Category Archives: Savannah

National Maritime Day and Mariner Scouts

Every year on May 22, The United States observes National Maritime Day, a holiday created in 1933 to recognize the maritime industry. It was May 22, 1819 that the American steamship, Savannah, set sail from Savannah, Georgia on the first ever transoceanic voyage under steam power. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Division, “The United States has always been and will always be a great maritime nation. From our origins as 13 British colonies, through every period of peace and conflict since, the Merchant Marine has been a pillar in this country’s foundation of prosperity and security. They power the world’s largest economy and strengthen our ties with trading partners around the world, all while supporting our military forces by shipping troops and supplies wherever they need to go.”

So what exactly is the Merchant Marine? The Merchant Marine is the fleet of ships which carries imports and exports during peacetime and becomes a naval auxiliary during wartime to deliver troops and war material. People who are in the Merchant Marine are referred to as mariners, seamen, seafarers, or sailors, but never Marines. People who are in the Merchant Marine are not military! They are civilians, just like us, and they were crucial to victory in World War II.

Mariner Scout membership pin, 1946-1963, photo courtesy of vintagegirlscout.com

Mariner Scout membership pin, 1946-1963, photo courtesy of vintagegirlscout.com

The Mariner Girl Scout program was officially launched in 1934, just one year after National Maritime Day was created in the United States. It was created for Senior Girl Scouts who were interested in nautical activities and whose troops had access to a body of water large enough to permit a comprehensive program of Mariner activities. By 1938, only one year before the launch of WWII in Europe when Germany invaded Poland, the Mariner Scout program had swept quickly throughout the country reaching a total registration of 3,484.

1946 Catalina Island Girl Scout Mariner Camp, photo courtesy Girl Scout Collector's Guide, 2nd Edition, 2005

1946 Catalina Island Girl Scout Mariner Camp, photo courtesy of Girl Scout Collector’s Guide, 2nd Edition, 2005

Although the Mariner Scout program was officially discontinued in 1963, today it has been re-instituted in a much smaller form.

Fun fact: Juliette Gordon Low was born and raised in Savannah, Ga., the same place from which the steamship Savannah set sail for the first ever transoceanic voyage. As a child, Juliette Low was sometimes affectionately called “the little ship under full sail” by her family!

Happy Birthday, Daisy!

Juliette Gordon Low as a child

Juliette Gordon Low as a child

Happy Birthday to Juliette Gordon Low!

This Friday, October 31st, is not only Halloween, it’s Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday! Born in 1860, this year would have been her 154th birthday! In Girl Scouting, October 31st is also known and celebrated as Founder’s Day.

Every so often, throughout the years, the handbooks and/or badge books for Girl Scouts change and evolve with the times, but one thing remains the same: they include the story of Juliette Low. She was born in Savannah, Georgia and nicknamed Daisy as a child. Her life since childhood had been filled with a lot of trials and strife including the loss of most of her hearing as a young adult and the death of her husband at about the turn of the century. In her search for a sense of purpose, especially after her husband’s death, she began traveling the world and in 1911 in England she met Lord and Lady Baden-Powell and her life was changed. Lord Robert Baden-Powell is the founder of Boy Scouts and his sister Agnes was the leader of the early Girl Scouts, known overseas as Girl Guides. Inspired by Baden-Powell, Daisy began the first Girl Scout troop in America in 1912 and the rest is history.

Girl Scouting in America has grown from 18 girls during that first meeting in 1912 to a membership today of over 3 million girls and adults. Daisy has left a legacy that we hope will live on forever. If you want to learn more about her life and Girl Scouting, you can go to the Girl Scouts USA website to read more and check out the links to read her biography, watch videos, and more.

 Happy Birthday, Daisy!

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Help the Birthplace

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace in Savannah, Georgia

Any Girl Scout will tell you that at least once in her life, she would like to visit the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace or that the visit to the Birthplace was one of the highlights of her Girl Scout career. Located in Savannah, Georgia, the house on East Oglethorpe Avenue is where Juliette “Daisy” Gordon was born on October 31, 1860.

Girl Scouts of the USA purchased the Gordon home, also known as the Wayne-Gordon House, in 1953 from Mrs. George Arthur Gordon. Restoration of the house has been almost continual since then. In 2007 a study was conducted by an engineering firm to help plan for the structural restoration and updating the facade of the house. Work began in January 2009 and will be complete by the end of 2011 with the restorations of the garden.

The Birthplace has teamed up with the National Trust for Historic Preservation with the “This Place Matters” campaign to honor your favorite places and make a call to protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to all of us. Every troop who visits the Birthplace takes a picture of the troop together, holding a sign that says “This Place Matters,” because all Girl Scouts do care about the Birthplace.

You can also help the house by joining the Circle of Friends, by making a donation to the Preservation and Travelship Endowments, or through a planned gift.  The annual membership contributions to the Circle of Friends continue to grow the critical preservation endowment that will fund future maintenance and preservation projects for our irreplaceable National Historic Landmark site.