HELLO GEORGIA A lady for all the world
“She can have him,” said Daisy, as she climbed frantically up the narrow steps leading from the Arcadian’s dining room onto the main deck of the ship. Glancing backward, her heart beating faster, she pushed through the crowd of passengers, and muttered in a muddled undertone, “This is what I might have expected.”
Daisy, an attractive socialite widow in her 40s, had just been jilted by a man whose company she was enjoying. He had been her “knight in shining armor;” now he was nothing but a deceitful demon.
Moments earlier, she had learned that her companion for the voyage, Sir Robert BadenPowell, had met someone else, a woman named Olave Soames, who was traveling with her father. A headlong romance had begun.
Crushed by the calamity, she braced herself for the stark reality of rejection. Gazing in gloom at the waves beating against the side of the ship, her mind begin to spin like a video-tape movie at fast-forward over the past few months: The parties in London with the rich and famous; the intimate conversations; the sculpturing they had done together, and now the voyage to America; these had offered hope, but now the end had come. She would simply forget them all.
But there was something she could not forget — the dream of starting the Girl Guides organization, an idea that had lodged itself in her mind by her association with Sir Robert. With that in mind, she decided to withdraw herself from the presence of Sir Robert and his new young love. When the ship stopped in Jamaica, she left before the cruise was ended, and made other plans to sail for Savannah.
Heavy-hearted, and lonely, she would now devote the rest of her life toward helping the girls of America and the world by starting the Girl Scout movement.
“Daisy” was only her nickname. She was born Juliette Magill Kinzie, Oct. 31, 1860. Her mother, Nellie Kinzie, was from Chicago, and had married William Gordon of Savannah. Daisy’s father served as an officer in the Confederate Army.
After the War Between the States, Daisy attended private schools in Virginia and New York; then traveled to Europe, where she met and married William Low, a wealthy English playboy. They were married in Christ Church, Savannah, Dec. 21, 1886. They returned to England.
Time passed; and Daisy’s husband continued his previous lifestyle of hunting big game in Africa and chasing other women. This led to a separation; but before there could be a divorce, William Low died in 1905. Daisy then left for France to study sculpturing. Returning to England, she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, a British Army general.
Baden-Powell had founded the Boy Scouts in 1908. He had written a military reconnaissance book for army officers and “Scouting for Boys,” and organized the first Boy Scout encampment at Brownsea Island in Dorset, Scotland, the same year the American Boy Scouts were established.
Agnes Baden-Powell, Robert’s sister, organized the British Girl Guides in 1910. Through her association with the Baden-Powells in England and Scotland, Daisy, who had once told Robert, “I feel like my life has been wasted,” was suddenly inspired to do something for others; she would carry the benefits of the Girl Guides to America, and would see its beginning in Savannah, her home city.
Her voyage on the Arcadian to Savannah by way of the West Indies with Sir Robert was her first step toward the realization of her dream. Her romance with Sir Robert failed; but through it her future had been charted. Through her resolute spirit and the power of her dream, time was inverted, and the sunset of her purpose became the dawn of a new and brighter day.
In time, she reached Savannah, and contacted her cousin, Nana Pape, and said: “I have something for the girls of Savannah and all America and all the world.”
Vision became reality, and very soon.
In a few days she and Nana had enlisted Page Anderson, a distant relative, who was already a leader of a group of nature-loving girls. Page was drafted as the initial patrol captain, and the Girl Guides of America was off to a hopeful start. The first meetings were held in the carriage house behind the home of Daisy. Uniforms were dark blue skirts, middy blouses, black cotton stockings, and black hair ribbons, and membership included girls ages 7 to 17.
This new organization would be something that would give to young girls in America, and later the world, their first experience of camping and related activities. It was a growing benefit born in the mind of a broken-hearted, homesick widow which became on March 12, 1912, the Girl Scouts of America in the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low.
In 1915, a national headquarters was set up in Washington, D. C. and incorporated with a national council and a constitution and by-laws.
The Girl Scouts of the United States of America is a nonsectarian, nonpolitical organization for all girls of all races and creeds. Is purpose is to help girls learn and practice good citizenship. Through the organization a liaison is maintained with all similar groups in all parts of the world through correspondence, exchange visits and conferences.
Today there are over three million Girl Scout and Girl Guides in nearly every industrialized country in the world. Their activities include homemaking, arts and crafts, health and safety, literature and dramatics, camping and hiking, music, dancing, sports and games, community life and international friendship.
In Savannah, the First National Girl Scout Headquarters building, formerly the carriage house at 330 Drayton Street, was willed to the organization upon Juliette’s death in 1927. The building now houses the Council’s uniform and equipment shop.
It also displays Girl Scout memorabilia, and is a program center. The Wayne-Gordon House, 142 Bull Street, birthplace of Juliette Lowe, is now the shrine for over three million scouts.
Juliette Low had no children, but her spirit lives on in the Girl Scout work she started — a rich blessing to millions of girls around the world.