We all know the Girl Scouts, maybe some of us were even a member once upon a time, or maybe we have daughters participating today. They are an American institution at this point and, despite any bending to contemporary social movements, they started out as a strong organization built on some core values.
Roughly 111 years ago, Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of the USA. Following in the footsteps of the Boy Scouts organization, Juliette established an all-girls scouting organization founded on building girls up, raising the next generation of leaders, and fostering an environment of exploration, adventure, self-sufficiency, and collaboration.
Juliette was born in 1860 and received her education in different private schools, eventually marrying William Mackay Low in 1886. The couple lived in England for many years until William passed away and Juliette met Boy Scouts founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, in 1912. She found her inspiration in both the values her parents instilled in her and Baden-Powell’s mission for the Boy Scouts. Gordon Low then returned to Savannah, Georgia and founded the Girl Scouts, originally known as the Girl Guides.
The first group of girls, mostly relatives and the daughters of friends, was sworn in and began their work learning to read maps, practicing first aid, cooking, and knot tying. Low also based her groups off the British Girl Guides’ system of awarding badges for skill proficiency and achievement.
Today, Juliette Gordon Low, is hardly mentioned on the Girl Scout’s website. But back in the day, she published How Girls Can Help Their Country: The First Original 1913 Handbook for Girl Scouts with the help of W.J. Hoxie, Agnes Baden-Powell, and Robert Baden-Powell. This book is filled with nuggets of womanly wisdom that helped found the beloved Girl Scouts. Here are our favorite five pieces of wisdom from Juliette Gordon Low.
“Wherever you go you will have the choice of good or bad reading, and as reading has such a lasting effect on the mind, you should try to read only good things.”
“Kipling, in Kim, says that there are two kinds of women,—one kind that builds men up, and the other that pulls men down; and there is no doubt as to where a Girl Scout should stand.”
“Be Strong. Have you ever stopped to think that your most constant companion throughout life will be yourself? You will always have this body, this mind, and this spirit that you call “I,” but this body, this mind, this spirit are constantly growing and changing, and it is quite possible for the owner to direct this growth and change. In order to live well, in order to possess the joy of life, and to be helpful to others, a Scout needs to apply her motto “Be prepared” to herself. Strength and beauty should be hers in body, mind, and spirit”
“If character training and learning citizenship are important for boys, how much more important it is that these principles should be instilled into the minds of girls who are destined to be the mothers and guides of the next generation.”
“Some time when you are grown up and have children of your own to bring up you will have to know what food to give them, how to look after their health, how to make them strong, and how to teach them to be good, hardworking, honorable citizens in our big growing country.
Almost every man you read of in history, who has risen to a high position, has been helped by his mother. We have had many great and good men and they were made great and good by their mothers.”