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Happy August, Everyone!

Did you know that August was National Picnic Month? And that August 4th was National Sisters Day? Sounds like the perfect recipe to have a fun, late summer picnic with some of your Girl Scout sisters! So let’s pull out that vintage Girl Scout mess kit and round up our troop for some good old fashioned, out-of-doors fun!

1941 Girl Scout camp postcard

1941 Girl Scout camp postcard

The 1953 Girl Scout Handbook had some pretty nifty ideas when it came to mealtime for girls. Here are a couple of fun examples:

“Avoid clashing colors, such as beets and carrots on a purple plate.”

“Do not repeat flavors or color in the same meal…”

”Combine soft foods, such as mashed potatoes or scrambled eggs, with something crisp and chewy, such as … fried foods.”

1953 handbook

And did you know that “butter and fortified margarine” was one of the seven basic food groups in 1953? That’s pretty amusing!

However, the handbook did suggest substituting the chocolate square in your s’more for a slice of pineapple… now that I have to try!

And don’t forget to include that good old get-to-know-you “Girl Scout Picnic Game.” You know the one- “My name is Mary.  I’m going on a Girl Scout picnic, and I’m taking marshmallows…” and so on. Instructions for this classic scouting introductions game can be found here.

Happy August, everyone!


Girl Scout History at the Resource Center

Service Center of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

The Girl Scout Resource Center and the Girl Scout Archives live side-by-side at the Mableton (Atlanta) Service Center. The Resource Center provides hands-on access to history for girls and adults who want to hold or touch as well as look at materials from the past. Leaders may check out older handbooks to share with the girls, or check out an entire activity kit that includes books, uniforms and other Girl Scout as well as popular materials from the past.

The history-based activity kits include:

  • Brownie Girl Scouts Through the Years: 1930s
  • Brownie Girl Scouts Through the Years: 1940
  • Ponytails and Poodle Skirts: Your Sock Hop In a Box (1950s)
  • Discovering Our History (Girl Scouting in the USA)
  • Daisy’s Days: The Life and Times of Juliette Low

There are also “historic” videos (VHS) available for checkout:

“AN INTERVIEW IN TIME”– GSUSA, 1981 – 5 minutes — an imaginary interview with Juliette Low recaps some history of Girl Scouting in the U.S. as well as the ideals behind the Movement; contains many archival photos; explains the organization of Girl Scouts at the national and council levels. Part 1 and Part 2 are on YouTube on the GirlScoutVideos (GSUSA) channel.

“FROM KHAKI TO KELLY: WATCH OUR GIRL SCOUT STYLE”– Greater Minneapolis GSC, 1995 – 20 minutes; this video style show features 24 different historical uniforms; a girl narrator tells the story of the historical period when each uniform was worn, from 1912 to 1995.

“GOLDEN EAGLET, The” — GSUSA, 1918/1982 VHS and DVD – 20 minutes – – this classic silent film (with subtitles) made in 1918 shows the early days of Girl Scouting. Shot on location with real Girl Scouts, it was intended to raise community interest in starting Girl Scout troops. Juliette Low appears briefly at the beginning and end of the movie. Part 1 and Part 2 are on YouTube on the GirlScoutVideos (GSUSA) channel.

“SOMETHING FOR THE GIRLS” — GSUSA, 1962 – 21 minutes – original film was produced for the 50th anniversary of Girl Scouts in the U.S.; shows photos from the early days of Girl Scouting; includes some biographical information about Juliette Low.

“UNCOMMON SENSE” – The History of Juliette Low and the Girl Scouts. Old photographs and interviews tell a short history of Juliette Low’s life up to the founding of the Girl Scouts in America.

“WORLD FRIENDSHIP” – GSUSA, 1948 – 19 minutes — an historical film featuring an international camp for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from Brazil, Canada and the U.S., held in conjunction with the 12th World Association Conference in Cooperstown, NY; story follows the experiences of three girls in camp, including meeting Lady Baden-Powell; emphasizes the international scope of Girl Guiding and Scouting, and the fun of learning about other countries and cultures.

To find out more about these materials, contact Margaret Paschal, Program Resource Center Coordinator of the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta at 770-702-9610 or

How Girls Can Help Their Country

The first Girl Scout Handbook, 1916

Want to learn how to tell time by the stars (page 83)? Ever wonder how to use signal flags in sending Morse code (page 78)?  Then this book is the right one for you. A facsimile of this first handbook is on exhibit in the Georgia Archives Month display at the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Service Center. On page 131 you can even learn how to stop a runaway horse.

Girl Guides were created in England by Agnes Baden-Powell, after six thousand girls joined the Boy Scouts organization created by her brother, Sir Robert Baden-Powell. Juliette Low was a close friend of this family, and in March 1912 organized the first American group of Girl Guides in Savannah, Georgia. In 1913, the name was changed to Girl Scouts because the object of the organization was to promote the ten Boy Scout Laws: Truth, Loyalty, Helpfulness, Friendliness, Courtesy, Kindness, Obedience, Cheerfulness, Purity, and Thrift.

The training of Girl Scouts is set forth in the Handbook, written by the Baden-Powells. Juliette Low obtained the rights of their book and, with the help of committees and experts from all parts of America, adapted it to the use of the Girl Scouts of the United States. Although some of the text is dated, there is still material that is helpful today. On page 122, she instructs the Girl Scouts:

“While searching a burning house tie a wet handkerchief over the nose and mouth. Remember that within six inches of the floor there is no smoke; when you have difficulty in breathing, crawl along the floor with the head low, dragging any one you have rescued behind you. Tie the insensible person’s hands together and put them over your head. You can then crawl along the floor dragging the rescued person with you.”

Some of the Merit badges in the Handbook include skills that you might expect a girl of the time to learn: art appreciation, cooking, or learning about music and nature. However, there were also Merit badges that included Automobiling, Boatswain (seamanship), Electricity, Marksmanship, and Photography. Here are the requirements for the Electricity Merit Badge:

Electricity Merit Badge, 1916

  1. Illustrate the experiment by which the laws of electrical attraction and repulsion are shown.
  2. Understand the difference between a direct and an alternating current, and show uses to which each is adapted. Give a method of determining which kind flows in a given circuit.
  3. Make a simple electro-magnet.
  4. Have an elementary knowledge of the construction of simple battery cells, and of the working of electric bells and telephones.
  5. Be able to replace fuses and to properly splice, solder, and tape rubber-covered wires.
  6. Demonstrate how to rescue a person in contact with a live electrical wire, and have a knowledge of the method of resuscitation of a person insensible from shock.

The text of the book is currently available online via Project Gutenburg, and a copy of the original edition has been scanned and available via Google Books. You can purchase inexpensive facsimiles of the book through the gift shops of the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace and the Girl Scouts First Headquarters in Savannah, Georgia. It is a fascinating read, and well worth the investment.