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early girl scouting hero

About Early Girl Scouting

Birth of a Movement

A meeting in 1911 with Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, changed the course of Daisy’s life. Like Daisy, he enjoyed sculpting, nature, the outdoors, and the company of young people. They had a lot to talk about! Baden-Powell suggested she work with Girl Guides in England and Scotland, the sister group to Boy Scouts, which was first organized by his sister Agnes in 1910 at his request. Daisy jumped right in, starting Girl Guide troops in London and rural Scotland.

In 1912 she sailed home to Savannah from England, determined to bring Girl Guiding to the United States. Telephoning her cousin, Nina Pape, from her home, she announced, "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!"

From that first gathering of 18 girls from her cousin’s school on March 12, 1912, Daisy broke the conventions of the time—reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure all girls, including those with so-called disabilities, had a place to grow and develop their leadership skills.

Whenever there was a question about what to do next, Daisy always said “ask the girls.” It was the girls themselves who decided they wanted to be called “Scouts” in America instead of “Guides,” and the name was officially changed to Girl Scouts in the United States in 1913.

Daisy worked tirelessly to grow the new organization and for many years used her own money to pay expenses, even selling her valuable pearl necklace when she was short of funds. Using her innate talent for fundraising and public relations, combined with her vast network of friends and supporters, Daisy led Girl Scouts with passion and determination—ensuring it was, and always would be, an experience that was “girl led.”

An Enduring Legacy

Daisy died January 17, 1927, at home in Savannah, Georgia, after a long and private struggle with breast cancer. Two hundred Girl Scouts attended her funeral. She was buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery, wearing her Girl Scout uniform.

Daisy is remembered today with camps, schools, and scholarships established in her honor. Other tributes include postage stamps, a World War II battleship, numerous biographies, and even an opera about her life. In 2012, 85 years after her death, Daisy was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her services to the nation by President Barack Obama.