Girl Scouts celebrate their 99th anniversary

Published 10:59 pm Friday, March 11, 2011

Canned food: Girl Scout Cadette Troop 946 of Suffolk collected canned food for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia last year.

Suffolk Girl Scouts are celebrating the organization’s 99th anniversary today.

“We are very excited this year because we are going on to 100 years,” said Elizabeth Vaughn, community relations manager for the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast. Juliette Gordon Low held the first-ever Girl Scout meeting with 18 girls on March 12, 1912 in Savannah, Ga. She wanted to establish a group that would help girls to develop mentally, spiritually and physically through community service projects, sports, camping and more.

She encouraged girls to explore non-traditional roles in fields like science and business. The values and goals that the organization began with are still in place today.

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“Just like when Girl Scouts started in 1912, we are providing girls with the tools they need to succeed in society,” Vaughn said.

Low also encouraged diversity in the Girl Scouts organization. She drew girls from a variety of backgrounds into the group. She also accepted girls with disabilities when they were excluded from other groups.

During the week leading up to the Girl Scout anniversary, many area troops celebrate Girl Scout Week.

“It’s an opportunity for them to really learn about how the organization started,” Vaughn said.

Since its origins, the organization has grown to become the largest educational organization for girls, serving 3.2 million members worldwide, according the Girl Scout website.

Nearly 16,000 girls make up the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast while more than 465 girls in Suffolk are Girl Scouts.

Troops in the Colonial Coast Council are celebrating Low’s legacy by completing community service projects such as putting together birthday kits with cake mix, balloons and more. They are donating these kits to the Salvation Army food pantry for children who may not be able to afford hosting their own birthday party. Other area troops are camping to celebrate the anniversary.

A Suffolk troop that meets at Little Mount Zion Baptist Church celebrated “Girl Scouts Day” during the morning worship service last weekend and invited other area troops.

“Next year there will be several big events,” Vaughn said. “We are starting to get really excited about the events coming up,” she said.