Members of Girl Scouts Junior Troop 67712 and Cadette Troop 72102 from the Brooks School, Andrews Middle School and McGlynn Middle School, all in Medford, Massachusetts, honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and learned about the Civil Rights Movement during an overnight winter lodge camping experience on Sunday, January 19 – Monday, January 20, 2020. Troop leaders Tracy Keene, Diane Cervati, Patricia Wheeler, Veronica Hunt and Paul Ruseau, also a member of the Medford School Committee, organized this troop outing at the GSEMA Camp Runels in Pelham, New Hampshire as a learning and service experience.
Troop 67712 co-leader Tracy Keene said, “We thought it was very important for our girls to learn about civil rights during this weekend honoring King’s legacy. The girls worked on two civil rights badges, Four Little Girls and Civil Rights History. They also earned a Martin Luther King, Jr. patch and patches for Winter Camping, Homeless Awareness, and Wildfire Relief.”
Boston University professor of political science and Medford resident Timothy Longman led the eighteen girls in a discussion on Sunday on civil rights. Professor Longman provided a history of slavery, Jim Crow and the civil rights movement. The girls listened to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” discussed prominent African American women, and learned about the September 15, 1963, bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four girls. Carole Robertson, one of the girls killed, was an active Girl Scout.
The girls, ranging in age of 10-12 years old, also studied about segregation and civil rights in the Girls Scouts USA. Using material from the Girl Scouts Museum in Waltham, MA, the girls discovered disagreements over whether the first integrated troop in the US was the Red Rose Troop founded by Miss Emma Hall in New Bedford, MA, in 1913 – the third Girl Scout troop in the country – or a later troop in 1924. The girls were surprised to learn that even in Massachusetts, many troop remained racially segregated until the 1950s.
In addition to learning about civil rights, the troops participated in projects for the MLK Day of Service. They made pine cone bird feeders to hang around the snow-covered campsite. They also sorted and assembled care packages for the unhoused community. The troops are partnering with Ari Barbanell, Medford Resident and the Executive Director of the Winter Walk, to see that the care packages are distributed to members of our community who have found themselves without shelter during these winter months. Winter Walk is an initiative to raise funds and awareness about homelessness and will be held February 9 in Copley Square.
In addition, the girls made posters of encouragement and concern for the Girls Scouts and Girl Guides in New South Wales, Australia. The girls learned that at least 28 people have died in Australia and more than 3,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged in the state of New South Wales alone and that millions of wildlife have be impacted. The posters will be shared on the Facebook pages of Australian Girl Scouts and Girl Guides and mailed to their Council.
After the trip, Anna Shanley, said about her daughter, “Sofia still can’t stop talking about it and she really learned a lot of valuable lessons.”