It began on February 17, 1927—the first Girl Scout meeting held in East Rochester. The movement begun by Julliette Low in Savannah, Georgia, in 1912 spread quickly all over the country with the first troop organized in Rochester in 1918.
The first troop in our community was organized by Mrs. Guy Grafton Chapman. Forty-eight girls came to the Baptist Church for the first meeting. A year later the group of 60 girls was divided into three troops. The troops were sponsored by the Jules Verne Fish Post 896 American Legion Auxiliary. Various village groups and individuals helped with finances, gifts, and the loan of equipment, including: Hart’s Grocery, the Rialto Theater, Elite Bakery, Fryatts Store, Muller the Florist, Village Board, Board of Education, the Moose Lodge, the ER Herald, and the Baptist, Methodist, and Catholic Churches. Paper drives and baked food sales also helped with funding. Laura King donated money for the banner and Dora Wood paid the first registration fee. It was truly a community effort.
By 1957, 17 troops were meeting in the Fryatt House basement, the CYA, and the Baptist Church. Sponsors included: PTA, College Club, Cornell Study Club, St. Jerome’s Rosary Society, Rotary, and the ER Home Demonstration Extension Bureau. By 1962, there were 19 troops, with 400 girls participating, and 100 adults volunteering to help. By 1967, a total of 15 troops existed at levels of Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors. 1987 saw 120 girls participating with a new level called Daisies offered for kindergarteners. Meetings were held at the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist Churches. More recently, Girl Scouting has become available for those in grades K-12 with the Ambassador level for high school seniors. At the present time the effects of COVID-19 have caused a drop in participation. Currently, there are about 55 girls in approximately 8 troops (with the help of 15 volunteers) involved in East Rochester’s program.
Proficiency badges and awards have always been an important part of Girl Scouting. During the early years the Golden Eaglet was the highest award. The first two ER girls to receive the award were Daisy Bagley and Dorothy Saunders (who later became our village historian). Proficiency badges served to mark the steps of a Girl Scout’s progress and demonstrated ways the girls could help others. Badges reflected the times. In the 1930s, badges were given for being a hostess, dressmaker, or child nurse. By the 1950s and 60s, a broader range of interests were represented, including: child care, cooking, community service, collector, active citizen, pets, foot traveler, and backyard fun. By the 1990s, badges represented different world experiences and a greater variety of choices, just as women’s roles were changing in society. Now badges are given for math in nature, cookie business, and digital leadership with science, engineering, technology, and math represented. In today’s society, girls can do anything they set their minds to.
Without the help of many volunteers our community would not have been able to have Girl Scouting. Over the years the leadership of many women supported the program. Some of those who helped in leadership positions include: E. Retta Fryatt, Dora Wood, Mrs. William Greeley, Mrs. Norman Steve, Mrs. Myron Volpe, Mrs. Robert Schick, Mrs. Walter Swift, Mrs. Jean Smith, Mrs. Ruth Nevin, Mrs. Carol Jackman, and Mrs. Marilyn Amberger. As Mrs. Chapman said almost 100 years ago, “the Girl Scout movement seeks to give to each of its members a philosophy which will enable her to face each day with a brave heart.” Through a range of experiences from community service, camping, sports, arts and crafts, learning new things, and even selling cookies, the Scouts have the opportunity to develop skills and help each other. The program has remained a significant part of life. The words of the motto “be prepared” and the slogan “do a good turn daily” continue to be as applicable today as they were 95 years ago.
If you wish to learn more about Girl Scouting in East Rochester today, you may do so via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Julie Eckerson 249-0403.