Elk River troops headed to birthplace of Girl Scouting

by Jim Boyle
The birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouting, will be crawling with young girls and their troop leaders in May 2012.

They will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting in the picturesque town of Savannah, Ga. where Low — one of the most significant women of her time — got her start.

There will be activities, history lessons and tours. At least one Elk River Girl Scout troop won’t be there, however, as they will already be planning their next big adventure — in London.

An Elk River Girl Scout troop on a snowshoeing excursion this past winter. Some members of the group will be headed to Georgia this summer to visit the birthplace of Girl Scouting.

The girls in Kim Miller’s Elk River troop decided last year to make the journey to Savannah in 2011. They and members of four other troops are one fund-raiser away from make their plans a reality.  (They were at the county fair selling cookbooks and soon they will be doing a car wash.)

They plan to fill a coach bus with 33 girls, seven leaders and another eight scout moms on Aug. 25 and drive straight through to the landmark that was Georgia’s first addition to the National Register of Historic Places.

Miller admits it feels a little crazy to be taking a group of girls ages 11 to 15 cross country, but the challenge of the adventure is part of the appeal.

Miller says scouting for the girls in her troop has not been a gathering for girls to do crafts, but instead a chance for girls to discover who they are and what they can and might do in the future.

“For me it’s teaching them to try new things and to learn how to be confident, courageous and strong,” she told the Star News. “Girl Scouts is a place for girls to find out who they are and grow as an individual.”

She expects the trip will only accelerate this process, and it’s her hope that it will make it easier to retain Girl Scouts in the coming years. The girls in her troop are 11 and 12 years old, and there is already talk of traveling in three years to England to visit one of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts world center. (The others are in Mexico, Switzerland and India.) These places have hostels available for girls at a cost of $13 a night.

Miller foresees Juliette Gordon Low, who was known as Daisy as a child, being an inspiration to the girls.

As a teenager, Daisy formed her first organization, Helping Hands, and made clothing for the poor.

The girl was almost completely deaf, yet she never let her disability prevent her from accomplishing her goals.

The first official Girl Guide meeting in the United States was held on March 12, 1912.

This was after Gordon Low traveled to London to meet the founder of Boy Scouting and perhaps start something similar for girls.

There will be a dramatic reading of letters and diaries from the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace archives by Fran Harold and Katherine Keena at the 2012 anniversary celebrations.

The girls from Elk River will miss this. But they  will still soak up Savannah, known for “Forrest Gump,” ghosts, “Midnight Garden of Good and Evil” and the museum paying homage to Juliette Gordon Low.

They will take in a dolphin cruise off of Tybee Island to learn about beach life and turtles, too.

Other adventures await.

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