Happy Birthday Daisy!

Juliette Gordon Low – Founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America was born on Halloween in 1860. 

At 46 Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low found herself a wealthy widow. So she traveled the world and on one of her trips met Sir Robert Baden-Powell – Founder of the Boy Scouts and the Chief Scout of the British Empire. Juliette latched onto Girl Guiding with such vehemence that Lord Baden-Powell advised her to be moderate until she was sure what she wanted to do.  But Daisy had found her cause.  Daisy retired to her Scottish estate and recruited seven girls, teaching them to spin, cook and raise chickens for sale.  This whetted her appetite, but Agnes Baden-Powell, Lord Badden-Powell’s sister was firmly in charge of the British Girl Guides.  Daisy wanted more latitude.  She sailed for America, arriving in Savannah in 1912.  Her first night home she called her cousin and announced that she wanted to discuss something “for all the girls of Savannah and all of America and all the world…”

In the Girl Scouts’ formative years Daisy was less responsible for formulating their philosophy than for disseminating it.  She wanted to teach the girls leadership, self-control and executive skills.  A first-class Scout was prepared: “almost a grown-up woman, capable of bearing the responsibilities that will come to her in her home and in the community.” 

Daisy’s notion of the self-sufficient, accomplished girl is first dramatized in the promotional film made for Girl Scouts, “The Golden Eaglet”.  The story opens with two fussily dressed girls sauntering down the street to the soda parlor in Central Valley, New York in 1918.  “Nothing to do, nowhere to go” reads the subtitle.  Suddenly a troop of Girl Scouts quick-steps by them raising a haze of dust.  “They look like they have something to do,” one says to the other enviously. 

In the next scene the girls are uniformed Girl Scouts flourishing at Girl Scout boot camp.   Quickly the movie becomes a thriller.  The Girl Scout is told to get to the train station as quick as she can and when she arrives finds the station master robbed and wounded.  With Girl Scout first aid she brings him around, and with Morse Code she informs the next station of her plight.  When asked who she is, she smiles and taps out “I am just a Girl Scout.”

A group of Girl Scouts marches into the house of a woman who works in a factory and whose husband is a soldier.  The house and the yard is a mess, the baby is dirty and the older daughter is sick.  The Girl Scouts relentlessly clean the house, yard, baby and patient.  The subtitle explains, “Housework is not so bad when you do it for your country.”

America was taking on to Daisy’s notion.  Carried along on the momentum of progressivism and the war, Girl Scouting grew rapidly.  From 8 girls in 1912, the organization increased to five thousand in 1915 and over 40,000 in 1920. 

Juliette Gordon Low died on January 18, 1927, and was buried wearing her full uniform, the silver fish pin, a jeweled “Thanks” badge from her Girl Scouts and a telegram in her pocket from the head of the Girl Scouts of the USA saying “You are not only the first Girl Scout but the best Girl Scout of them all.” 

Sir Robert Baden-Powell – Founder of the Boy Scouts and Juliette Gordon Low