World Thinking Day: The Girl Scout International Holiday
Girl Guiding began in 1909, when a group of girls protested outside a Boy Scout rally at the Crystal Palace in London. Their brothers were Scouts, and they wanted to be Scouts, too. Many of them had begun to wear makeshift Scout uniforms and participate in Scouting activities. The Boy Scout Gazette responded scathingly: “If a girl is not allowed to run, or even hurry, to swim, ride a bike, or raise her arms above her head, how can she become a Scout?”
But Robert, Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement, thought otherwise, and he began to organize what he named Girl Guiding, with his sister Agnes. A little later he married a young woman named Olave, who became the first World Chief Guide and the true innovator and leader in Girl Guiding. The two of them together grew Boy Scouting and Girl Guiding/Scouting into an enormous global movement, spanning dozens of countries and time zones and cultures. Lady Baden-Powell outlived her husband, and came to India in 1966 to open Sangam (at age 78!). She was devoted to the end of her life to the millions of young women who admired her, emulated her, and followed her movement. Today, 10 million girls are Girl Guides or Girl Scouts and 1.5 million adults serve as volunteers. And every year, all of these individuals celebrate what is known as Founder’s Day in the Boy Scouts and World Thinking Day in the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
February 22nd happened to be both Lord and Lady Baden-Powell’s birthdays, and so Thinking Day is a day to honor the founding of our movement, and the two people who were the initiators and driving forces behind Scouting and Guiding worldwide. It’s also the time to think about the scope of that movement–literally, do some “world thinking” and remember the millions of fellow Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world, working towards the same goals and following the same principles. A day to remember that we are a global family, united under our World Flag and by our Promise and Law.
We had an amazing World Thinking Day here at Sangam, as you can imagine–where better to celebrate global Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting than at a World Centre dedicated to bringing together Guides and Scouts from across the world? We celebrated with over 300 Bharat Scouts and Guides, twenty-four event participants, all of the Tare, and all of the staff. I was chosen to write up the official Sangam blog post on the day; it took quite a personal turn, and I would love it if you all went to read it here to discover all the awesome things we did on Thinking Day, as well as the depth of my feeling about the day.
I also made the video capturing Thinking Day, which you can watch below! But I recommend you check out the blog post beforehand to really understand the sentiments and the reasoning; Jen said it nearly made her cry, if that kind of endorsement means much to you!