Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Girl Scout Pilgrimage to the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace

I won't say that our entire vacation revolved around this, because it was originally whale sharks and Atlanta that guided my road trip plans, but it was about five seconds after I Mapquested the road to Atlanta that I thought, "Huh. I wonder how much further it is to Savannah from Atlanta?", and that was solely on account of Juliette Gordon Low.

The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is the Great Pilgrimage for all Girl Scouts, because it's the home of our founder, and still contains many artifacts from her life and from the early period of Girl Scouting.

This picture was taken after the visit, you can tell, because both children are wearing their Birthplace pins. You earn that pin by making the pilgrimage to the birthplace, and it's one of the very few awards that you can wear on your Girl Scout uniform, no matter how many times you bridge, for the rest of your time as a Girl Scout.
Girl Scouts of the USA owns the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, so when my daughters walked inside, proudly wearing their Girl Scout vests, the docent greeted them with "Welcome home, Girl Scouts."

Oh, my goodness. My heart.

The tour that you go on is technically your bog-standard historical house tour, but all the rooms were peppered with Daisy's artwork--because Daisy was an artist who dabbled in a LOT of media!--

--and interesting clues into her life--

--and artifacts from the early days of Girl Scouting--

This is Daisy's own Girl Scout hat. 
Nina Pope is the friend to whom Daisy first told her big idea. What she said is Girl Scout history: “Come right over! I've got something for the girls of Savannah and all America and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!”
--to keep the kids happy throughout all of the historical house stuff:

One thing: Daisy's family kept enslaved people when she was very small--she *was* born in 1860 in Savannah, after all... Her father was a Confederate soldier, although her mother was from the north, and received the protection of Sherman himself to flee the area after that whole "March to the Sea" business. Daisy and the rest of the family almost starved during the Union Army's occupation of Savannah, and one of their enslaved people actually saved their lives because she could go out and sell and barter things to the army. That's the sum total of information that we were given about the enslaved people of the Gordon family, and that was a bummer, because they deserve a lot more. If you're reading this and you're a history major, there's your senior thesis project! Heck, go to grad school and make that the topic of your PhD thesis!

I found that I really enjoyed seeing what Daisy, herself, said and wrote about Girl Scouts. She was a true philanthropist, and so it's good to be guided by what she thought Girl Scouting should be. Look, for instance, at what she said about badges:

This badge is not a reward for something you have done once or for an examination you have passed. Badges are not medals to wear on your sleeve to show what a smart girl you are. A badge is a symbol that you have done the thing it stands for often enough, thoroughly enough, and well enough to BE PREPARED to give service in it. You wear the badge to let people know that you are prepared and willing to be called on because you are a Girl Scout.

How often do we treat something that we've earned as a reward, something designed to show off what smart girls we are? But in Daisy's mind, everything that you earn is a symbol to the world that in that thing, you are able to give service. A Girl Scout badge means that you know that skill so well that you can use it to give back. That's why the end of every badge book encourages the Girl Scout to use her skill to give service, and offers suggestions for how she might go about it.

The garden is ahistorical--landscaped with non-natives, in fact--and one of the Birthplace's future goals is to have it remade into a more accessible and welcoming spot. Nevertheless, it's beautiful:

Daisy forged the decorative bits of this gate. FORGED them. Because she did everything!!!

One of the reasons why I love seeing my girls look up to Juliette Gordon Low so much is how highly I look up to her, myself. I strongly believe that she did give something invaluable to the girls of Savannah and all America and all the world by founding Girl Scouts. It's a truly special organization, empowering and engaging, welcoming and embracing diversity, ready to encourage girls wherever they are to lead and learn and do.

I'll stop fangirling now and just leave you with this, a photo of my daughter and Daisy, both in their Girl Scout uniforms:


mamaraby said...

Awe! Sometimes Girl Scouts annoy me to no end - Why you so disorganized council? Why you stink so bad at making cookies ABC Bakers? have like one job - make cookies. Maybe one of these years ABC you could actually make the cookies and keep up with demand? Pretty please?

On the other hand, Girl Scouts is the one place that my homeschooled kids have been accepted as they are and had loads of opportunities I can't otherwise provide. Plus, I have so many fond memories of Girl Scout camp. Canoeing and all things water related! Good times...

So clearly we're going to now need to make the trip down there!

julie said...

GASP, you are an ABC Baker troop?!? We're a Little Brownie Baker troop! Not only do they have some different cookies, but I've heard that the recipes for their identical cookies are NOT identical!!! My troop would be VERY interested in doing a cookie trade with your troop, or another troop in your council, next year.

I totally agree about Girl Scouts and homeschooled girls! My two girls are very different people, and it's really clear when we participate in groups or activities that often one kid is appreciated more than the other, whichever kid that may be. But Girl Scouts is for sure one place where everyone we've touched has seemed to cherish each of my kids for exactly who she is, whether it's the co-leaders and other kids in our troop or their counselors at summer camp or their fellow Girl Scouts. It's just such a welcoming environment.

Okay, but the administration's organization ability? It stinks!!! I'm super happy to hear that someone else's council is also disorganized, AND that ABC ran out of cookies, too! We could have sold the freaking snot out of S'mores, if only we'd had some to actually SELL, ya know? Sigh...