On October 31, 157 years ago, Girl Scouts’ founder Juliette Gordon Low was born. Our founder believed that girls should learn the skills they’d need to be self-sufficient, like first-aid and cooking (and, apparently, how to stop a runaway horse…?), but she also had them participate in activities that were deemed inappropriate for girls at the time, like camping, aviation, and typewriting.
The first Girl Scout handbook listed a total of 27 proficiency badges (Dairy Maid badge, anyone?). In honor of our fearless, trailing-blazing, outdoor-loving leader, get a taste of what it was like to be a Girl Scout when Juliette held her first troop meeting in Savannah, GA. What’re you waiting for? Let’s Girl Scout like it’s 1912!
Try your hand at one (or all!) of the 1912 badge activities below:
Juliette had a keen interest in the out-of-doors; she believed that by venturing into nature to hike and camp, girls would also develop an appreciation for and desire to conserve their environment.
1912—To earn this badge, girls had to make a collection of (or draw) sixty species of wildflowers, ferns, and grasses, and correctly name them; draw or photograph twelve animals; name and describe sixty wild birds, animals, insects, or reptiles in the woods or in a zoological garden and describe their lives, habits, appearance, etc.
Long before there was texting, people used other ways to convey information and send messages to each other.
1912—To earn this badge, girls had to send and receive a message in two of the following systems of signaling: semaphore and Morse code. Not fewer than twenty-four letters a minute.
Now—With your girls, practice the semaphore letters, then signal “Happy Birthday, Juliette!”
Coding was a useful skill to have even back then—Morse code, that is!
1912—To earn this badge, girls had to learn elementary electricity and be able to read and send Morse code.
When I look at these badges and their rigorous requirements, I can’t help but be amazed at the always future-facing vision of Juliette Gordon Low. Though the specific details might have changed over the years, the skills she taught girls then in 1912 are the same ones girls are building and mastering now in 2017.
Daisy, Daisy, we honor your memory true. We are Girl Scouts all because of you. We follow the path you started, and live the law you charted. We grow and grow, for Juliette Low, America’s proud of you.
Happy birthday, Juliette!
Lily Yu – Lily is a Volunteer Resource Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in comparative literature and Japanese from Hamilton College and has a background in publishing and advertising. In her free time, Lily enjoys going for long runs, reading, and spending time with her family (including her five-year-old daughter who’ll be a Daisy this year!).