We Are Girl Scouts of the USA!

Juliette Gordon Low in 1923.

Juliette Gordon Low in 1923.


Today Girl Scouts celebrate their 102nd birthday. As a gift to our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, let’s resolve to call our movement by its correct name: Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

Because the Boy Scouts, a slightly older organization, are the “Boy Scouts of America” people assume that the Girl Scouts dutifully followed down the same footpath. If the boys are the BSA, then the girls must be GSA. Right? Wrong!

What’s in a Name?

Juliette Gordon Low fought hard for the right to use the name “Girl Scouts.” Lord Baden Powell, who founded the Boy Scouts, insisted the “scout” label was for boys only. He decreed that their sisters would be known as Girl Guides. Low called her first troops in the United States Girl Guides as well, but the girls declared that they wanted to be Scouts. She followed their lead and defended their choice.

Other groups staked claim to the scout name. Clara A. Lisetor-Lane organized a group called Girl Scouts of America in 1910, but it failed to gain a national following. That didn’t stop Lisetor-Lane from accusing Low of stealing her idea.

Rival claim from the Girl Scouts of America

Rival claim from the Girl Scouts of America

The biggest objection came from the Boy Scouts. BSA Chief James E. West was openly hostile to the notion of girls calling themselves Scouts, saying they “trivialized” and “sissified” the term. He helped launch the Camp Fire Girls as an alternative organization and threatened to sue Low for using the name “Scouts.”

Girl Scout leaders argued that they had an equal right to the name, especially after women won the right to vote in 1920. As national board member Caroline Slade explained,

Now that full citizenship has been extended to the women of this state, it seems to me essential that as girls they should learn that their responsibility for their country is equally as great as, if somewhat different from, that of the boys, and I believe there is no better way for them to learn to become good citizens than to learn to become the best kind of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Remember US

The difference between GSUSA and BSA is easy to remember: US.

The Boy Scouts have a long history of fighting to keep specific groups of people out of Scouting. At one time, that included girls and women—us.

Juliette Gordon Low and the other women who established Girl Scouting fought to give us an equal role as citizens of the United States, an equal responsibility to shape our futures, an equal opportunity to be self-sufficient, and an equal dose of “wholesome pleasures” such as camping, singing, and public service.

On this Girl Scout birthday, don’t forget to put the US in GSUSA to thank our past leaders for give US a place in Scouting.

Girl Scout History Book Released

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.

Arcadia front Cover

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.

Juliette Gordon Low Gets Another “Wax” Likeness

JGL AMC

Girl Scout CEO Anna Maria Chavez visits Juliette Gordon Low at Madame Tussaud’s museum.

Madame Tussaud’s museum isn’t the only place near Washington, DC, to see a lifelike image of Juliette Gordon Low.

Cadette Leah T. of Troop 5576 portrayed Juliette Gordon Low at the Greenbriar East Elementary School’s Wax Museum in late February.  The Fairfax County sixth grader wrote to the GSCNC Archives and History Committee, asking if she could borrow an appropriate uniform.  Naturally, we said, “Of course!”

Tyrell

Juliette Gordon Low at Greenbriar East Elementary

The Committee has uniforms from various decades and age levels that troops can borrow.  For the very earliest years of Girl Scouting, we have reproduction uniforms to lend.

Leah completed her Daisy look with a badge book, a strand of pearls, several boxes of Girl Scout cookies, and a small horse and dog to indicate Daisy’s love of animals.  She obviously has done her homework on our founder.

Update: April 2, 2014

Due to high demand, the Committee has revised its lending policy.  Please see the “Dress Like Daisy” page on this website.