Our 110th birthday! Love it—after the past few years, it is a welcome birthday, dare I say a healing birthday. For the celebration, I got a simple book for my staff called “Who was Juliette Gordon Low?” To cut to the final chapter, I’ll tell you who she was—she was a legend who changed the world. In simple terms, her 110-year-old idea comes back to the famous Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Imagine what her idea did to make people feel on all fronts—first, to the millions of Girls who launched into the world to make it better and now FEEL confident having gone to camp, done their Gold Award, or simply completed a cyber badge. And, second to the millions of Americans who see a Girl Scout in a parade, or at a cookie booth or planting a tree, and simply smile, knowing all is well with Girl Scouts on the march. Juliette did that…that is who she is, someone who made the whole world feel good. And more than feeling, they do make the world a better place.
I shared with my staff this week there is one other special thing Juliette did. She brought an offbeat style to our movement. Whether doing handstands with dinner guests, riding horses without doing the traditional sidesaddle manner expected of women or loving the beauty of the outdoors, Juliette gave us character….a strong and creative character. If you visit a troop, you will see it in technicolor each and every time: unicorns, rainbows, fun times, and new perspectives. That is the legacy of a Girl nicknamed Crazy Daisy, who grew to be a legend with character.
One other comment on the 100-year movement she created. In many ways, we are so fortunate Juliette pulled it off. So fortunate. She had a rough life. Left by her husband, experiencing financial challenges, and alone without children…she could have folded her tent and gone home to finish her life as a quiet Savanah socialite. Instead, she decided to put her reputation and her finances at risk and create a movement that changed the world for the better and made us all feel good. I want to uplift the epic quote from her that she said to her cousin on March 12, 1912. “Come right over! 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!” With that 18 Girls became the first Girl Scouts and so would start the biggest and most effective organization for Girls in the United States. Now that is special—if I was going to start a movement, I may start small—let’s do it in the neighborhood, maybe. Let’s do it in my city. No, that was too small for Juliette. She said—let’s do this for the whole world!
So after staying strong through the pandemic, this 110th birthday, let’s party like a Girl Scout! Let us celebrate we are growing again in membership as a Council, up by 23%, let us cheer that we have so many volunteers who are leaders for our Girls—and let us be grateful that Juliette had VISION in a world where women did not have equality—she saw beyond the discrimination to see a world where Girls have a voice…an equal voice! And more importantly, we need to be eternally grateful she did not quit. No one would have blamed her, especially when cancer came to take her, but she never quit. Never! And for this Council, nor did we when strapped with 600,000 cookies locked away April 2020. Our Girls and volunteers did not quit on this movement. Girl Scouts are gutsy and gritty. This 110 birthday on Saturday, I will stand back and think how one woman helped make the world feel—she made us feel awesome. That is why it was right for her to be buried with a silver fish, a “Thanks badge” from the movement and a telegram in her pocket from Girl Scouts of America saying, “You are not only the first Girl Scout but the best Girl Scout of them all.” Yes, she was, and this weekend she is smiling, knowing that her movement is back and back on azimuth to make the world a better place. Party time Girl Scouts—we are a joyful 110th, Thin Mint style!