Many troops of Girl Scouts congregated at the Liberty Museum in the basement of Zion Reformed UCC Church, Allentown, at 622 Hamilton St. The event was the kick-off of a year-long 100th anniversary celebration.
A program was held earlier this month and a scout exhibit will be on display until May 5.
As people look at the exhibit one leader is heard to say, "See the World Friendship Pin. It has changed." Many other things have changed over the years and long-time scouts who became leaders told about their time with the troops.
Jerry Still, a museum volunteer, and Pastor Bob Stevens of Zion Church helped with the program.
Juliette Gordon Low brought Girl Scouting to America from England in 1912.
"I see from here that Juliette Low's dream was realized," said Marg Mason as she looked down at the girls below the podium. Pastor Bob welcomed the scouts and said he was a secret Girl Scout because he worked one summer at Camp Mosey Wood where he led the songs learned from the time his mother was a leader. He was made an honorary scout.
Mason said there is a new Girl Scout Way badge. She read a poem that began, "I'm grandma to a girl in green," and ended with "Some 50 years have been stripped away and I'm a Girl Scout again."
Lisa Auerbach, chief of staff of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, said today there are 3.7 million scouts around the world. Over the years 50 million adults and girls have been part of the Girl Scout movement.
Scouting builds character and culture.
Ronnie Backenstoe began her talk by saying "Happy Birthday" to Girl Scouting. She had two older brothers who were Boy Scouts and when she asked to be a Girl Scout she was told she had to be 10 years old. In December 1931 her wish was granted. She said if something was part of Girl Scouting she did it.
There were no leaders in 1931, but a captain and lieutenant. The girls worked in patrol corners. If they wanted to speak to the captain, they went up, saluted and asked if they could speak. Afterward they thanked the captain and made a military turn to return to their corner.
During the Boer War in Africa, Lord Robert Baden Powell needed recruits and found the boys had no useful skills. When he got back to England he said he would teach the skills to what were called Boy Scouts, and Girl Guiding was founded on much the same principles. So many girls answered the call for boys that he asked his daughter to take them on as Girl Guides.
Mason said Backenstoe was the director at Camp Mosey Wood when she was a scout there. Mason became Carol Watters' assistant leader.
Watters became a senior leader and held that position for 32 years and "it was really hard to leave."
Her troop wrote a play of Chicken Little, designed the costumes and performed at preschools for many years. One of the best memories was when they were to perform at First Presbyterian Church and crossed the street to McDonalds. The costumes had big heads and wings so they did not want to go inside. They went to the drive-up window where the server said they had to be in a car for service. She asked how they got there and the girls said, "Oh, we flew here."
Those teen-age girls pushed me to do things I would not have done on my own: backpacked, canoed, bike trips and hiking, said Watters. They did a lot with the Boy Scouts.
At one camp they could not get a fire started on a rainy night and finally had to give in and ask the boys for help. You had to know how to pack, swim and be strong for canoeing. The male leadership did not think the girls would be able to portage, but they picked up their canoes and were off down the trail.
As a senior leader she appreciated the leadership training the girls had before they came to her as seniors.
Fern Druckenmiller of Macungie began scouting long enough ago that she still had to salute. The captain and lieutenant inspected their nails, hair and for clean, neat clothes. They received demerits if something did not pass inspection. As a leader she began with Brownies and moved up to Cadettes three years later. The first year she hosted a Canadian exchange scout. She got to know the girl's parents and they are still friends today. "Through Girl Scouting you get to meet the best people."
She was with Cadettes over 40 years and now is a Cadette-Senior Troop leader. The new thing in Girl Scouting is journeying. Her first trip was to the National Center West in Wyoming. The primitive camp was on top of a mesa where the wind could pick up a tent. The workshops were down in a ravine and as Druckenmiller said, "You had to walk up again."
Showers were a quarter mile down the trail and you needed another one by the time you got back to camp.
She told the young troops at the museum to stay in scouting until they get to the older troops.
SOME PLACE USE 1912-2012
The Brownie Scout promise:
I promise to do my best to love God and my country, to help other people every day especially those at home.