Girl Scouts from Hall County gathered Sunday at the Martha Hope Cabin to share stories, pictures, s’mores and campfire songs, and reconnect with other members of the organization.
Teri Byers, committee chair and organizer of the first of three alumni events, has been a troop leader since 1997, first leading her daughter’s troop and now her granddaughter’s troop.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Byers said. “I never was a Girl Scout as a child, I was a Campfire Girl, but I’m a Girl Scout now. We just have a good time.”
Not only did Byers provided the venue and snacks for the event, she also hosted Juliette Gordon Low impersonator Vanessa Cowie. Almost 100 years ago, Low organized the first Girl Scout troop in Savannah with 18 girls.
The Girl Scout founder from head to toe, Cowie revealed the impressive history of the American Girl Scouts, from Low’s vision of empowered and confident girls to her predictions of a glorious and growing future. According to the Girl Scouts website, today there are 3.2 million Scouts from Brownies and to alumni.
Low was born in Savannah, and spent her time between her home in the states and her home in England. Acquainted with Sir Robert Baden-Powell and his sister, the founders of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in England, Low sought to bring the organization back to Savannah.
“The first four years of Girl Scouting in United States I paid for out of my own pocket,” Cowie said, recounting how Low sold her pearls in order to fund the first troop.
Low encouraged a girl-lead experience and her troop was in charge of what they wanted to do and what they wanted to be called. Though Baden-Powell had slated “scout” for his boys, Low conceded to her girls adopting the monicker as well.
Since 1912, the Girl Scouts have been a service organization striving to better their communities. After 100 years of scouting, the program is slowly changing to fit the lives of today’s girls.
Byers has seen change in the Girl Scout program over the last few years. The new Pathways program offers six different opportunities to allow girls to continue contributing to the organization, from special sessions to online participation. The grade-level ranking of Girl Scouts will also change, adding “ambassador” for high school girls.
“You have to change with the times. You can’t do things now they way it was done in 1950,” Byers said. “Girl Scouts has to change and adapt with it, or we become the old Girl Scouts. We want to be the relevant now Girl Scouts.”
The Girl Scouts will host two additional alumni events in Athens and Cornelia later in the year to continue the centennial celebration. For more information about The Girl Scouts, its history or how to get involved, visit their website: www.girlscouts.org.