Some of you know that 22 February (next Tuesday) is a significant date in Girl Scouting and Guiding because it is when Girl Scouts and Guides celebrate World Thinking Day. It is a day set aside annually, as the Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) explain, to “celebrate international friendships” and remind Girl Scouts they are part of a larger community.
Thinking Day, as it was initially called, began at Camp Edith Macy in New York in 1926, when representatives from international Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding came together. It was the fourth such gathering, but the first time that World Camp was held outside of England.
World Camp was extremely important to Juliette Gordon Low, who felt strongly that Girl Scouting and Guiding could help bring about global understanding and peace. The first World Camp (called the International Council then) was begun by Olave Baden-Powell in 1919, not long after World War I ended. The war–and the influenza pandemic that followed–were so horrific that people all over sought ways to make sure there would never again be such terrible bloodshed. Robert Baden-Powell, Olave Baden-Powell, and Juliette Gordon Low were among the leaders who believed that if young people grew up with friends from other countries, it might lessen the likelihood of conflict. Hence, World Camp, which brought together girls and adult leaders from Asia, Europe, the Americas, and beyond.
In 1926, Juliette Low was fighting hard against the cancer that would claim her life. Bringing the World Camp to the United States was both a personal goal and the culmination of her last decade’s worth of thinking about how to preserve peace through international understanding. She wanted to break the lock that England had on holding the World Camp. She also hoped to show off the wonderful system of Girl Scout camps in America–one of the proudest aspects of the GSUSA.
Because of the hard work of many dedicated Girl Scout leaders, Juliette Low did live to see the 4th World Camp take place at the newly constructed Camp Edith Macy. Robert and Olave Baden-Powell were among the special guests. As girls and leaders spent time together informally, they learned about each other’s cultures. When they participated in rituals special to Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding, they cemented bonds that stretched around the globe.
|Juliette Gordon Low (far right) helping to plant a tree in remembrance on Thinking Day 1926 at Camp Edith Macy.|
And when they set aside February 22nd every year for Thinking Day, they hoped it would be a reminder to pause and consider far-flung friends, the Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding sisterhood, and the importance of worldwide peace.
Next week’s blog will explain why they chose February 22nd. If you know, don’t tell!!!
World Thinking Day patch: http://www.girlscoutshop.com/
Photo of Camp Edith Macy in 1926 used through the kind permission of the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, Girl Scout National Center, Savannah, Georgia. It is found on their Facebook page : http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=322861945669&set=a.60344900669.83513.53933760669