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The Girl Scouts of the USA
are far more than a unique cookie delivery service, and on Monday, the organization celebrates 100 years of providing girls with confidence and character and molding them into leaders.
“In the Girl Scouts of the USA, you find out what you’re made of,” said Communications Specialist Melanie Glover. “You find out what you’re capable of and get a lot of opportunities you wouldn’t have in everyday life.”
Whether those opportunities include camping trips or community service, Glover said the organization remains timely, focusing on building skills in science, technology, engineering and math so that girls have the confidence and capability to become leaders as they progress in life.
The local council accounts for about 29,000 members in the 18 counties around Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto, Glover said. An additional 10,000 people volunteer with the organization, including serving as troop leaders.
Many of the events surrounding the 100th anniversary are specifically for the scouts, but one of the ones open to the public will feature 500 girls singing on the west steps of the Capitol from 3 - 5 p.m. on Sunday. They will also lead the St. Patrick's Day parade in Old Sacramento.
“We will have a singalong with the Sacramento Women’s Chorus,” Glover said. “The women’s chorus will sing a song they have specifically about the 100th anniversary, and there will be traditional Girl Scout songs as well.”
One woman who is no stranger to celebrating Girl Scout milestones is 85-year-old Barby Pulliam of El Dorado Hills, who joined the organization 75 years ago.
“I think it’s marvelous, and I’m glad I’m around to see it,” she said. “When I joined, they were celebrating their 25th anniversary.”
In the past 75 years as a Girl Scout, Pulliam has traveled to Africa eight or nine times to teach solar cooking and participated in myriad events, but she said one sticks out above all the rest.
“At the 85th anniversary in Washington, D.C., I led 100,000 girls in our big song program,” she said. “That was really a thrill, because we had them going in four parts.”
In a century of the organization’s existence, Pulliam said, a lot has changed.
“The badges changed, for one,” she said. “We have all sorts of badges to meet the needs of today’s girl. Before, one of the badges was the Dairy Maid badge.”
Vintage uniforms and badges are on display at the Girl Scout center at 6601 Elvas Ave., Glover said, adding that anyone is welcome, and many of the older clothes can be tried on.
“For some people who come here, it’s really a trip down memory lane,” Glover said.
Pulliam said that, despite all the change she and the organization have seen, one thing remains central to the organization.
“I think the biggest impact is that the program gives them confidence and self-assurance, which is absolutely vital,” she said.
With 3.5 million Girl Scouts in the United States and more than 10 million in 148 countries worldwide, Pulliam said the organization is still growing.
Samita Dutta, a 16-year-old Girl Scout from El Dorado Hills, said she enjoys the community service aspect of the organization.
“I had a trash pickup event at a local lake in my community, and I had to organize the whole event: have volunteers, get food for them and learn how to manage and organize the event,” she said.
She added that her next project will be planting trees in an area where there was a fire a year ago, and she will have to get donations, trees and volunteers.
As a delegate for the local council, Dutta said she went to the national Girl Scout conference in Texas last year, giving input along with other scouts on how the organization operates.
“It was cool to meet other girls and make camaraderie with them,” she said. “We are all really good friends and share the same love of the Girl Scouts.”
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell.
Editorial Note: Corrections were made to this article after it was published. The incorrect information was struck out and the correct information added.