Girl Scouts began March 12, 1912, with founder Juliette Low, organizing the first troop of girls in Savannah, Georgia. Created to give girls of all ages to grow mentally, emotionally, and physically, the Girl Scouts teaches leadership skills while giving them opportunities to grow and learn. While having fun and bonding, the girls become involved with their communities through volunteer work and engaging with different groups in their area. Popular Girl Scout activities include: camping, volunteer work, fire safety, first aide, outdoor survival skills, and other enriching activities.
Over the years, badges have been a symbol in Girl Scouts to show the numerous activities and important skills each girl has achieved throughout the year. Examples of some of the earliest badges included: Business Woman Badge (1920), Citizen Badge (1920), World Knowledge (1930), Radio Badge (1938) which later would become the Television badge (1953) and more.
As the times change so do roles women play in our society. Within the Girl Scouts, new badges are created to reflect these changes. For instance the girls in the 1920s earned the Business Woman badge, which was created as more women entered the workforce after World War I. Girl Scouts had to learn critical skills such as typing and how to dress professionally. Today, modern Girl Scouts are earning badges from a multitude of activities from robotics and cyber security to babysitting and international cuisine.
Girl Scouts at Fort Leavenworth was established in November 1922, sponsored by the Parent Teacher Association on Fort Leavenworth. With that sponsorship, the troop received a high interest of girls wishing to join. Mrs. Everett Huges, Post Girl Scout Commissioner, wrote in her report, “When I think of our struggling start, with no leader who had ever seen a Girl Scout troop in their life, and no facilities or equipment, I am very proud of the progress which has been made.”
A unique aspect of the Girl Scouts at Ft. Leavenworth was that they were the first mounted troop of its kind in the U.S. In 1928, “Hastings House” (the Commanding Officers stable) became the official home of the Fort Leavenworth Girl Scouts, named after Victoria Hastings. In 1949, Camp Conestoga became the permanent camp for Girl Scouts.
What makes Fort Leavenworth Girl Scouts unique is that they are diverse. The troop consists of girls that have been or traveled from different places due their family being a part of the military. Some girls are here for a few years, while most are part of this troop for 1-2 years. But the traditions, badges and songs help to tie them all together.
Virginia Marsh Hastings was born on January 12, 1921. She was an involved Girl Scout known to enjoy going to her troop meetings and bonding with her G.S sisters. Days before her 15th birthday, Virginia passed away in her sleep after a brief illness on January 10, 1936. She is buried at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
The Hasting House, located on Fort Leavenworth, was named in her honor. Built as the commanding officer’s stable in 1908, it was remodeled in 1935 for use as a Girl Scout building. After Hastings family left Fort Leavenworth Virginia’s mother provided funds to have an Easter lily placed on her tombstone each year until her own death. Each year girls from the Fort Leavenworth troop learn about the history of Virginia Hasting and honor her memory by laying a lily on her tombstone.
A trailblazer is defined as a pioneer or innovator and a perfect term to describe the Girl Scouts organization. The Girl Scouts were organized during a time when women did not have the right to vote. However the organization emphasized inclusiveness, the outdoors, self-reliance, and service which was game-changing.
In 1922, the Fort Leavenworth Girl Scouts truly blazed a trail by being the only mounted troop in the world. Membership into the mounted troop was every girl's ambition in the 1920s and they only accepted “first class riders”. The girls rode Saturday mornings in which they practiced mounted drills, riding picnics, and trips.
The tradition of blazing a trail continues today. In 2020, the first ever Trailblazer troop in Kansas was established. These girls met requirements such as hiking, camping, adventure sports, outdoor preparedness, and orienteering and backpacking during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trailblazers also teamed up with Fort Leavenworth for an environmental work including a national herpetology research project, building and placing bat boxes and flying squirrel boxes around post, clearing out invasive species around plants, kayaking and cleaning the Missouri River for Public Lands Day, and planting trees to replace those lost and diseased.
The Girl Scout uniform is a universally recognized symbol and has been an integral part of the organization for over a century. According to early Girl Scout handbooks, the uniform “gives a certain prestige in the community” because it could be recognizable and associated with girls who were helpful and courteous.
In the early years, the uniform was blue with a low number of khaki uniforms available. However, girls preferred khakis since they were partaking in outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. Khakis for the Girl Scout uniform were used until 1928 when the classic “Girl Scout Green” was implemented.
Throughout World War II the look of Girl Scout uniforms changed due to the low availability of materials during wartime. Girl Scout Seniors and Intermediates continued to wear green dresses paired with yellow neckerchiefs. Brownies wore brown shirt dresses with short sleeves.
The uniforms changed many times throughout the years to reflect the times. In the 1970s during political and social change, Girl Scout Juniors could choose from five separates to create twelve different uniform looks. Options included a green A-line jumper with step-in styling, four-button placket, inverted front pleat, and large patch pockets.
Uniforms have varied from dresses, jumpers, skirts, sashes, and more. Vests and sashes to hold badges have remained a constant for years, however now they consist of more modern look. The ladies responsible for these changes in 2020 are 3 Girl Scouts, Nidhi Bhasin, Jenny Feng, and Melissa Psner, young designers from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.