History of the Girl Scout Organization


Affiliations


Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts in the United States


Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., was born October 31, 1860, in Savannah, Georgia, and died there January 17, 1927.

Daisy, as she was known to family and friends, was the second of six children of William Washington Gordon and Eleanor Kinzie Gordon. Her father's family were early settlers in Georgia and her mother's family played an important role in the founding of Chicago.

A sensitive and talented youngster, Daisy spent a happy childhood in her large Savannah home, which has been purchased and restored by Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. Now known as the Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout National Center, the handsome Regency house was designated a Registered Historic Landmark in 1965.

Young Daisy developed what was to become a lifetime interest in the arts. She wrote poems, sketched, wrote and acted in plays and later became a skilled painter and sculptor.

In her teens, Daisy attended private schools in Virginia and later a French school in New York City. Following her school years she traveled extensively in the United States and Europe, broadening her education.

On the date of her parent's 29th wedding anniversary, December 21, 1886, Juliette Gordon married William Mackay Low, a wealthy Englishman. Although the couple moved to England, Juliette found time to continue her travels, dividing her time between the British Isles and America.

During the Spanish-American war, she returned to aid her country. With her mother she helped organize a convalescent hospital for soldiers in Florida, where her father, who had been a Captain in the Confederate Army, was stationed as a General in the U.S. Army. At the end of the war she returned to England.

After her husband's death in 1905, Juliette spent several years drifting without a sense of direction. All this changed in 1911 when she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, and became interested in the new youth movement. One year later she returned to the United States and made her historic phone call to a friend saying, "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight." Thus, on March 2, 1912, Juliette Low gathered 18 girls together to organize the first two American Girl Guide troops. Daisy Gordon, her niece, was the first registered member. The name of the organization was changed to Girl Scouts the following year.

In developing the Girl Scout movement in the United States, Mrs. Low brought girls of all backgrounds into the out-of-doors, giving them opportunity to learn about nature and develop self-reliance and resourcefulness. She encouraged girls to prepare themselves not only for traditional homemaking roles, but also for possible future roles as professional women, in the arts, sciences and business, and for active citizenship outside the home. Disabled girls were welcomed into Girl Scouting at a time when they were excluded from many other activities. This seemed quite natural to Juliette Low, who never let her own deafness keep her from full participation in life.

From an initial 18 girls in 1912, Girl Scouting has grown to nearly 3.3 million in the 1990's. It is the world's largest voluntary organization for girls and has influenced the lives of more than 50 million girls and adult women and men who have belonged to Girl Scouts.

Juliette Low accumulated friends and admirers of all ages, nationalities and walks of life. By maintaining contacts with overseas Girl Guides and Girl Scouts during World War I, she helped lay the foundation for today's World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. After her death in 1927, her friends honored her by establishing the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund, which finances international projects among Girl Guides and Girl Scouts throughout the world.

On July 3rd, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill authorizing a three-cent commemorative stamp in honor of Juliette Gordon Low. The stamp was one of the few dedicated to a woman. During World War II, a liberty ship was named in her honor, and in 1954, the city of Savannah honored her by naming a new school for her.

On October 28, 1979, Juliette Gordon Low was installed in the Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. The purpose of the Women's Hall of Fame is to "honor in perpetuity those women, citizens of the United States of America, whose contributions to the arts, athletics, business, education, government, the humanities, philanthropy and science have been of greatest value to the development of their country."

On December 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill naming a new Federal Building in Savannah, Ga. for Juliette Gordon Low. It was only the second Federal Building in history to be named for a woman.

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Girl Scout History

How many of these historical Girl Scout facts do you know?

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THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., the largest girl-serving organization in the world, has announced the appointment of Navy Rear Admiral Marsha Johnson Evans as its new National Executive Director. She will join GSUSA around the beginning of the new year, succeeding Mary Rose Main, who has retired after 44 years in Girl Scouting.

Rear Adm. Evans is the Superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Until recently, she concurrently served as director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch, Germany. Additionally, Rear Admiral Evans has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Navy’s worldwide recruiting organization.

A former White House Fellow and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, she earned a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Mass., and a bachelor’s degree from Occidental College in Los Angeles. She is married to Gerard R. Evans, a retired Navy jet pilot.

Rear Admiral Evans, who was a Girl Scout during her youth, enthusiastically said that she looks forward to guiding Girl Scouts into the 21st century. "For eight years, I participated in Girl Scouting both in the U.S. and overseas as an American servicemember’s dependent," she recalls. "Girl Scouting contributed directly and significantly to the development of my personal concepts of patriotism, service, and respect for others. I look forward to ensuring that future generations of young girls have the opportunities I had for personal growth, adventure, and fun."

She will be based at GSUSA National Headquarters in Manhattan, where staff members develop resources and program materials to support the work of 320 Girl Scout councils nationwide.

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World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts


Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. is one of 136 member countries of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). Girl Scouts are members of the family of 8.5 million Girl Scouts and Girl Guides the world over. Juliette Low (the founder of Girl Scouting in the United States) and many women like her, worked closely with Robert BadenPowell, the founder of Boy Scouts, to adapt the movement to local conditions and cultures around the world. The spirit of the WAGGGS movement is channeled into several areas: self development, teamwork through the patrol system, community service, outdoor activities, and partnerships between youth and adults. Through these avenues, young people experience moral, physical and intellectual growth.

WAGGGS Mission Statement


"The World Association is a voluntary worldwide movement open to all girls and young women. Based on spiritual values, WAGGGS has a commitment to peace and international understanding.

"WAGGGS offers a dynamic educational program to girls and young women to develop their full potentials as individuals, through concern for others.

"WAGGGS strives for excellence by providing opportunities to enable girls and young women to make informed decisions in a changing world.

"Through the sharing of common values and experiences and enjoying friendships, members develop confidence and skills to shape the future.

"With professionalism, determination and vision, WAGGGS gives a lead to girls and young women today to be the responsible world citizens of tomorrow."

Belonging to a Worldwide Movement


Every Girl Scout is part of an international sisterhood. When Girl Guides and Girl Scouts meet, instead of seeing each other as “different,” they feel the similarities of a common heritage in Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting. They share the same Promise and Law, the same symbols, the same belief in active citizenship, the same goal of helping themselves and others grow into the fullest sense of womanhood.

The World Association of Girl Guide and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) makes this international sisterhood a reality since it is the largest and most diversified youth movement for girls and young women today. International travel opportunities give Girl Scouts a chance to see the world, to sample many cultures, and to meet people whose lifestyles may be very different from their own. These opportunities take place in countries all over the globe. In the last several years, girls have traveled from the U.S. to international opportunities in New Zealand, Kenya, Denmark, Singapore and Barbados, just to name a few. Girls are chosen to participate in the following types of projects and activities:

National Jamborees and Anniversary Camps
Patrols of girls live together in primitive settings for these events using their camping skills and meeting girls from other countries.

Community Service Projects
Carried out in cooperation with young people of the host country, these opportunities involve working with people in a village or work camp and require skills in literacy, ecology, child care, aiding people with disabilities, recreation, crafts, hygiene, gardening or construction.

Family Living and Home Visits
These opportunities are focused on home hospitality and joining Girl Guides in their troop, family, and community activities and require girls who can adapt to other cultures and languages.

Visits to the four World Centers
The international gatherings and training sessions held at the World Centers are open to girls and adults from any of the WAGGGS member organizations. The World Centers are popular destinations for girls planning international trips.

Insights from International Travel Opportunities


International wider opportunities are like a view through the wide-angle lens of a camera because they offer young women unparalleled insights into different lifestyles, heritages, and cultures as well as conveying the fundamental meaning and importance of Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding throughout the world. Frequently, the notion of international travel simply conjures up images of glamour and fun, but in actuality a lot of planning and hard work are the pillars upon which a successful trip are built. From the initial application with its numerous pages to raising funds and researching facts about different regions of the world, girls must expend a great deal of time and effort to make their dreams of an international wider opportunity a reality.

The "snapshot" that results from that view through the "wide- angle lens" remains forever etched in a girl's memory when she returns from her trip abroad. In fact, the following are some highlights recounted by Senior Girl Scout Amy Gamble from her memorable journey to the world center in Sangam and Jenna Capeci, a Senior Girl Scout, from her trip to Kenya.

Tales from a World Center

Written by Amy Gamble,
Connecticut Valley Girl Scout Council
From: Wider Ops: 1994 Girl Scout Wider Opportunities (GSUSA)

Out of Africa
A Girl Scout Reflects on the People and Land of Kenya

Jenna Capeci
(Senior Girl Scout on trip to Kenya in 1993)
Brooklyn, New York
From: Wider Ops: Adventures for Older Girls 1996 (GSUSA)

A Brief History


The founder of the Girl Guide/Girl Scout movement was Robert Baden-Powell, First Baron Baden-Powell of Gilwell, OM, known universally as B-P. The World Chief Guide was B-P’s wife, Olave Lady Baden-Powell, GBE.

Here is a short history of how the international Girl Guide/Girl Scout movement originated.

Member organizations of WAGGGS


The World Association is divided into four regions and a regional group:

The Western Hemisphere Region
The Africa Region
The Europe Region
The Asia-Pacific Region
The Arab Regional Group

These are voluntary groupings that enable member organizations to share resources when dealing with common problems and opportunities.

Each national organization must:

  1. adhere to the fundamental principles of the original Promise and Law;
  2. have membership which is voluntary and open to all girls and women without distinction of creed, race, nationality or any other circumstance;
  3. be self-governing, with the freedom to formulate its policy and put it into practice;
  4. be independent of any political organization and any political policy.

The types of projects in which Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are engaged vary with the needs in their local communities. Here are samples of community projects being carried out in four different parts of the world.

India
The Bharat Guides of India have made excellent progress in their campaign to combat leprosy. The efforts of these dedicated young people have contributed significantly to the World Health Organization's target of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem by the year 2000.

The Bharat Guides have been carrying out its Leprosy Awareness Program since 1985, the International Year of Youth, when AHM, the German Leprosy Relief Organization launched a project to involve young people in India. Since then, Bharat’s Leprosy Free School Project has inspired initiatives in other countries affected by this devastating, stigma-ridden, but ultimately curable disease.

The Leprosy Awareness Program of the Bharat Guides includes 20 major types of activities, including seminars, awareness marches, exhibitions, street plays, essay competitions, songs, poster making, quizzes, slogan writing, and puppet shows to raise awareness of the issue. So far, 10,000,000 people have been contacted by the project; 2,000,000 people screened; 1.5 million contacts made door to door; and 8,000 individuals identified and cured. The latest project, entitled Dastak, meaning “knock at the door” was launched in 1994 during the International Year of the Family, in Gwalior City, and reports that the number of houses where the message has been delivered has reached the amazing figure of 82,660.

Jamaica
Girl Guides in Jamaica have been forging links with other non-governmental organizations and gaining a high public profile while participating in skills training, primary health, and youth sex education initiatives. For the skills training program, volunteers gave Saturday morning classes in basic record keeping, English, grooming, and sales and service. The lack of these skills can hold women back, even when they have secured employment.

Jamaica's Primary Health Care Project is one of its most recent, having begun in September 1993 with the backing of the government. It is a continuation of a 1989 project. Jamaican Girl Guides attended a workshop run by the Bureau of Health Education which concentrated on peer counseling techniques and information about child immunization. The girls plan to work through church organizations. The have some funding constraints to overcome, but hope to create greater awareness of the importance of immunization.

Jamaica’s Youth for Education in Sexuality project has also ended its first three-year phase. Participating youth groups were organized to offer peer group counseling within their local communities in a bid to create awareness, hence reducing the number of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Liberia
The Liberian Girl Guide Association has an extensive program of activities to offer the most practical benefits of Guiding to communities in that crisis-ridden country. One particular development has been the strengthening of the Association’s relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the area. Some far-reaching projects are being implemented with WHO, for example, a Guide House for prostitutes and girl drop outs. Another plan is to place older Girl Guides with first aid knowledge at various points where information is disseminated to the community.

Other ways of promoting peace, unity, and reconciliation during this crucial period of Liberia’s transition are being discussed. While talks continue, Guides have taken action and toured refugee shelters to assess conditions for the people living there. The Liberian Girl Guide Association receives continuous requests for the extension of its services to more communities.

United Kingdom
Girl Guides in the United Kingdom are raising funds by recycling cans. The Aluminum Can Recycling Association (ACRA), a non-profit organization, has launched a new fundraising project called Alu Cans for Kids’ Causes. The Guide Association of the United Kingdom is one of the many youth organizations participating. Girls may bring their empty cans to recycling points and donate the money they receive to a charity of their choice. Girl Guides may choose to recycle cans to fund their troop activities too.


The following countries have Girl Guide or Girl Scout organizations that belong to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

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International Collaborations


Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and WAGGGS maintain relationships with international organizations with similar goals.

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) has consultative status with ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council of the United Nations); UNICEF (UN Children’s Fund); UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization); and FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization). As a result, WAGGGS participates in regular high-level meetings and joint projects.

WAGGGS cooperates with the United Nations and its specialized agencies and works closely with other non- governmental organizations (NGOs) whose activities are associated with youth and women. WAGGGS has teams of volunteer representatives at the UN in Geneva, Nairobi, New York, Paris, Rome, and Vienna.

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., as a member organization of WAGGGS, has affiliations, maintains regular contacts, shares educational resources and participates in joint projects with many of the United Nations specialized agencies. Many UNICEF resources related to girls and young women, for example, are shared with Girl Scout councils because of their educational value and affinity with the Girl Scout mission.

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., along with many other member organizations of WAGGGS, are involved in the Peace Pack Project to benefit refugee children in camps worldwide. Thousands of packs have been assembled by girls in the United States and Girl Guides in other countries. They are currently on their way to children in need. This is another example of collaboration with a UN agency, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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National Affiliations


Collaborations Help to Make Girl Scouting Possible in Many Communities

The current structure of our economy has made it very difficult for organizations particularly in the not-for- profit sector to continue to fulfill their missions in the traditional way. Scarce resources have constricted budgets, and the growing participation of all Americans in the workforce has limited the availability of volunteers. These factors make it increasingly necessary for groups to collaborate by, sharing members, resources and facilities in order to accomplish their goals. Girl Scouting is no stranger to these trends.

Nationally, GSUSA has found it beneficial to work with other groups in order to accomplish goals related to diversity and membership services. At any given time, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. has national relationships with over 300 not-for- profit organizations. A primary motivation for maintaining these associations is to gain information that may increase opportunities for Girl Scout councils to collaborate with the local or regional affiliates of these groups.

Some of these organizations focus on issues affecting women and girls--for example, the American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters or sorority chapters. Others, such as the National PTA, National School Board Association, or American Library Association, have educational missions. Organizations that serve particular racial/ethnic group--like the National Urban League, Organization of Chinese Americans, and National Council of La Raza--promote issues of key importance to many Girl Scout members.

Organizations as varied as the Children's Defense Fund, Keep America Beautiful, and the American Association of Retired Persons, all have unique advantages to offer Girl Scouts. The first is a rich source of information about the problems that affect children in our society; the second has sponsored clean-up and environmental awareness activities in which many Girl Scout troops and councils have participated; and the third has developed special resources to help Girl Scout councils to recruit members through a nationwide Volunteer Talent Bank.

Persons who are involved in one of these many organizations can hekp to make Girl Scouting available to more girls by joining in our collaborative projects.

Here are some examples:

AARP

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. have worked together for many years, making it possible for millions of Girl Scouts and older Americans to enjoy life-enriching intergenerational experiences.

In 1986, AARP introduced a Volunteer Talent Bank, through which persons 50 years of age and older are matched with a variety of positions available through AARP, Girl Scouts and other selected organizations.

The Volunteer Talent Bank is a computerized volunteer-to- position referral project that not only brings opportunities to older Americans and girls but can help to expand a Girl Scout council’s volunteer base.

AARP members interested in helping the girls in their communities can contact:

AARP Volunteer Talent Bank
601 E Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20049
FAX: 202/434-6460

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Religious Recognitions for Girls and Adults in Girl Scouting

"We, the members of Girl Scouts of the United States of America, (are) united by a belief in God.... We believe that the motivating force in Girl Scouting is a spiritual one."
-Preamble, Constitution of Girl Scouts of he United States of America

Through Girl Scouting, each girl is encouraged to become a stronger member of her own religious group, and every Girl Scout group recognizes that religious instruction is the responsibility of parents and religious leaders. Religious recognition programs are developed and administered by religious groups themselves. Because the Girl Scout organization recognizes that it has no authority to decide whether or not a girl has reached a certain stage of spiritual development, the Girl Scout organization does not grant permission to use the Girl Scout insignia and name on a religious recognition provided by a religious group.

The following list provides information about the religious recognitions for each age level of girls and for adults who are Girl Scouts. Additional information about these recognitions is available from the contact listed.

  • Baha'i
  • Brownie
Unity of Mankind
  • Junior
Unity of Mankind
  • Cadette
Unity of Mankind
  • Senior
Unity of Mankind
  • Baptist
  • Brownie
See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Christian Churches
  • Junior
See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Christian Churches
  • Cadette
See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Christian Churches
  • Senior
See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Christian Churches
  • Adult
Good Sheperd Emblem
  • Buddhist

  • Brownie

Ages 6-8 Padma Award
  • Junior

Ages 9-10 Padma Award
  • Cadette

Ages 12-14 Padma Award
  • Senior

Ages 15-17 Padma Award
  • Christian Science
  • Junior
Ages 9-10 Christian Science God and Country
  • Cadette
Ages 11-14 Christian Science God and Country
  • Churches of Christ

  • Brownie

Joyful Servant Award
  • Junior

Joyful Servant Award
  • Cadette

Good Servant Award
  • Senior

Good Servant Award
  • Adult

Faithful Servant Award
  • Brownie
Ages 6-9 St. George Award
  • Junior
Ages 9-10 Chi-Rho
  • Cadette
Ages 11-14 Alpha Omega
  • Senior
Ages 15-17 Alpha Omega
  • Adult
Prophet Elias
  • Episcopal

  • Brownie

See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Christian Churches
  • Junior

See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Christian Churches
  • Cadette

See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Cristian Churches
  • Senior

See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Christian Churches
  • Adult

St. George Award; Adult mentor programs for each Girl Scout level are available
  • Hindu

  • Brownie

Ages 6-8, Grades 1-3 Dharma Award
  • Junior

Ages 8-11, Grades 3-6 Dharma Award
  • Islamic

  • Brownie

Ages 5-9 Bismillah Award
  • Junior

Ages 9-11 In the Name of Allah Award
  • Cadette

Ages 12-15 Quratula'in Award
  • Senior

Ages 15-17 Muslimeen Award
  • Adult

Ora Award
  • Jewish

  • Brownie

Ages 6-9 Lehavah Award
  • Junior

Ages 9-11 Bat Or Award
  • Cadette

Ages 11-14 Menorah Award
  • Senior

Ages 15-17 Menorah Award
  • Lutheran

  • Brownie

See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Christian Churches
  • Junior

See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Christian Churches
  • Cadette

See awards listed under Protestant and Independent Christian Churches
  • Senior

Ages 14-17, Grades 9-12 Lutheran Living Faith
  • Adult

Lamb Award and Servant of Youth; Adult mentor programs for Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes are available
  • Junior
Ages 10-11 Gospel in Action Award
  • Cadette
Ages 12-13 Young Woman of Truth  
  • Senior
Ages 14-15 Young Woman of Promise
Ages 16-17 Young Woman of Faith
Young Womanhood Recognition
  • Brownie
Ages 6-8, Grades 1-3 God and Me
  • Junior
Ages 9-10, Grades 4-5 God and Family
  • Cadette
Ages 11-13, Grades 6-8 God and Church
  • Senior
Ages 14-17, Grades 9-12 God and Life
  • Adult
God and Service Recognition; Adult mentor programs for each Girl Scout age level are available
  • Brownie

Ages 6-8, Grades 2-3 That of God
  • Junior

Ages 8-11, Grades 4-5 That of God
  • Cadette

Ages 11-14, Grades 6-9 Spirit of Truth
  • Senior

Ages 14-17, Grades 10-12 Spirit of Truth
  • Adult

Friends Emblem
  • Brownie

Age 8 Light of the World
  • Junior

Ages 9-10 Light of the World, Age 11 Liahona
  • Cadette

Ages 12-14 Liahona
  • Senior

Ages 15-17 Exploring My Life and World
  • Adult
  World Community International Youth Service Award
  • Brownie

Ages 7-9 Family of God
  • Junior

Ages 9-11 I Live My Faith
  • Cadette

Ages 12-14 Marian Medal
  • Senior

Age 15 Marian Medal, Ages 15-17 Spirit Alive
  • Adult

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal and St. Anne Medal
  • Junior

Ages 9-11 Religion in Life
  • Cadette

Ages 12-14 Religion in Life
  • Senior

Ages 15-17 Religion in Life
  • Brownie

Ages 6-8 God in Me
  • Junior

Ages 9-11 God in Me
  • Cadette

Ages 11-13 Light of God
  • Adult

Distinguished Youth Service Award Miniature Pin

*The following is a partial listing of some of the denominations that would use religious recognitions listed for Protestant and Independent Christian Churches: African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Assembly of God, Baptist churches, Church of God, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Nazarene, Presbyterian churches, Reformed churches, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist churches. If you have questions about which religious recognition program your church should use, please call P.R.A.Y., (800) 933-PRAY (7729).

Local Religious Recognition Programs

The religious recognition programs listed above are available nationwide. There are also many religious recognition programs not nationally available that have been developed by individual religious groups for local use. Check with your local clergy for information on such programs in your area.

NOTE: Local clergy should always be consulted about their policies and practices in religious recognition programs for Girl Scouts because they are responsible for the religious instruction of the girls and the presentation of the awards.

Questions about religious recognition programs for Girl Scouts may be addressed to the sponsoring religious group, the Girl Scout council in your area, or National/ International Relations, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., 420 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018-2798.

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