Troop 606 – Leave: July 28, 1991, 8:30 a.m. from Mrs. Caragher’s House 

<strong>Troop 606 – Leave: July 28, 1991, 8:30 a.m. from Mrs. Caragher’s House </strong>

By Chris Caragher, Girl Scout Historian

After years of being a Girl Scout troop leader for Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes, I yearned to visit the birthplace of Girl Scouting, Savannah, Georgia. I viewed that as the ultimate pilgrimage to our founder’s home and, by extension, the birthplace of my Downers Grove-based Cadette Troop 606. It was the girls’ last year in this troop as they were faced with the decision to move on to a long-standing Senior Girl Scout troop, a “Mariner troop,” known as Ship 167, or end their active membership as they started high school.  

At our meeting, we decided the trip would be a great idea, and we had enough cookie money in the bank to do it! 

The troop applied for a date, as required by the birthplace, and chose a “high tea” program and house tour. Our reservation was for August 1, 1991. Now, all we had to do was to figure out the transportation costs, logistics, and the care and feeding of each member. Our troop loved camping and had been on short trips to Mackinac Island and Wisconsin and used Camp Greene Wood often, even in the winter, but this was much bigger! So, I called an airline. Tickets to fly would take all our cookie money plus more! We had to figure out another way. 

My co-leader, Ginger, and I wondered if we could drive to Savannah, so we thought we’d check with the parents.  We knew that we had parents who owned vans. We asked, and two dads volunteered, but they would need gas reimbursement  to drive and would go for free. We calculated the miles, cost of gas, food, and activities.  

At that time, the birthplace provided a booklet called Birthplace Bound.It had ads for accommodations, restaurants, local attractions, and some discount admission coupons for Girl Scouts. I called the hotels recommended for Girl Scouts and got a special Girl Scout rate reservation at Budget Inn.  

The trip down to Savannah would take time, so we decided to leave early to do some activities on the way down and some on the way back; it turned into a 10-day trip. It was like a family vacation. We had snacks, drinks, games, camping equipment, luggage, and uniforms in each van.  

The itinerary as told by a Girl Scout:    

7/28 We visited the Kentucky Derby Museum and toured Churchill Downs. Afterward, we drove to Cave City, tent camped and cooked at Mammoth Cave National Park. 

7/29 Mammoth Cave Tour and lunch in their cafeteria, then departed to Indian Springs State Park near Macon, GA, where we visited the Historic District. When we arrived at the campground at 7 p.m., we discovered we had lost our campsite for being late, so we just found a long stretch of grass, set up our tents in a single line, and shared a fire with the friendly campers next door. We made a snack and settled into our tents. After breakfast in the morning, we waded in the creek before we left. 

7/30 We visited the Macon Historic District and a trinket store tourist trap, then drove to Savannah, GA, through a torrential rainstorm and arrived at a flooded Savannah. As troop leader, I was elected to wade through the water to check in to the Budget Inn, 3702 Ogeechee Rd., Savannah. It was an old, one-story motel with outside doors looking nothing like the ad in the Birthplace Bound booklet, but it was clean enough and turned out to be safe. The promised swimming pool was out of order and filled with rainwater, but we went swimming at one of the owner’s other properties. We ate at a real sit-down restaurant and ordered off the menu! Thank goodness! 

7/31 Toured the Savannah Visitor Center, the Savannah Experience, and the Ships at Sea Museum. We walked along the ocean, visited the Andrew Low House and other mansions, learned about the city’s squares, had fun, ate popcorn, shopped for souvenirs, saw a movie about Juliette Low and her childhood, and more. We walked ’til we dropped and ate out, but not at the famous restaurant everyone else was eating at. It was way too long of a wait time for hungry girls! 

8/1 Birthplace Day! – JULIETTE LOW DAY AT HER HOUSE! We had a lovely tour and took pictures. Saw all the rooms, including her bedroom and the old library. We went to the garden and learned all about JGL, her art, her wedding, the history behind the birthplace, and some things about the Civil War. We saw the real oil painting of Juliette Low in her pink party dress hanging in the living room. The docent answered all our questions. Then it was time for our activity program in the basement. We did a project to learn about the Girl Scout history of helping others and interacted with another troop that had signed up to try-on dresses that girls and women might have worn in JGL’s time. We invited the “dress girls” to our tea party.We had fun. Then we went to the gift shop for souvenirs. We all got a Birthplace Pin with a Daisy on it. Our precious spending allowance was also used, so everyone could bring home a keepsake. 

One of our troop’s favorite fun songs was Boom Chica Boom.We came up with new lyrics that didn’t really fit the tune but went like this:  

I said a Boom Chica Boom – a little bit Southern Style: 

“So down to Savannah we went, I said a Boom Chica Boom, 

Little did we know that the Budget Inn, I said a Boom Chica Boom!  

Would be only a little better than a TENT, 

I said a Boom Chica Rocka Chica Rocka Chica Boom!” 

8/2 We started heading home but not stopping the fun. We made our way north to Stone Mountain. This was a place where a large bare rock was carved to show the Confederate Generals. Although we were mostly Northerners, it was interesting to see and part of our country’s history. We stayed in the beautiful campground behind the rock. It was a lovely place. At night, a laser light show reflected off the rock carving and special effects to make it look like the generals were actually riding their horses across. It was kind of like a fireworks show. Very cool. We had a good time, and I shared with the girls that my maternal grandfather, Josepha Bouska, who had been a stone cutter in Chicago, was one of the cutters hired to work on carving the rock.  

I bought a book with a picture of all the stone carvers in a big group. I told the girls I could not figure out which one was my grandfather, but I wanted it anyway. 

8/3 We went home a different way through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We stayed at the Tanglewood KOA Swannanoa, North Carolina, near Ashville, which had a swimming pool! It had a big hall in a red building with screens all around, but no windows. We visited the National Park Shop and signed up to learn horseback riding. We had hoped to do this activity while planning the trip, so we packed the helmets. We learned how to lead a horse, not be scared of the horse, and we went on a trail ride. Then we brushed the horses and helped put them in the stable. It was great! There were many water activities around the area as well. Although we could not do the tubing activity because no lifeguard was going down the stream with the group. We still interacted with the water at the edges of the stream and got very wet. This area was beautiful to drive through.  

8/4 Driving home through Indiana, it got to be late, so we decided not to camp. We found a nice hotel and a restaurant for a late dinner and collapsed from all the vacation activity.  

8/5 Arrived back home. We called our moms to let them know we were home. We cleaned out the vans and gave them a car wash to thank the drivers. We had a little goodbye ceremony on the front lawn. It was not only the end of the trip but the last thing for our beloved Troop 606, as we disbanded with hugs and tears all around. 

Fall Products and Collectible Tins  

Girl Scouts have been selling calendars in the fall since the 1940’s. The calendars that were sold had themes for the different years and came in wall size and pocket size. As more people move away from the use of paper calendars and use calendars on their phones or tablets the need for paper calendars has decreased. To give girls and their troops another way to earn money Girl Scouts started selling candy and nut items and QSP magazines subscriptions. 

Girl Scouts have used two companies to supply the items for their Fall Product Program sales: Ashdon Farms and Trophy Nut, which is in its 30th year working with Girl Scout councils as a GSUSA approved supplier. 

The sale is held in the fall just in time for the holiday season.  Each year, there is a Girl Scout inspired tin and a winter scene/seasonal tin which many people collect, or gift, these tins are filled with candy or nuts.  The tins make great keepsakes.  The Girl Scout tins are perfect to use for setting up Girl Scout displays in libraries and other events, or as a place to keep your Girl Scout Memorabilia. 

Some examples of GS inspired tins are camping tins, such as a GS wicker backpack tin, a GS camera, 

and a GS metal tote bag for going places.   

In 2017, Ashdon Farms offered a replica tin with 1920’s camping scenes on the tin. There were tins shaped like Girl Scout books, a flowerpot from Ashdon Farms labeled “Helping Girls Grow,” and even tins shaped like Girl Scout uniforms of the past.  

For three consecutive years, there were tins that had different versions of the Girl Scout promise, each one from years when the Girl Scout promise was changed. In 2008, Trophy Nut had a tin labeled “Make New Friends.” 

Tins were also issued for special anniversary years in Girl Scouts.  For the new millennium in 2000 the tin was “Girl Scouts: Where Girls Grow Strong.”  In 2005, Trophy Nut had a tin of Juliette Gordon Lowe’s Birthplace, a National Historic Landmark and the headquarters for Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia.  For the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts, Trophy Nut had a green, round tin labeled 1912-2012. 

Collectible Girl Scout tins were also available from some of the Girl Scout Cookie Bakers: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers. They were made in anniversary years.  Little Brownie Bakers had a Cookie tin containing an assortment of Girl Scout cookies for the 75th anniversary of Girl Scouts.  In the year 2000, ABC Bakers had a cookie tin for the New Millennium 2000.   

As the fall product season is quickly approaching, keep your eyes out for the Fall Product order forms to see what new tins will be available and place your order.  The candy and nut products make great gifts, and nuts and candies are very delicious. 

An Inside Look at How Council Historians Preserve Our Girl Scout Treasures

Who are the Historians you might ask? The Historian Team at GSGCNWI is made up of 26 volunteers who are interested in the history of Girl Scouts and actively work to preserve and present the story to our community.

History of the movement

Begun by Juliette Gordon Low on March 12,1912, Girl Scouts quickly spread throughout the country. Girl Scouts offered young women the opportunity to learn important life skills, as well as to live by the values of the Promise and Law – unselfishness, patriotism, loyalty and truth. Our current Council was formed in 2008 from seven councils in the Chicago media market following the guidance of Girl Scouts of USA (GSUSA). Those seven councils were the result of over 40 smaller councils that had been established, functioned and eventually combined over the years.

In the early days of the movement, individual towns were set up as councils that governed and guided their girl and adult members. Logistics, better governance and the opportunity to bring a better program to the girls brought these smaller councils together. What it also created was story after story about the local Girl Scout program.

Enter the Council Historian Team.

Historical Treasures

Some members of the team have been actively involved in preserving our memorabilia and stories since the 1980’s. GSUSA encouraged historians to step forward and provided professional level training in the preservation of all aspects of the history of Girl Scouts. Many of our team members have traveled to the Macy Program Center in New York, as well as multi-day programs held before National Council Sessions to learn the proper techniques to accession and store all the bits and pieces of history donated to us by our local community. Members of our team hosted “Learn to Preserve” in 2014 and were privileged to have experts from GSUSA and volunteer historians from throughout the Midwest attend our training.

When the words Girl Scout history come up, most people think of the uniform they wore and the handbook they used. We have all that and so much more. Each item that is donated to us is recorded and then passed along to the team member responsible for accessioning that category of material. We use simple excel spreadsheets to record our work and have over 70 categories of physical items in the council collection. Yes, we have magazines, dolls, camp canteens, mugs, postcards, volunteer gifts, tins, cameras, pens and pencils, membership cards…and the list goes on.

The collection is currently housed in the annex at the Joliet and Vernon Hills Gathering Place (GP). Team members meet on Mondays and Tuesdays each week at one of the GPs to process the literally thousands of pieces of historic memorabilia that have been donated to us over the years.

Over those same years, we have opened the gray archival boxes and shared the collection with our local communities. Sometimes it’s smaller displays at libraries, community meetings and events. We have produced fashion shows of uniforms for Alumnae and Service Unit events, as well as large scale shows at local malls. To celebrate our special anniversaries, we have held programs at Navy Pier (90-year anniversary) and at some of Chicago’s premier museums in 2012 to commemorate the 100 years of Girl Scouting. Currently there are displays in the Gathering Places in Chicago, Joliet and Woodridge. The displays are changed regularly to showcase just some of the treasures from the collection.

The team has offered Victorian themed tea parties throughout the council, taken books and uniforms to troop and Service Unit meetings, and participated in other council events, such as Trunk or Treat. We have put together kits that can be checked out by troops for use at their meetings – ranging from tea parties to history themed book and uniform bins from the 1960s and 1980s.

Take Home a Piece of History

This upcoming September 29 (10am – 4pm), 30 (10am – 6pm) and October 1 (10am – 2pm) will be our first sale of excess historical items from our inventory. We are always grateful for any donations, but we have limited storage space and must be selective about which items we accession. We invite you to the Joliet Gathering Place to shop for books, uniforms, badges and patches, and many of those extras that might be new to you.

Most of us are Lifetime Members of Girl Scouts and have served in many volunteer positions over the years. Our love of Girl Scouts and her history keeps us active in the movement and having fun. If you are interested in learning more about the team or donating some Girl Scout treasures, please contact our Archivist, Rosemarie Courtney at rdcourtney1940@gmail.com.

The History of Bridging in Girl Scouts 

Bridging is the term that Girl Scouts use to identify the work that a girl or troop does to get ready to move to the next level.  This work is not mandatory but is meant to give a girl an idea of what is waiting for her at the next level.  Bridging insignia are worn on the next level uniform, not the level where earned.  For example, the bridge to Juniors is worn on the Cadette uniform, not the Junior uniform. 

The first bridging was started about 1927 when Brownie wings became available. Since Brownies were at one time called Brown Owls, the idea was for them to “fly-up” to Girl Scouts.  The first wings were red, green and white embroidered on brown cloth and were used until 1935.  In 1931 the wings were brown embroidered on gray-green Girl Scout cloth.  With two types of wings, Brownies who had earned the Golden Bar were awarded the brown wings, while Brownies who had earned the higher award of the Golden Hand were awarded the multi-color wings. In 1935, both types of wings were discontinued.  The new wings were bright yellow embroidery on dark green felt that we still have today

In 1977, the Bridge to Juniors patch was introduced.  The original patch was a green arch with Bridge To Juniors embroidered in gold.  The arch was meant to go over the three Brownie B’s that were earned by Brownies at that time.  In 1980, the Bridge to Cadettes patch was introduced.  The patch was a yellow rectangle with a small trefoil embroidered in yellow in the middle. In 1987, both of these patches were changed to coordinate with the new Five Worlds program.  The Bridge to Juniors patch was still an arch but was embroidered in the colors of the five worlds (red, yellow, blue, green, orange).  The Bridge to Cadettes remained a rectangle but was embroidered in the same manner as the Bridge to Juniors. 

In 1987, the Bridge to Seniors patch was introduced.  It was a chevron embroidered with the same rainbow as the Junior and Cadette patches.  The Bridge to Adults was also introduced at this time.  It was a small rectangular pin with the rainbow colors surrounded by a green border. 1993 saw the introduction of the Bridge to Brownies patch for Daisies.  This patch was an arch shaped top over a rectangular bottom. 

With the new program changes in 2008 the girl bridging patches were redesigned. They all are arches but with different multicolored designs. The Bridge to Ambassadors patch was introduced in 2013.  The Bridge to Adults pin was not changed. 

The requirements for earning the bridging patches have changed in number over the years but the intent has remained the same.  Girls are to find out about the level the are going into and meet with the older girls, then they are to share what they learned with younger girls-planning their bridging ceremony at the end of their work. 

Honoring History: Two Families Carry the Girl Scout Torch for Over 50 Years!

As we enter into year 110 of instilling courage, confidence and character in girls, we are always honored to learn how Girl Scouts has made an impact on families and communities throughout the years. Thanks to our council Historians, we are able to share stories of heroism, empowerment, and recollections of heartwarming tales throughout different periods of our Girl Scout history.

Travel back in time and read about two Girl Scout families with over 50 years of Girl Scout experience, submitted by our GCNWI council Historian, Elise:

A True Girl Scout Family

In 1968, the Girl Scout Council of Northwest Cook County, honored two families from Service Unit 611 in Skokie/Lincolnwood. These two families, the Roth and the Petroski family, had one daughter in each level of scouting, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, and Senior Girl Scout. Their mothers were leaders of troops as well. It was the first for the council to have two families with such an honor. 

On the right side of the picture is my family. My sister Michele is the Brownie, my sister Sharon is the Junior, my sister Renee is the Cadette, and I am the Senior Girl Scout. My mother was a leader for one of my sisters. We were truly a scout family! One of my many fondest memories of that time was when we all sold Girl Scout cookies. My dad felt he had to buy from all of us and so he bought one case of cookies from each. We had cookies for a whole year! 

On the left side of the picture is the Petroski family. Gayle was the Brownie, Sally was the Junior, Regina was the Cadette and Edal was the senior Scout. Their mother was also a leader for one of the girl’s troops.  

Today, two of us are still involved in scouting. Michele Roth Herman, now works for our council and I am part of the Historian Group.