I would like to invite you to join me on (an unofficial) through hike of the Appalachian Trail to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting in the USA.
Juliette Gordon Low said it first and best when she arrived home from England in 1912 and picked up the phone to call her cousin, “I have something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America and all the world and we’re going to start it tonight”. From there the organization exploded from 18 original members to over 50 million girls that have benefited from Girl Scouting in the past 99 years. Because they were encouraged to dream big, these girls of courage confidence and character have grown into women of consequence.
Girl Scouting encourages girls to be self reliant and resourceful. These two qualities were what Juliette Gordon Low had in mind when she implemented the outdoor education component of the Girl Scout program. The importance of outdoor experiences for girls is becoming overlooked. Girls are feeling more pressure than ever to meet increasing standards of academics, fashion and career success.
Of course, academic and professional success are within the goals of the Girl Scout program. However, without the self confidence to try new things and the courage to try again after failure, girls can easily become overwhelmed with the high pressure society we life in. What’s missing, often, is a safe space for girls to be themselves, to work with a group and challenge themselves physically and mentally. There is no substitute for the satisfaction one feels when they’ve shed blood sweat or tears to accomplish something that may have seemed impossible.
Teaching girls outdoor skills goes far beyond the practicalities of knot tying or fire building. Taking girls outdoors and providing them with an opportunity to gain independence fosters personal development that can’t be gained in a classroom. After a girl muscles a heavy pack over a mountain, shares laughs and struggles and eventually success as a member of a team—nothing else in life will seem too far out of reach.
The Appalachian Trail has never been through hiked by an organized group of Girl Scouts. Juliette Gordon Low said that her purpose was to ”go on with my heart and soul, devoting all my energies to Girl Scouts, and heart and hand with them, we will make our lives and the lives of the future girls happy, healthy and holy.” It is my intention to devote six months to hiking the Appalachian Trail in honor of Girl Scouting and the devotion of our founder Juliette Gordon Low, in order to bring recognition to the value of the program that has been building women of courage, confidence and character for 100 years.
I aim to inspire girls to dream and act big, like Juliette Gordon Low did when she rounded up 18 neighborhood girls to start what would be the biggest volunteer youth organization in the world only 100 years later, by setting out on this monumental challenge.