Juliette Gordon Low Snatches Triumph Out of Tragedy to Found Girl Scouts
Juliette Gordon Low is one of Savannah’s most cherished gifts to the world. She overcame a hearing handicap and failed marriage to distinguish herself as Founder of the Girl Scouts.
Early in life, Juliette Gordon Low showed a flair for fine arts that she later put to good use in structuring the Girl Scouts. She trained herself in the art of paint and sculpture. She was sensitive and gifted in sketching, poetry, and drama.
She had a happy childhood, but went through a “mid-life crisis” that led to the founding of the Girl Scouts. Failure of her 20-year marriage was the climactic event.
Savannah was the scene of her betrothal to a well-to-do Englishman, but they took up residence in Britain. Juliette Gordon Low was out-of-country a lot and felt called to America during the Spanish-American War to help her mother at a hospital for wounded soldiers.
When she returned to Britain after the War, her marriage was in a shambles. It ended abruptly when her husband died of a stroke in 1905. His will left most of the fortune to his mistress, which left Mrs. Low in a state of depression.
Juliette Gordon Low took to the road and did a lot of soul searching for the next five years. Things came to a head when in 1911 she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell. It was a fateful meeting because Baden-Powell was founder of the Boy Scouts. She drew inspiration from him to do the same thing for girls. In about a year she was back home in America and at that time made the phone call to a distant cousin in which she uttered the now historic words:
Girl Scouts Organized
“Come right over! I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight! Immediately Juliette recruited 18 girls and on March 12, 1912 formed the first troop of “American Girl Guides”. The following year they reorganized under the name of Girl Scouts.
Juliette Gordon Low wanted girls to step out into lives of active citizenship.
She sought to teach self-reliance and resourcefulness to girls from all social classes by introducing them into the out-of-doors.
Beyond her wildest dreams, the little band of 18 girls from the original troop, multiplied to its current 3.7 million members. Girl Scouts is the world’s largest educational group for girls, having influenced more than 50 million girls over the past hundred years.
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