Girl Scouts turns 100 - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 1:00 am / Updated at 5:20 pm
Girl Scouts turns 100
GIRL SCOUTS: THE HISTORY
Juliette Low started Girl Scouts in 1912 in Savannah, Ga., but it took awhile for Girl Scouting to reach Nebraska. In January 1926, the Omaha Circle of the International Federation of Catholic Alumnae established the first troop. By April of that year, 17 troops had formed.

Today there are more than 1,700 troops in the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska service area, said Theresa Cassaday, the council's chief communications officer. In addition to Omaha, there are service centers in Columbus, Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, Lincoln and Ogallala.

The badges girls can earn, their uniforms, even cookie sales have changed. What began as Girl Scouts, then became Girl Scouts and Brownies, is now broken down into Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior and Ambassador age classifications.

But “some of it hasn't changed in 100 years,” Cassaday said.

Self-determination, self-sufficiency, the ability to work well with others, helping others, the love of the outdoors and survival skills, whether it be learning to cook or how to build a shelter, are still taught. And camping is still the highlight of summer.

Nebraska Girl Scouts will observe the 100th birthday in many different ways, including 100 days of service to their communities — a project that started May 1. Cassaday said they also hope to do something at the State Fair.

The Durham Museum will open an exhibit about the Girl Scouts in November. It's title, fittingly, is “Courage, Confidence and Character.”

-- Carol Bicak

Read more:

Girl Scouting highlights through the years

A history of the badges

* * *

Girl Scouting celebrates its 100th birthday this year. Omaha's Virginia Grissom has been both an observer and a participant many of those years.

At 92, Grissom is perhaps the area's oldest Girl Scout. She joined the Girl Scouts in 1930 in Springfield, Mass., because she wanted to go to camp, she said.

“There weren't many things for girls to do back then, especially because of the bad economic times,” she said.

All the girls wanted to join. “There were 32 girls in the troop,” she said. “And a waiting list. When one girl dropped out, another quickly took her place.”

A friend invited her to join when a slot opened up. “I was an only child and it was a great thing to do.”

Grissom stayed in Girl Scouts until college, earning the Golden Eaglet award. She was a camp counselor through college and graduate school (she studied mathematics at the University of Wisconsin).

She has seen a lot of changes over the years, she said, “but its purpose and what it hopes to do for girls hasn't changed. It creates leaders.”

She got married, had three girls of her own and became a troop co-leader. The family moved to Omaha in 1953 where her husband, Robert L. Grissom, was the first chairman of the internal medicine department at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Virginia Grissom slid easily into Omaha's Girl Scout community, eventually becoming the president of the Great Plains Council. She still volunteers with the artVenture program and she meets with Scouting alumnae for luncheons and fundraising projects.

“One of the most important things you learn in Girl Scouts,” she said, “is how to work together to accomplish what you can't do alone.”

Grissom said Scouting is still relevant today and she works to find ways to get more girls involved.

“It's a totally different time from when I started. Girls are so busy now. They have so many things to do. They don't have the free time to get outside and play.”

Contact the writer:

402-444-1067, carol.bicak@owh.com

Contact the writer: Carol Bicak

carol.bicak@owh.com    |   402-444-1067

Carol writes about community news, local profiles, the arts and books. She also covers the zoo.

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