Girl Scouts come full circle in 100 years
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By Kathy Place Girl Scout troop leader  November 30, 2012 12:00 am

This is the 100-year anniversary of Girl Scouts in the United States of America. Founder Juliette Gordon Low held the first meeting of Girl Guides of America on March 12, 1912 in Savannah, Ga.

The name Guides was changed to Scouts the following year. Low was introduced to the world of scouting and guiding through the founder of Boy Scouts, Sir Robert Baden Powell, and his sister, Agnes Baden Powell, while living in England. Girl guiding began in 1910 after the girls of Great Britain sought the same adventures as those available to the boys. Low started a Guide troop, in Scotland, in 1911 and brought the program to the girls of her own country with the vision of an international movement.

The Girl Scouts have come full circle this year. Eleven local adult and campus scouts traveled to the Centennial celebration of Guiding in Hampshire County, England, in 2010. Some members of the group had met sponsoring Guides while at Our Cabana, a world center for guiding and scouting, in 2008.
In 2010, they joined an encampment of 800 to celebrate Guiding’s Centennial . Friendships were solidified after a week of camping, activities and touring.

Plans were made for a reciprocal visit for Girl Guides to come to the North Coast to see their 11 American friends and meet the girls they work with. Thirty-one Girl Guides, ages 13-17, and nine adult chaperones visited for a week packed with activities at the end of October.

Representatives from Troops 10005, 10111, 10149 and 10165 holding American and United Kingdom flags met the visitors, in San Francisco. Girl Scouts from Marin and Sonoma Counties, to kick off the festivities for “Passport to the Past; A Day in 1912 and the Early Years,” welcomed the group with a dinner at Camp Bothin. The following day started with a bugle call to colors, and the uniform was that of 1912. . A “visit,” from Juliette Low and Lady Agnes Baden Powell promoted the feeling the spirit of the sisterhood of guiding and scouting is very much alive.

Throughout the day, girls participated in the activities of girls during Victorian times. A Marin Girl Scout, who began her Guide experience from the Portsmouth area where the girls were from, taught semaphoring. Making stretchers, tying knots and learning Morse Code, organized by Morse Code volunteers from Santa Rosa area, and relays from the time provided a day of fun as well as learning. The girls completed the requirements to become a “Tenderfoot” in 1912 and closed the day with a ceremony adapted to the times. Participants now could sew a badge from 100 years ago and place it on their uniforms, having completed specified requirements. New friendships and promises to go to England next came from the American girls, and English Guides exchanged promises to return to America along with traditional SWAPS.

The following week was a whirlwind of activities. There was a Native American presentation by the Becerra family, a local scout family from the Miwok and Hopi Tribes. The Guides entertained the Americans, with Morris dancing and involved the group as well. A tour of San Francisco by riding the Cable Car, touring and having lunch in Chinatown and riding the D.U.C.K.S. for a tour of San Francisco by land and water was one day. The next was a day bus tour by a professional guide, who was a Girl Scout, of course. The girls experienced the cold Pacific Ocean but did not seem to notice the temperature as being cold and walked the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kathy Place, committee chair, presented six girls who had completed their Baden Powell Challenge, similar to the Girl Scout Silver Award, with their pins after they crossed the bridge. All the visitors were presented with 75th anniversary pins and patches of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Halloween was not only a day in camp, but Low’s birthday. How fitting it was to have a tour with activities hosted at the camp’s Girl Scout Museum by Heritage members. The girls also carved pumpkins, did a photo scavenger hunt and attended a haunted house party courtesy of Santa Rosa Scouts, Dannie Del Secco and Cindy Crossen, members of Troop 10291.

The next day, the troop traveled to the Point Reyes National Seashore for a tour of Kule Loklo (Bear Valley) and the Earthquake Trail and of course, learned the history of Drake’s Bay, named after Sir Francis Drake.

The group proceeded to Guerneville for a walk in the Armstrong Redwood Grove before moving to Cloverleaf Ranch for two days. They enjoyed a great evening of an American barbeque and learned to square dance.

Local scouts also reunited with their new Guide friends for a fun evening.

On the following day, the group traveled through the beautiful Valley of the Moon to the town of Sonoma, where they had the chance to experience local history and were greeted by local Scouts. After lunch, they were surprised with a tour at Safari West, which was amazing for many. Local volunteers met the Guides and took them to the Santa Rosa Girl Scout Office for a dinner hosted by the staff, a campfire and singing. Memories of the week were exchanged, and although adventure activities were memorable, the new friendships and old ones renewed seemed to be the most special. Presentations were made to volunteers and special pins available to guests to commemorate their centennial visit. The Girl Guides presented the local council with a book on the “100 years of Girl Guiding.”

Additionally, Bill Place was presented the Guide Volunteer Thanks Badge and the committee chair, his wife Kathy, was given the sterling silver Guide Friendship pin from the Hampshire Guides.

Committee members, volunteers and local scouts all carry many memories with them. There were 50 volunteers who made this possible, as well by driving, working in the kitchen, shopping, cleanup and doing anything to help with a smile. The support of local businesses such as Clover-Stornetta, Cloverleaf Ranch, Marin Airporter, Safari West, The National Park Service, to mention a few, made this event a huge success.

Committee members were Debbie Bailey, Barbara Novak, and Place of Rohnert Park; Pat Paris of Forest Grove, Ore.; Carol Short of Sonoma; Jean and Randi Steele of Petaluma; Sandy Pete of Sebastopol; Leslie Stuart, recently of Santa Rosa; and Pat St. Clair of Santa Rosa. Key volunteers who assisted the committee were Ann Killeen , Joanie Wings and Karen Robinette of Rohnert Park . In the words of Low, “Ours is a circle of friendship, united by our ideals,” was a perfect way to describe this wonderful and historical week.

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