Beyond the Cookies

Thin Mints, Tagalongs, and Samoas may be what comes to mind when you hear the phrase Girl Scouts. But 100 years ago when the first meeting was held, founder Juliette Gordon Low had bigger plans. The organization has grown from 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia, to 3.2 million across the country.

On March 12, 1912, the very first Girl Scout meeting began. Exactly 100 years later, scouts nationwide held promise circles in honor of that defining moment. Thousands of girls went to Fox Valley Mall and more than 100 held a birthday party at Scott Elementary School.

“The Girl Scout Promise that we’re going to say at 7:12 tonight is really important, no matter how old you are, where you are in your life cycle,” said Emmy Lou John, a Lifelong Girl Scout.

Emmy Lou John signed up for Brownies nearly 60 years ago. When her daughters were old enough, they became scouts and she became a leader.

“My idea when the girls, this was in the late 70s and early 80s, was to let girls know that the world was out there and anything that they wanted to do, they could do if they would apply themselves,” she said.

When Juliette Gordon Low began Girl Scouts, she wanted an opportunity for girls similar to Boy Scouts, getting them out of their homes and into community service, a value that still holds true today.

“It’s fun doing service projects,” said Jordan, a Girl Scout Junior. “We’re going to a hospital to help and make blankets for kids, and one of them we went to an animal shelter.”

A lot has changed since Girl Scouts started 100 years ago, but in Troop 1516 they still love selling cookies.

“When you sell them you earn special stuff and what you also earn is going somewhere special,” said Daniela.

“You can sell to your friends and you can also donate cookies to the troops,” said Linnea.

“I love selling cookies,” said Isabelle.

Beyond cookie sales, the girls learn life lessons like good manners and not believing in stereotypes.

“It means a lot because it helps me figure out if someone says a stereotype to me, I should just ignore it because it’s not true,” said Veronica.

Guidance like this hits homes for Janet Neubert. When she was younger, hiking, exploring, and singing around the fire at Camp Greene Wood near Naperville sparked her love for Girl Scouts. It led her on the path to a career with the organization, helping them shape the leaders of tomorrow.

“We’re trying to knock down barriers for them and let them know that there are exciting opportunities for them, not just to do a badge, not just to do a troop activity, but to actually consider doing science, technology, engineering and math as their career in their future,” said Neubert, the Vice President of Human Resources and Organization Effectiveness for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

The 100th anniversary celebration will continue with other events, including the Inaugural Cookie Classic 5K Walk, Run and Expo on September 8th in Grant Park.

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