Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts!

Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts!

In honor of our birthday, I thought I would share excerpt from my book that tells how Page Anderson learned that she would became one of the first Girl Scouts in Savannah... in her own words:

In March 1912, twelve-year-old Page Anderson of Savannah, Georgia, joined her mother and grandmother as they served tea to their guest, Mrs. Juliette Low. Page watched as Low enthusiastically tried to tie knots in a piece of leather she carried with her and listened with polite interest as “Mrs. Low explained that the Girl Guides in England under Lady [Agnes] Baden-Powell were learning what their brothers in [Scouts]
had been taught by Sir Robert”.

Page recalled, “The next day in the churchyard Mrs. Low buttonholed my mother and said ‘Now look here... I intend to start the Girl Guides in this country and I want you to be the first Captain and get Page and her friends to make up your Troop.”

 Page’s mother agreed. After all, Juliette Low “was a Gordon...and didn’t take no for an answer.”
from Oceans Apart:  American Girl Guides 1912 - 1915
- Dr Deborah Lafferty

Page Anderson became a member of the White Roses, who first met on 12 March 1912. Her mother became her leader (called a Captain in those days).

Did you know? There was a film documentary made in the 1984 with the surviving members of those first patrols. In their interviews, they told all about the first meeting and the things they did when they became Girl Scouts.

Why March 12th? In the documentary, charter member Marion Corbin Aslakson explained the date was chosen because it was the tenth birthday of Florence Crane, niece and ward of Nina Pape, Juliette Low's cousin. To be a Girl Guide in those days, you had to be 10 years old to join and Miss Pape wanted her niece to be a part of it all so they set the date so she could.

Article about Marion Corbin Aslakson
Member of the White Rose Troop, 1912

The early Girl Scout troops were only the size of our patrols, six to eight girls. As it turns out, it was the perfect size to play the new game that was all the rage for girls in 1912: Basketball!

Juliette Low had a basketball court set up near the girl's meeting place, complete with a curtain around the fenced sides to preserve the girls' modesty.

Girl Scout First Headquarters
Savannah, Georgia

Juliette Low soon had to return to England but she left the girls in the capable hands of Edith Johnston. It was Mrs Johnston's idea to organize a basketball league and tournament for the Girl Scouts. The prize was a small trophy cup. The girls were very enthusiastic and started recruiting the best players around Savannah to be in their troop so they could win. The Savannah newspapers reported every game and kept tally of the top teams. The best part of the basketball tournament was that the numbers of girls joining started growing very fast.

1912 girls' basketball team

By the way, it was the Red Rose Troop who won the basketball tournament with the Forget-Me-Not Troop coming in a close second.

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