Girl Scouts at 100: Full steam ahead
“A Century of Girls Leading the Way: Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouting (1912-2012),” runs through Dec. 31 at the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest. | RICH HEIN ~ SUN-TIMES
‘A Century of Girls Leading the Way:
Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouting
Through Dec. 31
Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest, 217 Home Ave., Oak Park
Admission: $5-$10; kids under 5, free
(708) 848-6755; oprfhistory.org
It’s been 100 years since Juliette Gordon Lowe founded the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Ga.
Troops across the country have been celebrating with special exhibits and events, so it’s fitting that the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest joined the celebration. Troops have been existence in Oak Park since 1920 — just eight years after the founding. Today 1,500 girls in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park participate in 100 troops.
“A Century of Girls Leading the Way: Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouting (1912-2012),” running through Dec. 31, takes a now-and-then approach to scouting, according to curator Peggy Tuck Sinko. A lifelong Girl Scout member, Sinko is vice president of the historical society and a retired Newberry Library historian. Scouting is her passion along with history.
“I have been a member for 55 years,” she said. “I was a Brownie back in Indiana and have been involved as an adult here at the council in Oak Park for probably 30-plus years” even though she doesn’t have any daughters. Her son was active in Boy Scouts.
The exhibit “is sort of a perfect storm in terms of a topic for me because it combines two of my great loves: being a Girl Scout and the history,” Sinko said. “I knew early on that we needed to commemorate this, in part because a hundredth anniversary is significant.”
The one-room exhibit encourages visitors to think about how scouting is the same today as it was 100 years ago and how it is different, Sinko said. The displays include old uniforms, badge sashes, badges, activities, camping equipment (including a tableau of 1960s campsite) and, of course, cookies. Exhibit items came from the historical society’s collections as well as from residents and the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, one of the organization’s largest councils.
Sinko hopes that visitors leave with a sense of the continuity that scouting has provided to generations of women.
“The idea [is] to focus on the girls and the fun of scouting — the activities and the learning and just kind of pushing you outside of your comfort level, whether it’s going camping or trying an activity that maybe you didn’t want to do,” Sinko said.
Items on display show “the power that an organization like this — that really focuses on girls — can have,” she said. “It really can be a life-changing experience for kids.”