South Charlotte

Mecklenburg will help Girl Scouts celebrate 100th anniversary

Life was different a century ago. When girls wanted to play basketball, there was no place to play. No school hoops for them, no leagues, no sanctioned game.

So Juliette Gordon Low set up a makeshift court in her back yard and invited the girls, dressed in bloomers, to shoot baskets. It was 1912, and this was a Girl Scout activity.

Low had a vision to help young women move forward. She believed all girls could benefit from outdoor experiences. She wanted to encourage young women to be resourceful problem-solvers.

Juliette was born Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon, the second of six children in a prominent family in Savannah, Ga. According to New World encyclopedia, her father was a confederate captain in the Civil War and a descendant of early settlers of Savannah.

She married William Mackay "Willy" Low, the son of a wealthy cotton merchant in Savannah. Even before her husband's death in the early 1900's, Juliette was searching for something meaningful to do with her life.

On March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low gathered 18 girls in Savannah, to register the first troop of American Girl Guides. The name of the organization was changed from American Girl Guides to Girl Scouts in 1913.

This year, Girl Scouts across America celebrate the 100th anniversary of its scouting program.

Many candlelight ceremonies are planned for March 11. One is scheduled for Stumptown Park in Matthews at 7 p.m.

Senior and Caddette Girl Scouts from Troop 3033 - South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church - will present each of the 10 decades of the 100 years. Brownie Troop 1737 will hold the decade signs.

More than 50 million women in the United States are Girl Scout alumnae. While the face of the program has changed , the goals are the same: to prepare young women for meaningful careers and community involvement.

Katherine Lambert, 38, executive vice president of the Girl Scouts Hornets' Nest Council, says she has never stopped being a Girl Scout.

"As an adult looking back, I can say most of my leadership skills and abilities can be attributed to lessons learned in scouting," she said. "The opportunities I had growing up as a Girl Scout were radically different from non-Girl Scouts."

Angie Holland, an 18-year-old senior at Union County Early College High School, agrees.

Angie, who joined the scouting experience as a "Daisy" in kindergarten, has earned the bronze, silver and gold awards. She loves to travel and through the scouting program, has crossed the US. She has been to London, Paris, Switzerland and this summer will go to Costa Rica.

"It has increased my leadership skills," she said. "I can stand before people and encourage them to achieve common goals."

Angie's sister, Aly, 15, and also a student at Union County Early College High School, says the things the scouts do are fun, and enjoyable. Angie also loves to travel and especially enjoyed Switzerland.

"Sometimes it's hard to raise the money for the trips we take," she said. "We've hosted camping activities and assisted with events for younger scouts."

The council provides many opportunities for the girls to earn money to fund their trips.

Cookie sales help. A special Girl Scout lemon cookie called "Savannah Smiles" has been introduced to commemorate the 100th year. The new logo for cookie sales reads "Every Cookie Has a Mission: to help girls do great things."

Many scouts will take part in the 100th Anniversary Challenge where troupes will plant 100 trees or spend 100 minutes cleaning up a park or stream bed or create their own "100 challenge."

In June, Girls Scouts and leaders from Meck 13 will join Girl Scouts from all over the USA in Washington, DC to participate in "Rock the Mall" a 100th Anniversary sing-along at the National Mall. Commemorative events will be planned throughout the year.

On March 11, the local girl scouts will watch the sun set on the first 100 years of girl scouting in the US. They look forward to carrying their light into the next 100 years.