You may remember an earlier blog, written by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Historian Christine Caragher, about the ceremonies a Brownie participates in to become part of Girl Scouts.
As troops are now forming for the new Girl Scout year, we’d like to further examine the history of becoming a Girl Scout Brownie and how the Brownie “elf” still lives on today.
The Brownie program was inspired by the children’s book The Brownies, by Julia Horatia Ewing. In the book, Brownies were compared to fairies or elves (who were to help others by doing a “good turn”), and their uniforms often sported an elf in one way or another. It was only fitting that the first Girl Scout Brownie uniforms also had elf-like features. One of their earliest hats was a peaked cap like an elf might wear, and their first uniforms had an elf patch stitched onto them.
In 1921, Brownie Girl Scouts were given a membership pin to wear on their uniform, which was in the shape of an elf. Eventually, the elf was placed inside a trefoil shape, which has been the Brownie membership pin ever since.
The felt beanie, which is easily recognized as belonging to a Brownie Girl Scout, was introduced in 1941. Over the years, the color of the elf and the beanie changed to match the other accessories for the Brownie uniform, but the image of an elf remained. The elf was also found on a dress pocket, anklet cuff, uniform tie, blouse sleeve, and a belt purse. Even the official uniform buttons had an elf stamped onto them. In 1996, a baseball-style cap with the Brownie elf on it was introduced. Camp uniforms also had the Brownie trefoil printed, embroidered, or stamped.
When everyone in your troop is wearing the same apparel or uniform, it makes you feel special. You are not only part of a group, but a sisterhood, too!
Stop by any of our Girl Scout shops, or look online to see what Brownie Girl Scouts wear today!
Starting in 1915 in Washington, D.C., the democratic process has been continually promoted by our organization through the National Council Session (NCS), a.k.a. the National Convention.
Orlando, Florida, will host the 56th National Council Session from July 18-20, 2023, followed immediately with Phenom by Girl Scouts from July 20-22, 2023. This triennial meeting, comprised of delegates from each council, is charged with giving clear direction to the future of the Girl Scout Movement. It is the central link between Girl Scout councils and GSUSA. Each local council is allotted delegates on an adjustable formula to keep the National Council close to the optimal size of 1,500 delegates. Once elected by their local councils, the delegates serve a three-year term.
So, what do these National Council delegates do once they are elected to their positions? During NCS, National Delegates represent their local councils as voting members. They gather input, debate, and vote on proposals that impact the future of the Girl Scout Movement, including changes to the Constitution and the Blue Book of Basic Documents. In addition, National Delegates elect the National Board of Directors and the Board Development Committee. However, during the interim three years between each NCS, the National Delegates can also develop and submit proposals to the National Board for consideration as agenda items. In Girl Scouting, a proposal is a leading motion to bring a recommendation before the National Council for a vote. The National Board of Directors decides whether each submitted proposal is worthy of being on the agenda.
However, if any proposal developed by a local council receives support from 15 percent or more of the Girl Scout councils, then the National Board of Directors is obliged to have that proposal on the agenda so the National Council can act upon it.
This may sound boring and mundane, but the National Council Sessions are vital to keeping the movement forward-thinking. There has been a wide range of proposals since that first Girl Scout convention in 1915, and it’s quite interesting to look back on what has transpired at NCS.
My first encounter with the National Council Session occurred in 1990 in Miami Beach. At that convention, I was the chaperone for the two girls from legacy South Cook County Council who were sent as visitors. Since I had no previous association with NCS, I didn’t realize how many councils would actually send girls as delegates. I then began to lobby for a change to any subsequent South Cook County delegations to include at least two girl delegates.
After Miami Beach, I attended all but one NCS either as a delegate, a girl chaperone, or often both! However, Miami Beach was an experience I will never forget. The keynote speaker was the author and poet Maya Angelou who captivated and inspired the attendees. The Spring 1991 Leader Magazine described her address in this manner: “. . . she held everyone spellbound. In song, in prose, in poetry, she captivated one and all with her wisdom, her insight, and her humor.”
An additional highlight of the Miami Beach convention was the launching of GSUSA’s national service project on literacy with the help of an unexpected visit from our Honorary President at that time, First Lady Barbara Bush. Leader Magazine depicted it this way: “The excitement of the First Lady’s visit began with the arrival of the Secret Service people who checked the arena thoroughly. A surprise for those stern-visaged gentlemen must have been the immediate silence resulting from our Girl Scout quiet sign!”
The 1990 NCS is memorable for another reason, too. At this triennial meeting, the National Council passed a proposal to establish the designation Girl Scout “Gold Award” as the highest award to be earned by a girl member. After having the name of the highest award change several times in our Girl Scout history, this proposal dictated that the name “Gold Award” could not be altered.
You probably already know that the Girl Scout Promise and Law have been changed several times. However, you may not realize that some changes were voted upon during a National Council Session. The first-time changes were made at NCS took place in 1972 in Dallas. The delegation voted to approve this wording of the Promise and Law:
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God,
My country and mankind,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
I will do my best:
—to be honest
—to be fair
—to help where I am needed
—to be cheerful
—to be friendly and considerate
—to be a sister to every Girl Scout
—to respect authority
—to use resources wisely
—to protect and improve the world around me
—to show respect for myself and others through my words and action
The Promise was again revised by the NCS delegation in Detroit in 1984 to its current form:
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
However, The Law did not undergo additional changes until the Fort Worth NCS in 1996, which is the version we use today:
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Perhaps the most misunderstood proposal concerning the Girl Scout Promise was passed by the National Delegates in 1993 at the Minneapolis convention. The proposal was titled “Flexibility in Wording for Spiritual Beliefs in the Girl Scout Promise.” It stated:
THAT, since the Girl Scout organization makes no attempt to interpret or define the word “God” but encourages members to establish for themselves the nature of their spiritual beliefs, it be the policy of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. that individuals when making the Girl Scout Promise may substitute wording appropriate to their own spiritual beliefs for the word “God.”
Having attended the 1993 National Council Session, I still remember the headlines of that time declaring that the Girl Scouts had taken “God” out of their Promise. The intent of the proposal was to promote inclusivity for girls of various faiths whose religious beliefs might have a different terminology for “God,” such as Allah or Yahweh. Many media outlets totally misrepresented what had transpired, so GSUSA had to do damage control and make numerous explanations on what the proposal intended to do.
At other National Councils Sessions, the delegates have reviewed the request to increase dues. The Constitution was amended in 1975 during that year’s Washington NCS, giving this authority to the delegates. It stated: Decision on annual membership dues shall be by ballot and shall require a majority of votes cast. However, the wording in the GS Constitution concerning membership dues was somewhat altered at the 2008 NCS in Indianapolis. Within its rationale for the changes, the National Board included the statement that after the 2008 NCS, it would be the one to set dues amounts going forward and included a lengthy explanation as to why it felt it had the authority. At their January 20, 2012, meeting, the National Board raised annual membership dues from $12 to $15, effective with the 2014 membership year. This was the first time since the 1975 amended Constitution that the National Board raised annual membership dues without the National Council’s approval. Then in 2016, the National Board raised the dues again, going from $15 to $25. A lawsuit initiated by the Farthest North Council against GSUSA claimed that the dues increase violated the Constitution. The lawsuit went all the way to the Alaska Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the Farthest North Council.
This controversy on who has the authority to raise the membership dues caused the delegates of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) to write a proposal for the 2020 NCS that would create a compromise between the National Board and the National Council. The proposal inserted into the Constitution has this wording:
The National Board of Directors must seek approval from the National Council whenever planned dues increase will increase by more than 25% in any triennium. This amendment to the Constitution passed, making it one of the two proposals submitted by GSGCNWI in 2020 to be approved.
Another proposal associated with membership dues was passed at the Houston NCS in 1981. However, it was at this time the Lifetime Membership category was established. Then in 1999, at the Kansas City NCS, a vote was taken to have a special Lifetime Membership dues be offered to any girl who was a registered Senior Girl Scout at the time of her high school graduation or equivalent. In 2017 in Columbus, the delegates approved the elimination of the multiplier formerly used to establish the cost of a Girl Scout Lifetime Membership and voted for a flat rate of $400 or, for alums under age 30 and currently registered volunteers with ten or more years of service, a $200 cost. This change was supported by the GSGCNWI delegation.
There have been other significant proposals passed during NCS, such as those concerning the National Board. For instance, the Denver National Council session in 1978 reduced the number of National Board Members from 65 to 51. This number of National Board members was again reduced in 1996 in Fort Worth to 35. During the Atlanta NCS in 2005, the number of members of the National Board of Directors was amended to 25, which is the number that is in place today. Also, in 2005, the number of consecutive terms for the National President was reduced from three to two.
As I mentioned before, GSGCNWI had two proposals pass during the virtual NCS of 2020. Besides the proposal to restrict any dues increase to not exceed 25% in a triennium unless voted upon by the National Council, the GSGCNWI delegates also developed a proposal for the movement to establish a feasibility task group to research the formation of a National Gold Award Scholarship Foundation. When both proposals received positive outcomes, the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana made NCS history. We were the first local council to have two proposals pass during a single NCS. As one of the authors of the National Gold Award Scholarship Foundation proposal, I was asked to sit on the feasibility task group. Our findings will be shared at the NCS in Orlando this coming July. Stay tuned!
The GSGCNWI delegation is really looking forward to attending the Orlando NCS this July. After having the 2020 NCS held virtually due to the pandemic, it will be so satisfying to be in a convention hall once again with Girl Scouts from across the country. Being a National Delegate is a huge commitment with the numerous meetings before and even after the National Council Session. However, it’s extremely gratifying to know that this work is tremendously important to the vitality of the Girl Scout Movement.
Finally, I want to share a uniquely GSGCNWI tradition that was started for NCS in 2011. As a National Delegate who is also a Council Historian, I have had the capability to acquire vintage uniforms for our girl members who attend NCS as either delegates or visitors. The girls always feel special when delegates from other councils can identify the era of the uniforms they are wearing. Because 2020 was virtual, this tradition was suspended during that NCS, but it will definitely be brought back for 2023!
It may seem curious to discover that the woman who eventually founded the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, Juliette Gordon Low, spent a good portion of her life in Wellesbourne, England, in the county of Warwickshire.
Most Girl Scouts are familiar with the William and Eleanor Gordon home in Savannah, referred to as the “birthplace,” where Juliette had her start in life and became known to family and friends as Daisy. They also might know that the first Girl Scout meeting took place in the Andrew Low estate carriage house, which Juliette’s father-in-law had originally owned. However, when examining Juliette’s life, it becomes clear that the residence she and her husband owned in England, the Wellesbourne House, was the place Daisy considered to be the home that really belonged to her. So how did this 19th-century Southern debutante end up so far away from her upbringing in Savannah? It all has to do with the family into which Juliette married.
Eleanor Kinzie Gordon, Juliette’s mother, came from a family of well-educated women, and she expected the same from her daughters. Early on, Daisy was learning to read and write in the home of a local teacher. At the age of twelve, she was sent to a boarding school in New Jersey. A year later, she attended the Virginia Female Institute and, afterward, Edgehill School, also in Virginia. She studied mathematics, English grammar, spelling, French, piano, and drawing. Daisy was quite artistic, so she enjoyed drawing the most.
Her studies concluded at a finishing school in New York City, where she learned how to dance, curtsy, and sit properly, the important skills of the day for members of polite society. In this era, it was understood that an elite Southern girl was being educated to take her place in society and to be a good wife, not to espouse a profession.
William “Willy” Mackay Low came into Daisy’s life when she needed someone the most. Her sister Alice had died of scarlet fever in 1880, and Daisy was grieving deeply over the loss. Willy had been in England for some time, studying at Oxford, but had come to Savannah for the summer to stay with family and friends. He was the son of Andrew Low, an immigrant from Scotland who became the wealthiest cotton merchant in Savannah. Andrew had built a large house on Lafayette Square just a few minutes’ walk from the Gordon home. In 1864, when Willy was four years old, his mother passed away.
Andrew moved the family to the Warwickshire town of Royal Leamington Spa. However, he maintained the Savannah home and only returned there when he was on business. It should be noted that Andrew Low disapproved of the relationship developing between Willy and Daisy since he wanted his son to marry someone of equal status. On the other hand, Willie Gordon wanted Daisy to marry a man who could support himself through his challenging work rather than marry an idle rich man.
When Willy returned to England in 1881, the impetuous couple continued to correspond, disregarding parental objections. Daisy was given the opportunity to see Willy at Beauchamp Hall in Leamington when her father consented to her first trip to Europe in 1882. Her second voyage overseas in 1884 gave her another prospect to encounter Willy, even though Daisy assured her parents that her trip to Beauchamp Hall was to visit with the Low sisters. Juliette and Willy strengthened their commitment to each other that summer. A few months later, Willy came to Savannah, and the courtship continued. When the couple announced their intention to marry in February of 1886, Andrew Low insisted on a year’s waiting period. Otherwise, Willy would forego his inheritance. Willy and Daisy agreed to the arrangement, but Andrew died suddenly in June. Even though it was customary to have a year of mourning, they decided to get married as soon as possible. Willie Gordon, unwilling to relinquish his daughter totally, requested that Daisy come home to Savannah for six months each year. The couple agreed, and the date was set for December 21, 1886.
At first, the newlyweds resided in Savannah and occupied the luxurious Low home. However, during the summer of 1887, the couple returned to England. At this time, Willy had two rented homes, one in Leamington, near Beauchamp Hall, and the other near Blair Atholl in Perthshire, Scotland. However, he wanted to own a country manor befitting his social position. To that end, he purchased Wellesbourne House in rural Warwickshire in 1889, a fifty-five-acre estate. Having inherited 750,000 pounds from his father’s fortune, Willy could well afford the purchase price, and then he set about making improvements. The estate grew to twenty bedrooms with a stable for forty horses, a cottage for the gardener, a separate laundry facility, a greenhouse, and a garage where the first Wellesbourne automobile was housed. This was a home for entertaining and living the good life. Daisy was excited to have a home of her own and thoroughly enjoyed selecting the furnishings. From all accounts, she was delighted with Wellesbourne House and relished being the lady of this stately home.
As a part of the Marlborough set, a group of high society individuals close to Edward Albert, the Prince of Wales, Willy and Daisy had many social events on their schedule. Willy became president of the Wellesbourne Cricket Club and was also a member of the Warwickshire Yeomanry, his voluntary cavalry unit. In May 1895, the Prince of Wales attended a Warwickshire Yeomanry dance. Daisy was flattered to be the only woman in the room with whom the Prince asked to dance. In 1896, Prince Edward visited Wellesbourne House with his entourage. Daisy presided over a lovely luncheon for her honored guests.
Another celebrity of the time graced the Wellesbourne House. Rudyard Kipling and his wife Carrie frequented the home because Daisy’s mother was Carrie’s cousin. Once they had become acquainted, Juliette became good friends with Mr. and Mrs. Kipling. Daisy enjoyed this refreshing couple, who were quite different from the social elites to whom Willy was attracted.
Because Willy was away so much on hunting trips, racing his horses, or gambling with his friends, Daisy started to feel lonely. She had been an artistic soul from an early age and delved into various pursuits to take up the time whenever Willy was absent. Daisy had already proved herself an excellent portrait artist but branched out into other endeavors. She took up woodworking and carved a beautiful mantel for Willy’s smoking room and other ornamental pieces for her home. Then she took to metalworking. It’s not for certain who taught her how to forge, but it’s suspected that the village blacksmith John Thomas Thorpe was the one who instructed her. She took on a major endeavor by designing and then forging the gates for the entrance to Wellesbourne House. Those original gates were later shipped to Savannah to adorn the entrance of Gordonston Memorial Park, but they are now on display at the Birthplace. However, replicas made from Daisy’s design still hang at the Wellesbourne House entrance.
Although Daisy was thoroughly devoted to her husband, it cannot be said the same for him. Willy had a roving eye and was very keen on women. In 1901, Anna Bateman, an actress, was discovered to be Willy’s mistress.
This was particularly hurtful to Daisy since she had welcomed Mrs. Bateman to Wellesbourne House on several occasions. Now Daisy had a dilemma; how to end her marriage quietly and honorably. If she filed for divorce on the grounds of adultery, then her husband and Anna Bateman would be subjected to embarrassment and shunned in polite society. Not wishing to bring scandal to either of them, Daisy decided to leave Wellesbourne and reside in London. At a later time, she did file for divorce, but on the grounds of desertion. However, before the divorce was finalized, William Mackay Low died of a seizure in 1905.
Without her knowledge, Willy changed his will and left his estate to Anna Bateman. Nevertheless, Daisy persuaded Willy’s four sisters to contest the will. In the end, Daisy did receive a small settlement, along with the house in Savannah. Willy’s sister Amy Low Grenfell kept Wellesbourne House.
Daisy needed to put the heartbreak of her marriage and Willy’s death behind her. Without a career or the prospects of remarrying, she set her sights on traveling.
However, this strong woman wanted to have a purposeful life and continued to search for something meaningful to do. In 1911, she had by chance been seated at a luncheon next to Sir Robert Baden-Powell, who had just started the Boy Scouts. And the rest, as they say, is history.
I had the good fortune to visit Wellesbourne in July of 2017. At that time, the house Daisy so loved was an office complex. Then in 2018, the property was sold and converted into condominiums. However, it was nice to see the replicated gates and to imagine what an exquisite home it once was.
I’m sure the many people who enter those gates today are unaware of the lovely lady who once lived there.
Since there was nothing on the site to identify the property as once being the home of our founder, I started making inquiries as to how a historical plaque could be secured for Wellesbourne House. After much research and outreach, two local historians, who at the time did not know the property’s historical significance, offered to help. A plaque was affixed to the home at the end of 2019. Dedication of the plaque was to occur in March 2020, but this ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic.
It has recently been rescheduled and will take place in April 2023.
It’s good to know that the Wellesbourne House is now correctly identified for its distinguished history in the life of Juliette Gordon Low.
Have you ever had the wider opportunity to sleep under the Milky Way in a Girl Scout platform tent in the Big Horn Mountains in Tensleep, Wyoming? Welcome to Girl Scout National Center West (NCW).
In 1968 Girl Scouts bought 15,400 acres of rugged wilderness in the Big Horn National Forest, making it the most significant purchase Girl Scouts made at that time. The center was a national destination for many. NCW’s primary emphasis was on the Girl Scout Program in The Great Out-of-Doors for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, ages 14 to 18.
The camp was a place to explore Native American pictographs or for future geologists to sleep under a rock shelter called The Pow-Wow. Hiking The Peak was a 19-day pack trip up to Mesa and the backcountry. For novice backpackers, you could Tote n Trek 9 days out in the eastern foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. If you had a LOVE for horses, NCW was the Girl Scout Camp you sold a lot of cookies and fundraised for. Camp had three corrals on the property, and the programs included Ride Rap and Wrangle, Cadettes on Horseback, Buckskins, and Calico or Saddle Straddle. Each year a few new programs were added. Imagine your view of this country’s rugged wilderness from atop a horse, a priceless Girl Scout opportunity at its BEST!!
If you loved western arts, the camp offered Stage in the Sage, Paint the West, Windows n Wildlife, Furs Feathers, and Fun for the eye behind the camera. NCW also offered Focus I & II, where you learned the art of developing your black and white, some color shots, and slides in the darkroom—capturing such beauty and friendships of the country and wildlife around them! Wyoming Trek offered a program for Girl Scout troops and families traveling to other destinations out west.
National Center West ran programs from five base camps with pit latrines, running water, platform tents, a kitchen fly, a unit house with a staff office, showers, a food commissary, and a meeting room with a fireplace. We need to remember that NCW was a journey set back in time. For most participants, it was the first time they flew in an airplane. Just the red gravel Rome Hill Road up to camp had to freak the daylights out of you. But these strong Girl Scouts were prepared for this wider opportunity at National Center West. They each worked hard to be a participant in these programs and have the T-shirt, patches, and diddys to show from the famous Trading Post Log Cabin.
Camp had full-time staff throughout the year and hundreds of summer staff members that came back year after year bonding with their Girl Scout sisters and brothers. Girl Scout sisters mostly ran the camp and were the hardest workers I had ever been around in the summers of 1983 and 1984.
Sadly, in 1989, NCW saw the last campers. Due to high maintenance costs, the property was sold in 1991 to the State of Wyoming and Clay Ranch. 9,851 acres are preserved with the State of Wyoming Nature Conservatory, now called the Tensleep Preserve, and are open to the public. Clay Ranch picked up 4,749 acres.
On July 5, 2018, after 35 years, I returned to the site of NCW, now Ten Sleep Preserve, for a bucket list trip and reunion on the property. More than 100 staffers/campers reunited like Girl Scout sisters do by picking up where we left off. On the day of the reunion, we hugged, hiked to The Pow-Wow, gathered for a pack-in lunch, sang and sang some more, toured the property on
the cool school bus, and had the best Chuckwagon Dinner to end our day!! Time to get off the mountain and head into town to enjoy some live music.
I can’t thank my mother enough, the Best GS Leader ever, for helping me make my dreams as a young adult to reach for those stars, even in the longest days. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer during my stay and passed away in May of 1984. I returned to the place National Center West that summer, where I knew I needed to be with my Girl Scout sisters and brothers.
To this day, I (we) treasure these Girl Scout memories. When I hear the word “camp,” I know that these memories and moments truly last a lifetime! Thank you, Girl Scout National Center West!
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.