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Girl Scouts Are Full of Stars, Mine is Miss Hazel

Monday, March 12, 2012

Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia, 100 years ago today. To mark the anniversary, Diane Loupe lovingly recalls a troop leader who told corny jokes and taught her to battle back the demons of dejection.




(WOMENSENEWS)--Hazel Dewey was an outrageous woman in an area that set the bar high.

As a Girl Scout leader in suburban New Orleans, she told corny jokes or wore outrageous costumes to get a laugh out of her girls.

But the thing I will remember forever about Miss Hazel is not outrageous. It's the quiet words of wisdom she offered to a lonely, sad girl one day in the piney woods of Louisiana.

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I was always a sensitive child, my feelings too easily hurt, and that day, I sat alone in the woods nursing some slight or the other. I don't remember why I was brooding, but I do remember feeling mighty sorry for myself.

Miss Hazel (in the South, we always called adults Miss or Mister) sat down on a pine log next to me. But instead of feeding my self-pity, she told me that feeling sorry for myself was not going to get me anywhere worth going in this life. She advised me to exit my pity party, take responsibility for my own feelings and rejoin the other Girl Scouts who were enjoying this particular campout.

Years later, when I wrote my former Girl Scout leader to thank her for these words of wisdom, she bawled like a baby.

Miss Hazel has some good company among the Girl Scout sisterhood. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, astronaut Mae Jemison, network anchor Katie Couric, 10 of 17 women in the United States Senate, 45 of 75 women in the House of Representatives, including Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), and Congresswomen Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) and Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.), and 53 percent of all women who own U.S. businesses are former Girl Scouts, according to Girl Scouts of the USA.

All those remarkable women were helped along by a Georgia girl named Juliette Gordon Low who, 100 years ago today, founded the Girl Scouts in Savannah.

Daisy, as Low was known, was a plucky woman for her time. When her husband died and left his estate to his mistress, Low was one of the first women of her time to successfully challenge the will and win. In England, she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, and was impressed with the youth group. Baden-Powell thought girls didn't have the skill to be called scouts, but Low thought otherwise, and called her movement the Girl Scouts. She famously sold her pearl necklace to finance the fledgling organization.

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