St. Louis, MO – May 14, 2018 – The sun shone bright Saturday morning as thousands of eastern Missouri Girl Scouts, family members, adult volunteers and community supporters gathered at the corner of Washington Avenue and Memorial Drive in downtown St. Louis—standing on their toes and craning their heads to get a glimpse of the Eads Bridge, as they waited for this history-making event to begin.
On Saturday, May 12, more than 2,100 registered Girl Scouts, volunteers and other supporters of girl empowerment crossed the iconic Eads Bridge in celebration of a century of Girl Scouting in eastern Missouri. This significant milestone in the organization’s legacy of building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place has been achieved by remaining true to the Girl Scout mission. For some event participants, this was not only an opportunity to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouting but a special ceremony in which a Girl Scout advances from one grade level to the next. During these ceremonies, girls often walk over a bridge or a similar structure.
“Our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, established Girl Scouts more than a hundred years ago with an emphasis on inclusiveness, the outdoors, self-reliance and service,” said Bonnie Barczykowski, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. “I believe she would be so proud of our Girl Scouts today. Her legacy lives on through the amazing work our girls are doing in their eastern Missouri communities. The event at the Eads Bridge was not only a celebration of the longevity of our organization, but a celebration of the achievement, service and leadership of our Girl Scouts. Since our founding, we’ve served more than one million young women.”
As the thousands of Girl Scouts aged kindergarten through 12th grade grabbed their water bottles, pulled their baseball hats lower on their heads and laughed with friends, they took their first steps on the bridge which marked a defining moment in their Girl Scouting experience. These girls, whether they are Daisies in their first year of Girl Scouts or Ambassadors preparing for their last month of high school, are always trying new things, gaining, growing and building leadership skills, and working hard to generate positive changes in their community.
Girl Scout Aubrie Hart was one of eight young women serving in the Color Guard for the event. The Color Guard led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Girl Scout Promise during the welcome ceremony—this specific Color Guard was made up of all Gold Award Girl Scouts. These young women have transformed an idea for change into an actionable plan with a measurable and sustainable impact at the local, national or global level thereby earning the highest award in Girl Scouting. Earning the Girl Scout Gold Award requires at least 80 hours of service and often spans months or even years. Some of the projects completed this year by the organization’s Gold Award Girl Scouts include improving the quality of life for young children diagnosed with cancer in New Delhi, India; restoring a St. Peters wetland by planting hundreds of trees in a local lake; and building the confidence of young children with learning disabilities through swim classes.
“My favorite part of the event was being able to lead every Girl Scout and volunteer across the Eads Bridge,” Hart said. “Not only was this event historical for Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, it was for myself as well. During the Council-wide bridging ceremony, I bridged from an Ambassador to a Girl Scout alum and lifetime member of an organization that has helped me become the leader I am today.”
An hour after the event started, some participants completed the mile-long walk and returned to the Gateway Arch Park grounds to enjoy a variety of activities and food trucks. Throughout the afternoon, Girl Scouts ducked in and out of the MilliporeSigma’s Curiosity Cube, experimenting with the STEM (science, technology, science and math)-related projects offered in this mobile science lab. Girl Scouts also had a chance to hear from representatives from HEROES in Action, Inc. and experience some of the living history from the National Blues Museum.
In 1918, 11 girls and an adult volunteer met at a church off Washington Avenue and formed the first troop in eastern Missouri. The small gathering of Girl Scouts in a church off Washington is now the sixth largest of 112 Girl Scout Councils nationwide. Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri is 55,000 strong—40,000 girls and 15,000 adults who believe in the power of every go-getter, innovator, risk-taker and leader.