By Helen Jiang, Erika Peters and Louis Walker
The Girl Scouts of Nassau County will be displaying a historical exhibit called “100 Years: Empowering Girls Through the Decades” in order to celebrate their 100th anniversary.
The exhibition will highlight a collection of vintage Girl Scout uniforms, patches, artifacts, and photos. The displays opened on the Girl Scout’s anniversary date of March 12 and will be shown until the last week of March at three Nassau locations: the Hicksville Athletic Center in Oyster Bay the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola, and the Yes We Can Community Center in North Hempstead.
“Celebrating and reflecting on 100 years allows girls to think about what it must have been like to be a girl 100 years ago, which is kind of mind blowing,” Rande Bynum, CEO of the Nassau County Girl Scouts, said. “It also gives girls an opportunity to think about what they want their legacy to be 100 years from now, and what girl’s roles will be in society. This is a really unique time in history for girls to use their voices, and we really encourage them to find that strength and inner voice.”
The first Nassau County Girl Scout Troop was formed in Lynbrook around 1918, becoming an early part of what would become a widespread youth movement.
“We have a picture of the first troop and it appears to be composed of three adult volunteers and 11 girls,” Cassie Colgan, interactive media and marketing senior manager of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, said. “We do not have records of who they are or how they got involved.” Today there are 1500 troops in Nassau County and in the last 100 years, over two million women have been Girl Scouts in Nassau, she said.
Between 1924 and 1926, the Nassau County Council officially formed, with North Nassau Council, Central Nassau Council, South Nassau Council, and Mid Island Council following years later. By 1977, all the councils merged into what is today called Girl Scouts of Nassau County.
“I’m happy that it’s the 100th year and it didn’t end at the first troop,” Courtney Vines, a Nassau County girl scout from Floral Park, said. “I think’s different now because there’s more troops and more girls participating, and back then it was so different because of the clothes they had to wear, and the cookie boxes and stuff. It was all different.”
Nassau County hosted a ceremony on March 18 at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building, where the building’s dome was lit up green, the Girl Scout’s signature color, for the occasion. The lighting was kicked off by County Executive of Nassau Laura Curran.
“One hundred years is a big deal here in Nassau County,” Curran said. “It shows how old we really are as a county and how much the girl scouts are a part of how we’ve grown in Nassau. It helps to build more strong, self-reliant women, which I think we need more of.”
Many of patches displayed at the exhibits were earned by early girl scouts for outdoor activities such as camping. Today, many of the badges girl scouts can earn are for activities in technology, science, engineering and math.
“I feel like they probably did a lot more camping, but camping’s still fun,” Christina Grasso, a Nassau County girl scout, said. “We get to do a bit more STEM things, while they probably did a little bit more outdoor things. I feel like now girls get the option to use technology too. I enjoy doing computer programming.”
“It’s a different experience than I remember when I was a girl making blueberry muffins and taking bike rides,” Bynum said. “Today girls are really building themselves and exploring the world to who they’re going to be when they grow up.”
The Hempstead Town Hall also briefly displayed the pop-up exhibit from March 11 to March 15.
“Establishing a pop-up museum…helps shine a well-deserved spotlight on the rich history of the Girl Scouts and the amazing impact this organization has had on our community,” Joseph Saladino, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor, said in press release.