A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Rachel Robinson
“On my honor, I will try…” I sang softly and grinned. As the song came to an end, I closed my eyes and basked in the glow of the campﬁre.
“What are you thinking about?” Mom came up to me and wrapped her arms around me.
“Nothing much, just thinking about this weekend and all I have to bring back to my girls. Both of the crafts will be perfect for my ﬁfth graders.” I turned and looked at her. “Can you believe that we’re coming up on a hundred years of Girl Scouts?”
“It’s not for another seven years, but I do know what you mean. I can’t wait for that party!” My mom smiled-thinking of what her service unit was already planning. Then, she looked up as someone called her name.
“Judi! What’ll we sing next?” “It’s getting late, so, why don’t we sing Green Trees and Taps and then go to sleep?” There was a general murmur of agreement. So, my mother stood up and went to the edge of the ﬁre to lead the songs.
Later that night, I closed my eyes and thought that because of one person, one courageous stubborn extraordinary woman, this was all able to happen. I am grateful for Girl Scouts. They have taught me so much: to be me, no matter what that meant, to be strong and conﬁdent. Girl Scouts taught me that I could be whatever I wish to be whether it is a mother, an astronaut, an author, or (who knows?) maybe someday the President. Girl Scouts taught me that I, one person, am able to make a difference to the world and to give something back to the world. That’s what I am doing now. I am a leader to a group of Juniors, third through ﬁfth graders, and I try to give the girls some of the things that I was given by my Girl Scout leader: my mother. Then, I thought of the person who had created the ﬁrst Girl Scouts in the United States and all that she had to overcome to do so.
Juliette ‘Daisy’ Gordon was born on Halloween in 1860 in Savannah, Georgia, an appropriate birthday for someone who never believed that normal was good enough. Throughout her life, she traveled all over the United States and Europe. She had a happy, loving childhood. She was married, in 1886, to William Mackay Low and widowed in 1905. For a few years, she searched for a purpose to her life–something to do that would be worthwhile. In 1911, on a fateful trip to Europe, she met Lord and Lady Baden-Powell, the founders of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides. After helping them in everything from organizing the program to working with a troop for a year, she returned home to the states with plans to start her own youth organization. “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America and all of the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!” With that one call to her cousin, the ﬁrst troop was started. The ﬁrst meeting was on March 12, 1912. Her niece, Margaret “Daisy Doots” Gordon, was the ﬁrst girl to be registered. From eighteen girls, in the beginning, we have grown to over four million girls in just the United States, which does not count all of our millions of sisters around the world.
In a time when girls were thought of as pretty ornaments, ‘Daisy’ encouraged girls to learn math and science. She believed that sooner rather then later women would expand into the workforce and would become a strong knowledgeable part of that force but that the only way that could happen would be through expanding their minds and capabilities. She taught them to play, be creative, camp, cook, and survive in the outdoors. She stretched their minds and abilities, and when they tried to tell her that they had gone as far as possible, she pushed them further. As a result of a childhood illness, she was deaf. Yet, she believed that disabilities did not matter. In a time when people with disabilities were thought of as subhuman, she encouraged them to join and taught them that they were wonderful, capable people. She showed girls that they could be ladies and mothers, yet still do everything else. She thought that women could be whatever they chose to be–not just what they were told was proper.
She put her time and all of her energy into the program: into getting it started right, into setting up traditions, into making a program that would be associated with strength, fairness, and friendship. Her contacts overseas laid the foundation for the Worldwide Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Today, we have ﬁve world centers where girls can go to other countries, be welcomed, and learn about other cultures. In 1927, ‘Daisy’ died of breast cancer. In her brief time on Earth, she was able to leave a legacy that still lives on today. Each Girl Scout knows her name and what she has done for us. We know that in order to give us everything we have now and everything that we will be, she had to overcome societal “norms” and deafness. She did this because she wanted to have a purpose for her life, and her purpose was us.
Those few words, which every Girl Scout learns as soon as she joins, reverberate through history with the meaning of honor, friendship, and loyalty. They may have changed slightly in their wording, but the earnestness and honesty with which each girl pledges her heart to them are the same. Each year, more girls, no matter what their race, religion, or disability, are shown that they can be anything and everything. All they have to do is work hard and dream. I wonder what she would think of us now, organized at the highest level yet still full of volunteers who work with and love their girls. I think she would be proud.
“I must remember to tell my girls all of this… March twelfth is soon, maybe we’ll have a birthday party…” I thought sleepily as I fell softly asleep.