Anyone who has purchased or eaten a girl scout cookie, made s’mores, sung around a campfire or sewed a hard-earned badge on a sash should visit “Tramping and Trailing with the Girls Scouts”, the new exhibit that opens today at the
Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum. The exhibition of historical photographs, artifacts and reflections recalls the growth of Girl Scouting in the Washington metropolitan area and highlights Alexandria.
The first girl scout troop in Alexandria was formed at St. Agnes School in 1935. According to photographs from that time, the troop was responsible for a variety of service projects at the school and throughout the City. Like Alexandria in the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, the City’s girl scout troops were segregated. The first African-American troop was formed at Hopkins House with Helen Day as the troop leader.
Alexandria’s black and white troops participated in many local and national events, including serving tea to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt at “The Little House” in Washington, DC. The Little House was built as a place where girl scouts could learn the domestic arts. Through the years, girl scouts have been part of all of Alexandria’s celebrations – the Scottish Christmas Walk, the George Washington Birthday Parade and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Scouts are also responsible for a variety of service projects around the City.
“Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts” draws its name from a 1927 Girl Scout guidebook to hiking and camping. The guidebook features the earliest published recipe for s’mores.
Curated by the Lyceum staff, the exhibition features a collection of Girl Scout uniforms from the 1910s, 1930s and 1960s and Brownie objects from as early as 1937. There is also a display of cookie fundraising materials, including a vintage tin box and sales poster. Extensive camping and hiking exhibits are highlighted by a tent and official Girl Scout gear including a canteen, collapsible cup, pocket knife, compass, flashlight and a “sit-upon”, the small padded mat Scouts make themselves.
Founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low, the Girl Scouts promoted self sufficiency by teaching traditional domestic tasks and knowledge and skills beyond the home such as camping, physical fitness and career preparation. More than 50 million American women participated in Girl Scouting during their childhood, and today 2.4 million girls and 928,000 adults are members.
A Message to Every Girl – from Mrs. Herbert Hoover’s address to the Girl Scout National Council at Boston in 1925: “I think every girl should have the opportunity of learning out-of-doors by first hand observation the wonders and the loveliness nature has spread so lavishly, and how it all grows. I think she should have the opportunity to develop her little body freely and much in the fresh air. I think she should discern that a beautiful grove, a meadow, or hillside is a place to go for wonderment and joy and the singing of beautiful songs, the playing of amusing games, and the gathering together to tell one another or read worth-while stories, and to become better acquainted with or meet new friends among the birds and wondrous insects, the flowers and trees and plants.”
“Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts” is open through Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 2010. Girl Scouts wishing to arrange special tours and participate in interactive aspects of the exhibition are encouraged to contact The Lyceum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.838.4994.
The Lyceum is located at 201 South Washington Street and is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Suggested admission is $2, and free off-street parking is available. For more information, please call 703.838.4994 or visit www.alexandriahistory.org.