Girl Scouts Forever: Our Council's Rich History

6/18/2012
Menisa Marshall

Girl Scouts Forever: Our Council’s Rich History

By Julia Bache (Senior Member, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana, Troop 375)

Girl Scouting in Kentuckiana has a long and rich history that dates to 1911. As we celebrate the 100th Anniversary this year, let's remember the former Girl Scouts of our council and renew the promise that has been passed on for generations.

We actually got a jump on Girl Scouting's official  start in Savannah, Ga. in 1912 thanks to Charlotte Butler who gathered a group of seven girls to join Boy Scout Troop 17 while waiting for an official girls' movement to begin. These girls wanted to learn new skills and have adventures just like the boys. Miss Eugenia was the leader of the girls' patrol in Boy Scout Troop 17. The girls in this troop wore bloomers and blouses to their meetings, very radical and inappropriate attire to wear at the time. These girls were just like Girl Scouts today; they were eager to learn and strived to be prepared. 
 
The first documented Girl Scout Troop was formed in Scottsville, KY in 1917. In the years to follow, more troops sprang up in Owensboro, Paducah, Louisville, and New Albany. Sometimes, like the first troop in Louisville, the Girl Scouts would be led by a teacher at school. Back then, the leaders were called Captains, borrowing from the military term. Assistant leaders were called Lieutenants, and there were patrols in each troop who elected a patrol leader.

 It wasn't until April of 1923 when the Louisville Council of Girl Scouting was chartered. Shortly after that, the Councils of New Albany and Paducah were chartered, and the Bowling Green Council was started in the late 1930's. This was just the beginning of our current council, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana.

The first office for the Louisville Council was on the third floor of the Red Cross building. By 1938, the Louisville Council had reached 45 troops and a total of 873 girls. Then, in 1958, the Louisville Council became known as the Kentucky Cardinal Girl Scout Council and leased its own building for the first time. An early Kentuckiana troop, circa 1950s, gets their pins.

When the 1960's began, the Kentucky Cardinal Council expanded to become the Kentuckiana Girl Scout Council. A few more councils also merged to join the Kentuckiana Council in the 1970's. Since 2000, when the name was slightly changed, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana has been the council that we know today.

 It might be hard to believe, but our Kentuckiana Council has had some pretty exciting and important moments. Today, the council's history is not widely known, so here are some important dates and events of interest.

 In 1938, Louisville Girl Scouts had the incredible opportunity to meet with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Paducah Girl Scouts helped in the World War II effort by collecting books to send to soldiers overseas, and Girl Scouts in Bowling Green served sandwiches and fruit to troops in trains traveling through town. Girl Scouts also took part in the “Bundles for Britain” Red Cross project in 1941.

Mrs. Murry Atkins Walls, the Kentuckiana Council's first African American board member.Kentuckiana’s first African American Girl Scout Troop was started in 1940 for girls in Beecher Terrace. The first African American woman to serve on the Council Board of Directors was Mrs. Murray Walls, pictured at left.

 Unfortunately, in 1943, a severe polio epidemic affected many Girl Scouts and closed several camps. On a happier note, the Paducah Council held its first camp session in 1945 at Camp Bear Creek.

The 1950's brought on the challenge of raising money for the pool at Camp Shantituck. It was during this time that Mrs. Murray Walls helped to integrate the camp. Camp Pennyroyal was set up near Owensboro in 1956. A few years later, Girl Scouts from the Kentucky Cardinal Council sailed from Memphis to New Orleans on the Avalon, which is now the Belle of Louisville.

From its modest beginning with seven girls in 1911 to serving around 20,000 girls today, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana is still changing the lives of girls in Kentucky and Indiana. Throughout the council, girls can attend a wide variety of programming, go to camp, and sign up for travel opportunities. All of these activities are helping to turn girls into successful young women.

At Troop 375's Thinking Day booth, Julia Bache visits with Margaret Tanguay, a Kentuckiana Girl Scout from 1942-47.Our Girl Scouts today share the same desire to have new and enriching experiences just like the Kentuckiana Girl Scouts of the past. We both share common goals and values, so it is important to remember and honor all our Girl Scout sisters, past and present.

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