the stars, and studied first aid.
Today 3.2 million girls and adults are members, and there are more than 50 million alumnae. That’s pretty impressive. Girl Scouts are probably most famous for their annual cookie sales, and I’ve sold my fair share of them. Selling cookies at stores and malls probably did more for my math skills than any class I had in school. I can still tell you just about any multiplication of $2.50, which was the price of a box when I was young.
What I remember about Girl Scouts, besides the cookie sales, aren’t the day-to-day meetings, although there were plenty of those. I remember the day camps, the overnight trips, time spent with my best friends, all of whom eventually ended up in my troop. I remember my unappreciated mother, who at different times ended up as co-leader of my troop, my sister’s troop and our 4-H club. I remember the songs we would sing, one of which seems rather inappropriate in hindsight. We rearranged the words to “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” and added a verse for each category of Girl Scout: dancing Daisies, bouncy Brownies, jabber Juniors, cool Cadettes, sexy Seniors and loudmouth Leaders. I don’t know where we learned that version, because it’s certainly not one the official Girl Scouts would have sanctioned. Alternatives I’ve found while searching the Web include super duper Seniors and lazy Leaders. I don’t know why we never said “lovely leaders,” because my mom and her co-leaders were anything but lazy or loud.
So a belated thank-you to my mother and Mrs. E, our other leader, for all of the time and effort they invested in us, and for putting up with a bunch of rowdy girls. And thank you to all of the leaders across the country who believe in Low’s vision of encouraging girls to be mentally and physically strong.