The Project Gutenberg EBook of Girl Scouts, by Unknown

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Title: Girl Scouts
       Their Works, Ways and Plays

Author: Unknown

Release Date: April 4, 2008 [EBook #24987]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by David Edwards, Cline St. Charleskindt and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
(This file was made using scans of public domain works put
online by Harvard University Library's Open Collections
Program, Women Working 1800 - 1930)




"Be Prepared"

Girl Scout Logo

189 Lexington Avenue
New York City

Series No. 5


"Be Prepared"

Girl Scout Logo

"Do A Good Turn Daily"


On My Honor, I Will Try:
To do my duty to God and to my Country
To help other people at all times
To obey the Scout Laws


IA Girl Scout's Honor is to be trusted.
IIA Girl Scout is loyal.
IIIA Girl Scout's Duty is to be useful and to help others.
IVA Girl Scout is a friend to all, and a sister to every other Girl Scout.
VA Girl Scout is Courteous.
VIA Girl Scout is a friend to Animals.
VIIA Girl Scout obeys Orders.
VIIIA Girl Scout is Cheerful.
IXA Girl Scout is Thrifty.
XA Girl Scout is Clean in Thought, Word and Deed.

[Pg 1]


Their Works, Ways and Plays

The Girl Scouts, a National organization, is open to any girl who expresses her desire to join and voluntarily accepts the Promise and the Laws. The object of the Girl Scouts is to bring to all girls the opportunity for group experience, outdoor life, and to learn through work, but more by play, to serve their community. Patterned after the Girl Guides of England, the sister organization of the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts has developed a method of self-government and a variety of activities that appear to be well suited to the desires of the girls as the 60,000 registered Scouts and the 5,000 new applicants each month testify.


The activities of the Girl Scouts may be grouped under five headings corresponding to five phases of women's life today:

I.The Home-maker.
II.The Producer.
III.The Consumer.
IV.The Citizen.
V.The Human Being.

I. Woman's most ancient way of service—the home-maker, the nurse, and the mother. The program provides incentives for practicing woman's world-old arts by requiring an elementary proficiency in cooking, housekeeping, first aid, and the rules of healthful living for any Girl Scout passing beyond the Tenderfoot stage. Of the forty odd subjects for which Proficiency Badges are given, more than one-fourth are in subjects directly related to the services of woman in the home, as mother, nurse or homekeeper. Into this work so often distasteful because solitary is brought the sense of comradeship. This is effected partly by having much of the actual training done in groups. Another element is the public recognition, and rewarding of skill in this, woman's most elementary service to the world, usually taken for granted and ignored.

[Pg 2]The spirit of play infused into the simplest and most repetitious of household tasks banishes drudgery. "Give us, oh give us," says Carlyle, "a man who sings at his work. He will do more in the same time, he will do it better, he will persevere longer. Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness; altogether past comprehension its power of endurance."

II. Woman, the producer. Handicrafts of many sorts enter into the program of the Girl Scouts. In camping girls must know how to set up tents, build lean-tos, and construct fire-places. They must also know how to make knots of various sorts to use for bandages, tying parcels, hitching, and so forth. Among the productive occupations in which Proficiency Badges are awarded are bee-keeping, dairying and general farming, gardening, weaving and needlework.

III. Woman, the consumer. One of the features in modern economics which is only beginning to be recognized is the fact that women form the consuming public. There are very few purchases, even for men's own use, which women do not have a hand in selecting. Practically the entire burden of household buying in all departments falls on the woman. In France this has long been recognized and the women of the middle classes are the buying partners and bookkeepers in their husbands' business. In America the test of a good husband is that he brings home his pay envelope unopened, a tacit recognition that the mother controls spending. The Girl Scouts encourage thrifty habits and learning economy of buying in all of its activities. One of the ten Scout Laws is that "A Girl Scout is Thrifty."

IV. Woman, the citizen. The basic organization of the Girl Scouts into the self-governing unit of a Patrol is in itself an excellent means of political training. Patrols and Troops conduct their own meetings and the Scouts learn the elements of parliamentary law. Working together in groups they realize the necessity for democratic decisions. They also come to have community interests of an impersonal sort. This is perhaps the greatest single contribution of the Scouts toward the training of girls for citizenship. Little boys play [Pg 3] together and not only play together, but with men and boys of all ages. The interest of baseball is not confined to any one age. The rules of the game are the same for all, and the smallest boy's judgment on the skill of the players may be as valid as that of the oldest fan. Girls have had in the past no such common interests. Their games have been either solitary or in very small groups in activities largely of a personal character. If women are to be effective in modern political society, they must have from very earliest youth gregarious interests and occupations.

V. Woman, the human being. Political economy was for a long time known as the "dead science" and was quite ineffective socially. This was largely because it attempted to split man, the human being, into theoretical units such as "the producer," or "the consumer." In the same way many organizations for women have died because they have not remembered that woman is first of all a human being. Thus nearly all institutions for women, even those supposedly purely educational in character, have existed to shelter her from the world, or to segregate her, or have been designed to make her into a good servant or to "finish" her for society. The activities of the Girl Scouts have been selected on quite a different plan. They have not been designed for women as women, but for women as human beings. Real work may be followed with a great deal of enjoyment provided it is creative and awakens the instinct of workmanship. But it is when at play that a human being realizes his own nature the most fully. So dancing, sports of all kinds, hiking, camping, boating, athletics and story-telling are encouraged not only as a means of recreation and for physical development, but are made a basic part of the Girl Scout program.


The activities of the Girl Scouts are, of course, not peculiar to this organization. Every one of them is provided for elsewhere, in schools, clubs, and societies. But the way in which they are combined and co-ordinated about certain basic principles is peculiar to the Girl Scouts.

[Pg 4]In the first place all these activities have a common motive which is preparation for a fuller life for the individual, not only in her personal, but in her social relations. It is believed that the habits formed and the concrete information acquired in these activities both contribute to the girls being ready to meet intelligently most of the situations that are likely to arise in their later life. This concept is expressed in the Girl Scouts Motto—"Be Prepared."

The method of preparation followed is that found in nature whereby young animals and birds play at doing all the things they will need to do well when they are grown and must feed and fend for themselves and their babies.

To play any game one must know the rules, so the Girl Scouts have Laws that they believe cover most of the needs of the Game of Life.

The Girl Scouts Laws are ten:

IA Girl Scout's Honor is to be trusted.
IIA Girl Scout is loyal.
IIIA Girl Scout's Duty is to be useful and to help others.
IVA Girl Scout is a friend to all, and a sister to every other Girl Scout.
VA Girl Scout is Courteous.
VIA Girl Scout is a friend to Animals.
VIIA Girl Scout obeys Orders.
VIIIA Girl Scout is Cheerful.
IXA Girl Scout is Thrifty.
XA Girl Scout is Clean in Thought, Word and Deed.

These Laws are known by all Girl Scouts, but the Promise to obey them is made only after they are understood and voluntarily accepted. The Promise summarizes the Laws and is:

On My Honor, I Will Try:
To do my duty to God and to my Country
To help other people at all times
To obey the Scout Laws

The heart of the Laws is helpfulness and so the Scouts have a Slogan: Do a Good Turn Daily. By following this in letter and spirit helpfulness becomes second nature.

[Pg 5]Because the Girl Scouts are citizens they know and respect the meaning of the flag, and one of the first things they learn is the Pledge:

I pledge allegiance to my flag, and to the republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

Organization and Drill. Some observers have criticized the Girl Scout organization because of its apparent military character. It is true that the girls wear a uniform of khaki, and are grouped in Patrols, corresponding to the "fours" in the Army; that they salute, and learn simple forms of drill and signalling. But the reason they do this is because the military organization happens to be the oldest form of organization in the world, and it works. It is the best way men have found of getting a number of persons to work together. Following directions given to a group is quite a different matter from doing something alone, and most of us need special training in this. A group of eight has been found to work the best because it is the largest number that can be handled by a person just beginning to be a leader, and m oreover elementary qualities of leadership seem to exist in just about the proportion of one in eight. It is probably on this account that children take so kindly to the form—rather than because of any glamor of the army, though this must be admitted as a factor. In actual practice the drill and signalling take up a very small portion of the program, and are nowhere followed as ends in themselves, but only as a means to an end.

The Uniform. The uniform is simple, durable and allows freedom of action. It is of khaki because this has been found to be the best wearing fabric and color. It is not easily torn and does not readily soil. Wearing it gives the girls a sense of belonging to a larger group, such as it is hard to get in any other way. It keeps constantly before them the fact that they represent a community to whose laws they have voluntarily subscribed and whose honor they uphold. It is well, too, to have an impersonal costume if for no other reason than to counteract the tendency of girls to concentrate upon their personal appearance. To have a neat, simple, useful garb is a novel experience to many an over-dressed[Pg 6] doll who has been taught to measure all worth by extravagance of appearance.


Scouts of Different Ages. The original Girl Scout program was designed mainly with the needs of the young adolescent in mind and the age was fixed from 10 to 18 years. But the little girls wanted to come in and so a separate division was made for them called the Brownies or Junior Scouts. Then the older girls and women wanted to join and as time went on the original Girl Scouts grew up, but not out of, the Scout movement, and programs are being made for Senior Scouts who are eighteen and over. The three age groups seem to be natural ones and each has its own methods and activities. The larger number of Girl Scouts belong to the middle adolescent group.

All Scouts are organized in the same way and all are enrolled with the National Girl Scout organization.

Patrol. Eight girls form a Patrol which is the working unit. The eight select from their own group a Patrol Leader who has charge of the activities for a month or any period of time the Patrol may designate. The Patrol Leader has immediate responsibilities for the activities of the eight. It is desirable to have each girl of a Patrol serve as a leader at some time or other.

Troop. One or more Patrols constitute a Troop which is the administrative unit recognized by the National organization.

Captain. The Troop is under the direction of a Captain who must be at least twenty-one years of age and whose qualification as a leader of young girls is passed upon by National Headquarters before she is commissioned.

Lieutenant. A Captain may have one or more Lieutenants. The Lieutenant must be at least eighteen years of age and her commission is likewise subject to control by National Headquarters.

Captains and Lieutenants may be organized into associations in any given locality.

Scout Classes. There are three classes of Girl Scouts, the youngest being the "Tenderfoot," the name given by frontiersmen to the man from [Pg 7] the city who is not hardened to the rough life out of doors. Even the Tenderfoot, however, has to know some things including the Promise, Laws, Slogan and Motto, how to salute, and the respect due to the flag, and making some useful knots.

The "Second Class" Scout has been a Tenderfoot for at least one month, and can pass a test of distinctly greater difficulty, including a good deal about cooking and housekeeping, animals and birds, flowers and trees, some important first aid things, and the laws of health.

The highest is the "First Class" Scout and is to be attained only by a young person of considerable accomplishment. She must be able to find her way about city or country without any of the usual aids, using only the compass and her developed judgment of distance and direction. She must also be able to communicate and receive messages in two ways—by signalling in Semaphore and the General Service Codes which is the code used for telegraphing and wireless, and which can be used in several ways. She must have shown proficiency in Home Nursing, Child Care, and Housekeeping and in addition in either Laundering, Cooking, Needlework or Gardening. She must also be an all round out doors person, familiar with camping, and able to lead in this, or be a good skater or a naturalist, or be able to swim. Not only must she know all these different things but she must also have trained a Tenderfoot, and served her community.

Proficiency Badges. After a Girl Scout has attained to First Class there are still other worlds to conquer as the badges she has earned on the way are only a few of the many kinds still to be worked toward. There are at present no less than forty-six kinds of subjects in which a Scout may achieve, and more are being added daily. Just to mention a few: a Girl Scout may be an Astronomer, a Bee keeper, a Dairy-maid, or a Dancer, an Electrician, a Geologist, a Horsewoman, an Interpreter, a Motorist or a Musician, a Scribe, a Swimmer or accomplished in Thrift. Each subject has its own badge and when earned this is sewn into the uniform.

[Pg 8]Council. There may also be, and this is desirable, a Council composed of women and men representing all the best interests of the community: parents, schools, religious denominations of all sorts, business, producers, women's clubs, and other social and philanthropic organizations. The Council acts as the link between the Girl Scouts and the community. It has the same relation to the separate Troops that the school board has to the schools, that is; it guides and decides upon policies and standards, interprets the Scouts to the community and the community to the Scouts. It does not do the executive or teaching work—that belongs to the Captains, Lieutenants and Patrol Leaders.

Another of the functions of the Council is to interest public spirited women and men, particularly artists and scientists in Girl Scout work and get them to act as referees in awarding Merit Badges for proficiency in the many lines encouraged for Girl Scouts.

But the community's resources of wisdom are not only in the schools and museums, and laboratories and studios—these are mostly to be found only in large cities. It is a poor place that does not have one or more wise old persons—a farmer learned in nature ways, a retired sailor stocked with sea lore, or a mother of men who knows life as perhaps no one else can. The wise council will know where to find these natural teachers and see that the children go to their schools.

Another prime function of the Council is the raising of funds and to make available such other material equipment as camp sites, meeting places for the Troops, etc. The Captain should turn to the Council for help in arranging and directing rallies, dances, fairs, pageants and other devices for entertainment or securing money.

National Organization. The central governing body of the Girl Scouts is the National Council made up of elected delegates from all local groups. The National Council works through an Executive Board, which conducts National Headquarters in New York. The National Director is in charge of Headquarters and has direct administrative responsibility for the work of the whole organization with the general divisions of Field, Business, Publication and Education.

"Be Prepared"

Girl Scout Logo

Officers, National Headquarters Girl Scouts, Inc.

Honorary President
Mrs. Woodrow Wilson

Mrs. Juliette Low

First Vice-President
Mrs. Arthur O. Choate

Second Vice-President
Mrs. Herbert Hoover

Dunlevy Milbank

Chairman, Executive Board
Mrs. V. Everit Macy

Mrs. Jane Deeter Rippin

Executive Board
Mrs. Selden Bacon
Mrs. Nicholas F. Brady
Miss Ellen M. Cassatt
Mrs. Arthur O. Choate
Mr. Francis P. Dodge
Miss Emma R. Hall
Mrs. Juliette Low
Mrs. V. Everit Macy
Mrs. Snowden Marshall
Mrs. Robert G. Mead
Mr. Dunlevy Milbank
Miss Llewellyn Parsons
Mrs. Harold I. Pratt
Mrs. Theodore H. Price
Mrs. W. N. Rothschild
Dr. James E. Russell
Mrs. George W. Stevens
Mrs. James J. Storrow
Mrs. Percy Williams

Girl Scout Logo

Transcriber's Note:

Two variations of the Girl Scout Promise appear in the original text. Both wordings have been retained in this e-text. "Girl Scouts Motto" and "Girl Scouts Laws" have been retained without apostrophes, as in the original.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Girl Scouts, by Unknown


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