UNDATED - March 12, 1912 – Girls Scouts established in the USA

99 years ago today, on March 12, 1912, a woman named Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low gathered 18 girls from Savannah, Georgia, for a meeting.  At this gathering, they established the first troop of American Girl Guides.  This was the start of Girl Scouts in the USA.  The name of the organization was changed to Girl Scouts the following year.

Today, this organization has over 3.2 million members.  In fact, more than 50 million women in the U.S. are Girl Scout alumnae!  Some famous Girl Scouts include: Dakota Fanning, Lucille Ball, Katie Couric, Ann Landers, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Martha Stewart.

Juliette got the idea after meeting Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in England.  She wanted to create an organization for every girl, everywhere, where they could build character and skills for success in the real world.

Many of the activities the girls did then are still being done today: hiking, camping, crafts, singing, dancing, first aid practice, and learning about science and theater.

In the fall of 1920, 16 St. Cloud girls in their early teens, who had heard about the Girl Scout movement in other parts of the nation, got together and decided that they wanted to be Girl Scouts too!  One of the girls, Constance Skeate, called her older friend, Emily M. (Matson) Lehrke, and asked her if she would be their troop captain.  Emily said yes, and thus began Girl Scouting in St. Cloud.  Within two years, there were 7 troops in St. Cloud.

The Girl Scout Council for this area was established in 1935.  Gertrude Riley was first president.

The current council is the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines Council and serves over 12,000 girls in 39 counties throughout the northern half of MN and the northwest corner of WI.  The CEO, Leigh Ann Davis, has been at the head of this council since 2003.  They work hard to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

Thanks to Sarah Warmka and the folks at the the Stearns History Museum for their help with our series "This Date In Central Minnesota History.