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The history of the Girl Scouts of America

Founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low, the Girl Scouts of America, after she met Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts in Great Britain. The movement has its own Law, Motto and Slogan (all very similar to those of the British Boy Scouts) and aims to teach values of honesty, courage and compassion through a variety of activities.

Foundation

After meeting Baden-Powell and returning home in 1911, Juliette 'Daisy' Gordon Low apparently telephoned a distant cousin and told her: "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!" That call led to the foundation of an organisation which although based on the boys scouts would be for just girls. The Girl Scouts made a real effort to welcome girls from diverse backgrounds to the movement, encouraging girls with disabilities to participate at a time when this was not usual. The first meeting was held by 'Daisy' in Savannah, Georgia, on March 12, 1912. Eighteen girls attended. Originally called the Girl Guides of America, the name was changed in 1913 to the Girls Scouts of the United States. The organisation was incorporated in 1915. The name eventually became the Girl Scouts of the United States of America in 1947, with the organisation receiving a congressional charter on March 16, 1950.

Development

Girl Scout troops were segregated by race according to local custom in the USA until the 1960s, when Dr Martin Luther King hailed the movement as a force for de-segregation. The first African-American troop was founded in 1917, the first Native American in 1921, while 1922 had seen the first troop for Mexican Americans. Girl Scout troops were even founded by Japanese-American girls confined in internment camps with their families during World War Two. One of the central tenets of the organisation remains that the primary girl scout activities centre upon camping. Although outdoor activities such as canoeing and backpacking are important, girls are also encouraged to undertake community work, such as visiting nursing homes or collecting food for food drives. The organisation continues to encourage girls to live by the values of its scout promise and scout motto, and, with a headquarters boasting 400 staff in New York City, is a thriving and viable movement which continues to play a visible and significant role in American society.

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