Next Monday marks the 100th birthday of the Girl Scouts organization. Great Bend Girl Scouts will wrap up their annual cookie sale on Sunday, and will celebrate the century milestone on Monday evening with a public event for all past and present Girl Scouts and leaders.
The birthday celebration will take place from 6-7 p.m. on the south end of the courthouse square, said Larissa Graham, area service manager for the Girl Scouts. There will be birthday cakes decorated by Girl Scouts, screen projector music with the Girl Scout song "Ignite," and several surprises during the evening, Graham said.
"We’re going to do some special ‘100’ activities," she said. "Mayor Mike Allison has proclaimed March 12 as Girl Scout Day in Great Bend."
Great Bend has eight Girl Scout troops for girls in grades K through 12. Senior Ambassadors have worked on community service projects this year, such as helping the Military Moms prepare care packages for troops deployed overseas. Troop 20210 created a display about recycling that is in the window of the Barton County Arts Center this month.
This week, Cadets in Troop 20293, made up of seventh and eighth graders, brought their uniforms up to date by adding badges and other patches to their tan-colored sashes. Most of the patches are the iron-on variety, so Graham, the troop coleader, set up two irons for the girls to use.
Malia Clarke, an eighth grader, talked about some of the patches the girls could earn. Those who worked on the badge for baby-sitters faced a "job interview" with mothers who actually hire baby-sitters, she said. For the badge known as the "CSI patch," Girl Scouts visited the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. "They polygraphed one of the girls in our troop," she said.
All of the girls in Troop 20293 have a 100th birthday patch to add to their uniforms, and they’ve also earned the "Birthday in a Bag" badge, for participating in a project that originated in Wichita. They assembled 15 bags that have everything needed to throw a birthday party — from the cake mix and cake pan to the invitations and candles — and donated them to the Barton County Food Bank, Graham said. Troops across the nation are now doing this Scouts of Kansas Heartland project and earning this badge, which shows Girl Scout founder Juliette Low and the dates 1912 - 2012.
Scouts who are working on the long-term Silver Award have logged even more hours of community service. Last May they helped add plants to a butterfly garden at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. They weeded the garden during the summer, and helped tag Monarch butterflies in September.
Today’s Girl Scouts got their start after founder Juliette Gordon Low of Savannah, Ga., met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, in England in 1911, and became interested in the new youth movement. According to Low’s biography at www.GirlScouts.org, she returned to the United States and placed a telephone call to cousin, saying, "I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!"
"In developing the Girl Scout movement in the United States, Juliette brought girls of all backgrounds into the out-of-doors, giving them the opportunity to develop self-reliance and resourcefulness. She encouraged girls to prepare not only for traditional homemaking, but also for possible future roles as professional women — in the arts, sciences and business — and for active citizenship outside the home. Girl Scouting welcomed girls with disabilities at a time when they were excluded from many other activities. This idea seemed quite natural to Juliette, who never let deafness, back problems or cancer keep her from full participation in life.
"From the original 18 girls, Girl Scouting has grown to 3.7 million members. Girl Scouts is the largest educational organization for girls in the world and has influenced the more than 50 million girls, women and men who have belonged to it."