Founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912, the first Girl Scouts troop meeting took place in Savannah, GA with 18 girls. Low wanted to create an organization that would allow girls to leave their homes and serve their communities, experience the outdoors, and give them the opportunity to develop “self-reliance and resourcefulness.” Their name was the “Girl Guides.”
The Original Girl Scout Law Written by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912:
- A Girl Scout's honor is to be trusted
- A Girl Scout is loyal
- A Girl Scout's duty is to be useful and to help others
- A Girl Scout is a friend to all, and a sister to every other girl scout no matter to what social class she may belong
- A Girl Scout is courteous
- A Girl Scout keeps herself pure
- A Girl Scout is a friend to animals
- A Girl Scout obeys orders
- A Girl Scout is cheerful
- A Girl Scout is thrifty
Low tried to merge the Girl Guides with the Camp Fire Girls and the Girl Scouts of America (founded by Clara Lisetor-Lane) but was rejected by both organizations. In 1913, the Girl Guides changed their name to Girl Scouts of the United States and moved its headquarters from Savannah to Washington DC. In 1915, the Girl Scouts of America was incorporated by the federal government and moved its headquarters, again, to NYC. They changed their name again in 1947 to Girl Scouts of the United States of America and was given congressional charter in 1950.
With only 18 members at its inception, by 1920 there were nearly 70,000 members. By 1923, there were branches in every state and territories, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico with over 125,000 members.
During World War II when Japanese-Americans were confined in internment camps, Girl Scout troops were organized and many of the girls who were in these camps participated in activities. During segregation in the United States, most troops were also segregated depending on local laws and customs. The first African American troop was established in 1917; the first American Indian troop was formed in 1921; and the first troop for Mexican Americans in 1922. By the 1950s, the Girl Scouts took considerable measures to desegregate their troops and maintain racial balance. Martin Luther King, Jr. even described the Girls Scouts as “a force for desegregation.”
Originally, the Girl Scouts were for girls aged 10 to 18 and divided into three levels: Brownies (ages 7-9), Intermediates (10-13), and Seniors (14-18). Today the levels are arranged by grade levels, not ages. Daisies are kindergarten through first grade, Brownies are 2nd and 3rd graders, Juniors are grades 4-5, Cadettes are for girls in middle school (or grades 6-8), Seniors are grades 10-11, and Ambassadors are 11th and 12 graders.
The foundation of the program is built on the Girl Scouts Leadership Experience, where their members gain certain skills such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills, outdoor skills, life skills, and entrepreneurship skills. There are five key ways that being a Girl Scout help girls thrive in: (1) developing a strong sense of self, (2) displaying positive values, (3) seeking challenges and learning from setbacks, (4) forming and maintaining healthy relationships, and (5) learning to identify and solve problems in her community.
The Girl Scouts were also founded as an organization that does not endorse or promote any particular religion. They are a nonsectarian movement that is founded on American democratic principles, such as freedom of religion.
Girl Scout Sign:
Holding up the three middle fingers of the right hand.
Girl Scout Promise:
On my honor, I will try
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law
Girl Scout Law:
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Girl Scout Motto:
Girl Scout Slogan:
Do a good turn daily.
Famous Girl Scouts:
Lucille Ball, Katie Couric, Venus Williams, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Nancy Reagan, Dionne Warwick, Madeleine Albright, Barbara Walters, Grace Kelly, Laura Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Christa McAuliffe, Sally Ride, Lynda Carter, Celine Dion, Carrie Fisher, Mary Tyler Moore