On My Honor'
Words spoken 100 years ago in a simple phone call continue to reverberate around the world today.
"Come right over! I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight."
Those were the words of Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low to her cousin Nina Anderson Pape in 1912.
In celebration of that organization's centennial, a record-breaking quarter-million Girl Scouts from every state and several countries converged to "Rock the Mall" in Washington, D. C. on June 9 and 10, where their voices joined together in saying the Pledge of Allegiance and singing "The Star Spangled Banner."
Girl Scouts from Pocahontas County were in that number, taking in the sites of our nation's capital, visiting all the War Memorials and monuments, the Smithsonian museums, watching the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery, visiting the grave of President John F. Kennedy, as well as having lunch at the Capitol.
"These were things that the girls had learned about in school," Hillsboro Troop #2661 leader Susan McMillion said. "But on this trip, they actually got to see them."
Each troop crafted items to "swap" with other Girl Scouts.ﾠ McMillion's troop made blue and gold bracelets with WV on them, red, white and blue ribbon bracelets with stars, among other swaps.ﾠ True to Girl Scout tradition, McMillion reports that one troop at the gathering had made foam s'mores, replicas of the longtime favorite treat.
The celebration was attended by scouts of all ages - Daisies, Brownies, Cadets and Senior Girl Scouts. Brownies made up the largest group from Hillsboro.
Fundraisers allowed the girls, parents, siblings and chaperones to travel in style aboard Abbot Trailways chartered buses.
The 1987 Pioneer Days Badge featured the Girl Scouts who were then celebrating the organization's 75th Anniversary.
The brochure that year stated that "in 1912 when Juliette Gordon Low began the first Girl Scout troop in Savannah, Georgia, she started a tradition unparalleled in the history of American women. She initiated an informal education program of girls working in partnerships with adults that would cross all cultural groups within the United States."
That is Low's legacy.
Girl Scouting continues today in Pocahontas County through the dedication of leaders and parents who want their daughter to embrace "values such as honesty and fairness, inspired with the highest ideals of character, conduct, patriotism and service."
The 100th anniversary celebration was bittersweet for the leader of Marlinton's Girl Scout Troop #5032.
Lana Moore Barlow, a longtime scout leader, dedicated a good portion of her life to making a difference in the lives of young girls, and her legacy, as well as Low's, lives on.
Barlow became a Girl Scout leader in 1976, and continued in that work until her death in October 2011.
The plans she helped to set in motion during her final months were carried out, in part, by her twin sister and scout leader Linda Moore Friel.
"We had a wonderful time," said Friel. "The mothers loved the trip as much as the kids."
Emily Casto is a member of Troop #5032, and she was a part of the celebration.
"The trip to Washington, DC, was awesome," Casto said. "It was fun to see so many Girl Scouts in one place. Girl Scouts is a fun activity that teaches you to share and help others and gives you the chance to do lots of fun things."
Last week's trip was not the first for Girl Scouts in Pocahontas County.
Barlow and Friel took their scouts to Washington for the 90th and 95th celebrations, as well, and the memories of Barlow's work in scouting last a lifetime.
In 1986, Janelle Eister, Mary Broyles [Hill] and Barlow's daughter, Tammi, were recognized as the first Gold Scouts in Pocahontas County. Those three girls had a combined total of 2,200 hours of service to their community, to Girl Scouting and to their church.
A 1987 article commended Mary and Tammi as having "the honor of being the only Girl Scouts in Pocahontas County to have been members of a Girl Scout Troop each year they were in school."
"Tammi and I started in Girl Scouts in the first grade," Hill said.
"We stayed in it, and Lana was our leader through the whole 12 years."
Hill recalls Barlow as being very dedicated, and the events as "always exciting."
"We went on a lot of trips," she said.
And those trips included the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, a visit to the Savannah, Georgia home of Girl Scout founder Low, which included a stay in Charleston, South Carolina, where they bunked, like sailors, on the Yorktown.
"Back when we sold cookies, we went door-to-door, we sold hundreds of boxes each," Mary said. "We had dances to fund our trips and we never had to take money from our own pockets."
The Pocahontas County Community Club was very supportive, as well, holding shooting matches and donating the proceeds to the scouts.
Hill told of activities she attended at Barlow's house that helped the girls earn badges.
"My sash is completely full," she said. "She was more like a mother, and she was very dedicated."
Fundraising for trips and activities continues today, Friel said.
In addition to selling cookies, the Girl Scouts held a successful bake-off, sold nuts, wreaths and live garland, and even crosses for graves.
Girl Scouting is often a family matter - sister-to-sister, and mother-to-daughter.
It was Barlow who invited retired Pocahontas County High School math teacher Kathy McGee to get involved with scouting when her daughters, Megan and Heather, were young.
Now a mother herself, Megan McGee Burgess, of Wardensville, Virginia, says she has come full-circle.
"It was the 75th year of Girl Scouting when I joined as a Daisy, and now I get to continue the journey with my daughter, Olivia, as she begins as a Daisy in this wonderful year of the 100th celebration," Burgess said.
Burgess is the leader of Olivia's troop, encouraging a new generation of young ladies to be "a sister to every Girl Scout and teaching them that as long as you believe in yourself, you can overcome the challenges you face in life."
Pocahontas County Girl Scouts will be honored in this year's Pioneer Day Parade on Saturday, July 7.
In recognition of Barlow's work and dedication, a moment of silence will be observed in her honor on Girl Scout Day, Saturday, August 18, during the flag-raising ceremony at the West Virginia State Fair.
Although Troop #5032 has recited the Girl Scout Pledge many times, thanks to AmeriCorps VISTA Emily Newton, they also know the Pledge in sign language, Friel said.
Millions of young girls around the world recite the pledge, and many dedicated leaders work to help them live by its words, and perhaps none more so than Pocahontas County's own Lana Moore Barlow.
"On My Honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law."