Chesterton Tribune


More than just cookies and sashes: Historical Society hears 100 years of Girl Scouts

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It had started as an idea 100 years ago and since then it has been a starting point for millions of young leaders across the world.

The first American woman in space Sally Ride was one, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was one. So was comedienne Lucille Ball, country singer Taylor Swift, child star Dakota Fanning, former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former First Lady Laura Bush, TV homemaker Martha Stewart, tennis champ Venus Williams and 21 other NASA astronauts.

They all at one time donned sashes and held up their three middle fingers while promising to serve God and country, to help people at all times, and to live by a specific law. But you might know them best for selling you cookies.

Ladies young and old around the world are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting this year and the Duneland Historical Society celebrated in its own style Thursday evening at the Westchester Twp. Library Service Center.

Director of Volunteer Services for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Cindy Stath and Membership Specialist Sheree Barnett entertained the group with fun facts, anecdotes and regaled the crowd with stories of how the Girl Scouts organization grew from humble beginnings to become a worldwide culture.

“Every girl who has been a Girl Scout knows how it has affected their everyday life,” Stath said.

Those in the audience were also treated to the first promotional film for the Girl Scouts made in 1918 entitled “The Golden Eaglet: The Story of a Girl Scout.” The 20-minute silent film, which Stath said can also be seen on, featured Girls Scouts founder Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Lowe.

Lowe founded the first Girl Scout troop on March 12, 1912 in Savannah, Ga. after having met Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout movement. Stath said Lowe, who did not have any children of her own, believed girls should have the chance to develop physically, mentally and spiritually while being “obedient and respectful.” Lowe would lead the girls on hiking trips and taught them, among other things, to play basketball.

The latter caused quite a stir among stuffy neighbors who objected to the girls shooting hoops while wearing bloomers. Lowe had a fence put up.

The first Girl Scout cookies were sold for just 25 cents a box, Stath said. Today they go for $4 per box, a fact which drew some surprised remarks from the audience. The most popular cookie is the Thin Mints, which ranks as the third most bought cookie on the planet.

Scouting begins in kindergarten with the Daisy program and runs through the high school years with Senior Girl Scout programs, but Scouting can continue into adulthood.

The highest honor for Senior scouts is to achieve the Gold Award.

Hall of Fame member

About a dozen Girl Scout alumni were in attendance. One was a notable Duneland scout leader Louise “Sue” Crumpacker who was better known to Scouts by her nickname “Mother Nature.” She acquired the moniker from taking many troops on hikes at the Dunes for many years, accruing a wealth of knowledge.

As part of the Girl Scouts Centennial Celebration, the organization started its own Hall of Fame and Stath announced that Crumpacker was one of the three honorees from the Chicago and Northwest Indiana area.

Crumpacker, who resides in Jackson Twp., told the Tribune she has been involved with scouting for 75 years as a Girl Scout, adult volunteer and a lifelong learner. She spends time each year in Ft. Meyers, Fla. as a volunteer naturalist.

“I think what I enjoyed most was seeing the girls develop and become something,” said Crumpacker.

The number of former Girl Scouts Thursday was about double the number of Boy Scouts present. Two Eagle Scouts were in attendance – Jim Jeselnick of Chesterton and Chesterton Tribune publisher Warren Canright.

Chesterton Girl Scout origins

Historical Society member and Westchester Twp. History Museum volunteer Nancy Hokanson said Girls Scouts began in Duneland about 1923. The museum is featuring an exhibit on the Girl Scout Centennial, which runs through the rest of September.

Museum curator Serena Sutliff on Friday said the Girl Scouts group that was meeting in 1923 was “technically unofficial” since they were not registered with the national organization. The first official group formed in 1936 when they met regularly at St. Patrick’s.

Although not as many as there used to be, a few Girl Scout camps still exist in Northwest Indiana. The largest in Porter County is the 304-acre Camp Butternut Springs, located at 650 N. CR 175 W, in Liberty Twp.

After the talk, audience members were welcome to view assorted memorabilia from an array of eras. On display were pins and badges, a canteen and a sash that belonged to Hokanson.

Rock and Roll

next month

For its second meeting of the fall season, the Historical Society will meet on Thursday, Oct. 18 when Indiana University Northwest Professor James B. Lane will give a presentation on Vivian Carter and Veejay Records, which started in Gary in the 1950’s. The label included some of the biggest names in Rock and Roll at that time.

On Nov. 15, the group will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Save the Dunes Council.



Posted 9/24/2012