Girl Scouts Look Back 110 Years: 1960s

The 1960s began with a bang, as the Girl Scouts celebrated its 50th birthday in 1962.

New handbooks and uniform hats on the cover of the October 1963 Leader magazine.
Leader Magazine, October 1963

One year later, the organization dramatically reimagined age levels, badges, and more. The Intermediate age level split into Juniors and Cadettes in 1963. Intermediate level badges were divided between the two groups, with green borders for Juniors and gold borders for Cadettes.

For the first time in history, new handbooks for all levels were released at the same time. The new books featured a consistent design and were small enough to comfortably fit in a girl’s hand. (A second new-handbooks-for-everyone release came in 2011 with the current Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, which are the size of the average Daisy.)

Also in 1963, the small councils and Lone Troops in the greater Washington region combined to form the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. The council grew again in 2006 and 2009, adding Frederick County, Maryland, and parts of West Virginia and western Maryland.

Councils before 1963
Councils before 1963
Piper Debbie Reynolds leads a parade of uniformed Girl Scouts
Piper Debbie Reynolds

Actress Debbie Reynolds, an accomplished Girl Scout herself, led the multi-year Piper Project to recruit new members.

Travel opportunities flourished, as well. In 1968, GSUSA purchased 15,000 acres of rugged land in Wyoming to create the first Girl Scout National Center west of the Mississippi River. National Center West hosted thousands of girls for primitive camping, archaeology studies, and horseback opportunities until it closed in 1989.

Collection of yellow oval embroidered patches for the Girl Scout National Center West
National Center West patches from the Vintage GS Online Museum

The World Association for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts opened a fourth world center, Sangam, in Pune, India, in 1966. Traveling troops now had an Asian destination in addition to Our Chalet (Switzerland), Olave House (London), and Our Cabana (Mexico).

The 1969 National Council Session in Seattle, Washington, established the priorities for the 1970s. These included remaining a uniformed movement, creating a membership that reflected society, updating the Promise and Laws, and eliminating prejudice. The Council also approved an increase in annual membership dues, from $1 to $2.

History by Decade 1960s
History by Decade 1960s

©2022 Ann Robertson, writer, editor, and Girl Scout historian