We lost a true piece of GSCNC history last month, our council’s first president, Gertrude “Bobby” Lerch. What an incredible legacy she left for us.
Today, May 2, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival will crown its 2014 queen in Winchester, VA. In 1933 that honor went to a 23-year old Girl Scout leader, Françoise May.
Françoise was the eldest daughter of Paul May, the Belgian ambassador to the United States. She had been an active Girl Guide in Belgium, and when her father was posted to the United States in 1931, she immediately signed up with the Washington, DC, area Girl Scouts. She became captain (leader) of Troop 53, and the troop grew so large that it divided into 53 and 53A. Françoise became a popular speaker about the Girl Guides and a staff member for Camp May Flather. She was awarded the Thanks Badge for her efforts.
Her younger sisters, Ghislane and Elisabeth, also joined Troop 53.
The entire troop traveled to Winchester for the coronation ceremony.
Troop member Virginia Hammerley, who later joined the staff of the Girl Scouts of Washington, DC, kept detailed scrapbooks of Troop 53’s activities, including many clippings and items from the coronation of Queen Françoise. Her scrapbooks are in the archives of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital.
Ambassador May died suddenly in July 1934. When Françoise, her sisters, and their mother returned to Belgium, “Ginger” Hammerley succeeded her as troop captain.
Her touching farewell letter to the troop may be downloaded in its entirety by clicking here.
Just in time for the holidays, my new book, Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, was published on December 2, 2013. Retailing for $21.99, the book is available at the Nation’s Capital Girl Scout Shops, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.
The book shares 100 years of Girl Scout memories in the greater Washington, DC, region and commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. GSCNC was created in 1963 upon the merger of the Arlington, Alexandria, National Capital, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland councils.
Girl Scouting came to Washington, DC, in June 1913 when Juliette Gordon Low decided her new girls empowerment movement needed a national headquarters. Although the headquarters moved to New York City in 1916, the council in Washington, DC, is still actively involved in the programs. Girl Scouts of the Nations Capital includes some 200 photographs that will rekindle memories of making new friends, earning badges, spending summer nights at Camp May Flather, taking road trips to Rockwood, attending freezing inaugural parades, hiking along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, and participating in enormous sing-alongs around the Washington Monument.
There’s still time to see the latest exhibit from the GSCNC Archives and History Committee.
“Girl Scouts: Camping Is Our Bag” showcases vintage camping equipment.
Whether you’re shopping for a new uniform or taking a training class, next time you are at the GSCNC main office at 4301 Connecticut Ave., NW in Washington, check out the displays in the lobby!
What did the well-prepared Girl Scout bring to camp? Compare the Camp May Flather packing lists from 1930 and 1947: