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Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts

Scouts across America celebrate a century of scouting—learn how it all started and how Girl Scouts help today's youth grow.

Carefullly they piled the boxes, one on top of the other, precariously working the tower high into the sky.

Then crash. The cardboard pillar imploded, falling to the ground as the onlookers collapsed into giggles.

This was the scene Friday night, as approximately 150 Daisies, Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes from various West Deptford troops gathered in the cafeteria to celebrate the 100th birthday of Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scouts of America were officially formed on March 12, 1912, when 18 girls from Savannah, GA, met with leader Juliette Low in her home. Low—who was better known as “Daisy”—believed that all girls should have the chance to develop mentally, spiritually and physically. She thought community service and open air were key to this development, so she wanted to provide girls in her area with hands-on opportunities in these areas.

Low herself was no stranger to challenges. Growing up, she suffered from chronic ear infections and lost most of the hearing in one ear. Then she became totally deaf in the other ear when a piece of rice tossed at her wedding pierced her eardrum. Her parents were separated at the time of her father’s death. In later years, Low struggled with breast cancer, which eventually took her life in 1927.

But while she was alive, Low never allowed her trials to hold her back. Instead, she used her fortitude and good sense of humor to find opportunities for adventure and fun. It was that attitude—and that life—she hoped to share with girls through scouting.

According to the official Girl Scout website, Low had called a distant cousin to say, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight.” And with this ambitious statement, girl scouting was born in our country.

That night was celebrated in full force on Friday evening. The girls, ranging in age from 5 to 13, enjoyed a variety of craft and game stations. At one, they made a paper bag scrapbook that they could use to record their scouting memories. At another, they made their own badges, then played a revised version of “Pin The Tail on the Donkey,” this time taping the badge on the Girl Scout.

They also played bingo on a board using scout terms, such as “Girl Scout Law,” “Daisies” and “Trefoil.” The game was “play until you hit bingo,” allowing each girl to end up a winner—much in the tradition that Low established.

The girls also learned to make hair barrettes out of brightly colored and patterned duct tape. OK, so this may have been stretching the Girl Scout mission, as stated on their website: “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” Still, it had the girls thinking out of the box when it came to things like duct tape. That station was a particular favorite, and many of the girls immediately put their new bow in their hair.

But it was the tower building that proved to be the most popular station of all. It helped that these were no ordinary cardboard boxes. They were the empty cases from the recent Girl Scout cookie sale. Each box was emblazoned with the name of a particular cookie—“Peanut Butter Patties,” “Thanks A Lots” and, of course, “Thin Mints.” On the other side, large slogans touted the fruits of scouting. The Thin Mint carton read, “Experience Leadership.” The orange stated, “Discover Positive Values.” “Connect With Team Work,” said the pink.

Scouting has changed through the years. But the values that Juliette Low planned to share with the girls of Savannah are alive and well, and still being taught a hundred years later. The girls worked as team, placing carton upon carton as the towers grew higher. And when the boxes rained down upon them, they laughed, helped each other off the ground, and started building again.

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