People often drop off donations for the council archives at my house. Usually it’s an old uniform piece or handbook, perhaps a pocketknife or handful of badges. I also have an enviable collection of random Girl Scout socks that regularly appear on my desk at the main office.
But buried inside the latest two boxes of musty, mildewed paper was a real treasure.
This hand-drawn paper scroll offers the camp report for 1960-1961. Think of it as an early PowerPoint. You unroll just enough paper to see the next illustration, then move to the next “slide.”
Each camp is listed separately, with attendance levels,
and property development detailed.
The delightful illustrations are hand-drawn with marker, and most of the draft pencil marks are still visible.
I have not measured the entire scroll, but it is at least 60 feet long.
The boxes came from the family of Anne Murray, who was on the National Capital Council Camp Committee in the late 1950s and early 1960s. (National Capital was one of five councils that merged to form Nation’s Capital in 1963).
The scroll will definitely have a featured place in the new Archives & History Program Center opening this fall.
Thank you Roxanne Beatty for arranging this donation!!
GSUSA recently announced the new Girls’ Choice outdoor-themed badges that will be available this fall. They are: Outdoor Adventure (Brownie), Horseback Riding (Junior), Archery (Cadette), Paddling (Senior), and Ultimate Recreation Challenge (Ambassador).
The results made me wonder what were the most popular badges of the past?
I used the sales figures reported in the 2005 edition of the Girl Scout Collector’s Guide by Mary Degenhardt and Judith Kirsch to find out. (I assume those numbers only go to 2004, and the book has not been updated.) The results are grouped into the Worlds to Explore Era (1980-1999) and post-Worlds to Explore, when the border colors changed but most of the designs did not.
As I’ve previously written, for Cadettes between 1963 and 1980, the clear winner was Social Dancer. Juniors in the same period, went for Troop Camper followed closely by Cook.
Brownie Try-Its were introduced in 1986 with 15 awards. They program was a huge hit, so additional Try-Its were added in 1989, 1993, and 1997. That makes it hard to compare overall totals, since some were available for more years than others. (Some names changed along the way, too.)
The top five were Girl Scout Ways (5.8 million), Playing Around the World (4.2 million), Food Fun/Make It, Eat It (3.8 million), Making Music (3.6 million), and Dance/Dancercize (3.6 million). The top outdoor-themed Try-It ranked seventh: Outdoor Fun/Eco-Explorer, with 3.2 million.
The Worlds to Explore program, introduced in 1980, divided badges into five categories. Badges for each category had a specific border color: Arts (purple), Out-of-Doors (yellow), People (blue), Today and Tomorrow (orange), and Well-Being (red). Four of the top five Junior badges were from the World of the Out-of-Doors:
The all-time favorite of Juniors in the 1980s and 1990s was First Aid, with nearly 3 million sold. Followed close behind were Troop Camper (2.9 million; the design changed in 1990); Horse Lover (1.8 million), Swimming (1.4 million), and Wildlife (1.4 million).
Cadettes & Seniors: 1980-2004
Cadettes and Seniors were a remarkably consistent group, with nearly identical results in both time periods.
Under Worlds to Explore (1980-1996), teens chose Fashion, Fitness, and Makeup (301,391; it had a purple border its first year), Creative Cooking (262,163), Camping (204,851), Games (167,056), and Child Care (160,052).
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the favorites were Cookies and Dough (153,989), Creative Cooking (111,638), From Fitness to Fashion (97,469), Camping (93,923), and Child Care (86,509).
Juniors of the early twenty-first century were evidently a patriotic group, interested in good grooming, and still happy to go camping.
Top selling Junior badges were Cookie Connection (290,165), Looking Your Best (198,647), Girl Scouting in the USA (197,634), United We Stand (186,761), and Camp Together (171,069). Past favorites remained popular, including First Aid (6th), Horse Fan (11th), Outdoor Fun (12th), and Outdoor Cook (13th).
I was surprised at how popular United We Stand was. It was part of the trio of badges, including Wave the Flag for Brownies and American Patriotism for Cadettes and Seniors, issued following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. These three were not included in the handbooks; leaders had to download the requirements themselves.
Brownies at the turn of the century also stuck with some favorite topics, including Cookies Count (1.6 million), Girl Scout Ways (1.55 million), Manners (1.2 million), Art to Wear (1.17 million), and Caring and Sharing (1.08 million)..
Cookie-themed awarded topped all three post-Worlds to Explore badge categories.
Top of the Charts
Drumroll, please, the most popular Girl Scout badges between 1963 and 2004 were:
I just finished reading a delightful book, Empty Mansionsby Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., and was surprised to find it had a Girl Scout connection.
The book tells the life story of Huguette Clark, one of America’s wealthiest women, who died in 2011 at age 104. Huguette was decidedly eccentric. She was rarely seen in public, never met face-to-face with the lawyers, accountants, and household staff that she employed for decades, and spent the last 20 years of her life living in a hospital room, despite being quite healthy. She married briefly — it lasted barely a year — and never had children of her own. Her father, copper and railroad baron W.A. Clark, was nearly 70 years old when she was born and had five children from his first marriage. However, she insisted she had a contented life, filled with painting, music, developing exquisite dollhouses for her huge antique doll collection, and sharing her wealth with a variety of charities and friends.
She left an estate of $300 million that triggered a huge rush for treasure among her far-flung relatives, lawyers, accountants, and private nurses. Clark also left three luxury apartments (42 rooms) on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan; Bellosguardo, a 22,000 square foot estate in Santa Barbara that was kept staffed and ready for a visit at 48 hours’ notice, although she hadn’t been there since the 1950s; and Le Beau Chateau, a 42-room mansion in New Canaan, CT, that she never bothered to furnish, much less visit.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington also became ensnared in the complicated estate. Huguette and her father both were patrons of the gallery and serious art collectors. Clark left his enormous collection to the Corcoran upon his death. She left a portion of her estate to the Corcoran as well as the proceeds ($24 million) of the auction of Claude Monet’s Nympheas water lilies painting, which had hung in her home since 1926.
What is the Girl Scout connection?
I bought the book while I was in New York doing research at GSUSA. This was during the great blizzard of January 2015 and with all the dire warnings of lost power, I realized I had no actual book with me. If my computer lost power, I would be bored silly in my hotel room. I left GSUSA and walked up Fifth Avenue to a Barnes and Noble, where I purchased Empty Mansions. Little did I know that I had passed Huguette’s apartment building at 907 Fifth Avenue and came near the site of her childhood home at 77th Street and Fifth Avenue.
Pretty weak Girl Scout ties so far, right?
But perhaps you are familiar with Huguette’s older sister, Andrée Clark? As in Camp Andrée Clark, the first national Girl Scout camp?
It is the very same girl. As the story goes, Andrée was a quiet and withdrawn girl who joined the Girl Scouts. She’d had a hard time adapting to New York after living in Paris for many years. When she died a tragic death just shy of age 17, her parents read her diary and discovered how much Andrée loved her troop and the friends and activities it offered. In her memory, Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Huguette donated 135 acres of land in Briarcliff Manor, NY, for a camp.
As for Huguette, she never joined the Girl Scouts, and the biography does not explain why. Perhaps her life would have taken a different turn had she been a Girl Scout.
For more about Huguette and photos of her homes and artwork, see the ongoing series of articles by NBCor the book’s website.
I certainly do! I grew up in Paducah, Kentucky, the headquarters of the council. I joined Bear Creek council as a Brownie in 1973.
Five years later, in 1978, the Bear Creek, Caveland, Pennyroyal, and Kentuckiana councils merged into one large council, Kentuckiana. My Cadette troop took a spring break trip to Louisville soon after and camped out in the loft of the council’s main office at 730 West Main St. While most of my troop spent summers as staff at nearby Camp Bear Creek, I worked at day camps and the field office in Paducah.
Flash forward several decades…..I found a copy of the 1951 GSUSA Annual Report to Congress recently and was thumbing through it. I was stunned to find a page devoted to Paducah and Bear Creek Council!
According to the report, the federal government had defined 277 “critical defense areas”; that is, regions where a sudden, massive influx of new residents working in the defense industry had overburdened the local infrastructure. Shortages were everywhere: housing, classrooms, sanitation, health care, milk, day care for working mothers, and recreation. Paducah made the list as it was the home of a new $505 million atomic energy plant.
GSUSA noted that one of its main challenges in 1951 was bringing Girl Scouting to girls living in such crowded conditions. The report highlighted efforts in four areas: San Diego, Colorado Springs, Savannah River, and Paducah, Kentucky, where the population had suddenly doubled:
One of the largest critical areas is that centering on Paducah, Ky. … By November 1951, some 20,000 workers and their families had moved into the area. Schools were overflowing, living quarters were at a premium, and workers were commuting from 100 miles away.
To provide desperately needed recreation services for these families, GSUSA merged the Paducah and nearby Mayfield councils, as well as lone troops from seven surrounding counties, creating Bear Creek Council. Girl Scout professionals were busy organizing troops and training leaders for the teeming population.
The impact of the plant on Paducah was not news to me. Growing up, I knew of numerous neighborhoods, schools, stores, churches and more that dated to “the boom.” Many of my friends’ parents worked at “the plant.” And, since my father is Paducah’s unofficial historian, I’d heard plenty about the plant over the dinner table, too.
But the connection between the plant and the Girl Scouts was new to me.
The Paducah gaseous diffusion plant and the better-known Oak Ridge, TN, plant were part of the same project. I know the Tanasi (now Southern Appalachia) council did badge and patch programs related to their plant, I don’t believe the same was done for the Paducah plant. Perhaps it’s time to write one!
We all know about cookie patches and profits, but what other prizes come with cookie sales?
To earn their Museum Discovery Interest Project (an old teen badge), my troop of Seniors and Ambassadors created the new exhibit at the Nation’s Council’s main office. They decided to focus on four types of cookie awards: to girls, to adult volunteers, to councils, and to the entire Girl Scout movement.
The girls visited the council storage facility to select items from the council collection, searched their own rooms, borrowed from older and younger sisters, contacted one of the council’s top 100 sellers, and sorted through items loaned by members of the council Archives and History Committee. I loaned a few items, such as mugs from when I was a troop cookie manager in the dark ages, and the girls made thorough use of my cookie patch collection, too.
They came up with a wonderful assortment of patches and stuffed animals (naturally), but also puppets, t-shirts, dolls, mugs, and jewelry. They included a plaque of appreciation presented to Nation’s Capital by Little Brownie Bakers, as well as an old Weston Bakery box and photo of Weston Lodge from Rockwood National Center. In the early 1950s, W. Garfield Weston gave $25,000 to kick-start a $200,000 expansion program for the national camp.
Installing the exhibit down at council on a Saturday, the set up team met the council’s product sales manager, who gave them an insider view on the process. They discovered that Nation’s Capital did not offer the adorable puppy hat from 2006—but decided it was too cute to leave out. They also learned that the pewter animal prizes (and every girl in the troop seemed to still have at least one) were actually not real pewter. What’s more, when they were discontinued, the girls didn’t complain—but parents did!
The display will remain in the lobby of the council main office at 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW through March.
I have the greatest troop of Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts.
They are unfailingly kind, generous, smart, funny, and always willing to be guinea pigs in whatever crazy scheme I come up with.
Over the years we’ve rung in the New Year with movie marathons at our local camp, gone to DC Roller Girls matches, walked the length of the National Mall on the hottest day of the year, debated proper attire for vampires, and collected nearly 200 bras for victims of domestic violence. They have gamely tried out possible activities for my patch programs about princesses, Barbies, and the Hunger Games.
Since I became chair of the Nation’s Capital Archives and History Committee in 2012, they have become Girl Scout historians, too. They have visited local sites with Girl Scout history ties, such as Peirce Mill and Rockwood Manor. They spent one meeting arranging a suitcase full of old teen uniforms in chronological order and critiquing the style and fabric. Last year, over winter break, a group dismantled, relocated, and reassembled the Committee’s storage area when the council headquarters received new carpet.
Yesterday, I took a carload of girls to the warehouse in Northeast Washington, DC, where the majority of our collection is housed. Our two storage units are packed to the brim, so I limited the trip to four girls. Would you believe I had a waiting list? Let’s review: I had teenage girls on winter break clamoring to go to a warehouse. A warehouse!
We spent about two hours at the warehouse, carrying out several missions. I had old Leader magazines to return and needed to borrow some Rockwood materials for research. We also had a request requiring some old camp uniforms and a roundup hat, so we located those and talked about what roundups were.
Our main goal was to locate items for an upcoming display about cookie patches and prizes over the years. The girls are working on the old Museum Discovery Interest Project, and the display will satisfy some of those requirements. But there’s more to the cookie display project than just earning a badge.
Next year Nation’s Capital will open a dedicated history program center at a former field office in Frederick, Maryland. I am beyond excited by the prospect of permanent displays and being able to better share our collection with our members and the community.
We’re still working out what types of programs will be offered in Frederick, but I hope there will be a mix of “for girls” and “by girls” on the menu. I visited the First Headquarters in Savannah last summer and was so impressed that teens from the Historic Georgia Council work at the museum and lead most of the programs. I would love to implement a similar model for Nation’s Capital, perhaps even creating a History Program Aide specialty.
Working with my own troop has confirmed that, with proper instruction, girls can handle artifacts appropriately and responsibly. I try to reinforce with my girls that there is a huge, wonderful world of Girl Scouting out there beyond our troop. They enjoy seeing how they fit into our timeline, discovering what has changed and what has stayed the same.
Above all, they prove that Girl Scouts want to learn more about Girl Scout history. I can’t wait to give them and other troops that opportunity.
As 2014 draws to an end, we celebrate the 30th birthday of the Daisy Girl Scout program.
In October 1984, kindergarteners joined their older sisters as the newest Girl Scouts. The new Girl Scout Leadership Experience, implemented in 2008, regrouped age levels and made Daisies a two-year program, for kindergarteners and first graders.
Daisies are, of course, named for Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouting. “Daisy” was Juliette’s childhood nickname. But when the new program was tested by over 70 councils across the United States, the proposed name was “Pixies.”
The Daisy program has grown considerably over the years. The first Daisies received a scrapbook to record her experiences and activities. She carried her scrapbook in a clear plastic pouch and saved room in the scrapbook for certificates marking the beginning and end of her Daisy year.
Daisies always had their own membership pin, but they did not earn recognitions for nearly a decade. The Bridge to Brownie patch was introduced in 1993, petals in 2000, and leaves in 2011.
The Daisy uniform has evolved from a simple blue tunic to range of options including shirts, shorts, leggings, hats, and a vest plus a closet-ful of unofficial fun wear.
Drop by the GSCNC Main Office at 4301 Connecticut Ave. NW and check out the delightful world of Daisies!
This display was inspired by a question in the “Ask It Basket” at the August Kick-off. Do you have an idea for a display? Let me know!
This week I had the pleasure of meeting Frances A. Randall, a true pioneer of Girl Scouting in Frederick County, Maryland.
Frannie, who just turned 90 years young, joined Frederick’s Troop 5 in 1938 and has been involved non-stop since then.
I enjoyed telling her about Nation’s Capital’s plans for a Girl Scout history program center in Frederick and brought several old scrapbooks for her to look through.
We spent the afternoon swapping stories about troops, camping, council mergers, National Center West, writing books about local history, and trips to Russia. We also compared notes about attending Girl Scout National Conventions in Houston, TX, in 1981 (Frannie) and 2011 (me).
We agreed to get together again in a few weeks with the right equipment to capture her wonderful memories and stories about Girl Scouting in Frederick County.