Hats on for Girl Scouts at Governor's Mansion event

It's not clear if there will be cookies, but there will probably be lots of sweet memories at the Mad Hatter Tea Party for current and former Girl Scouts set for 3-5 p.m. Saturday at the Governor's Mansion.

Nevada's first lady Dema Guinn will be inducted as an honorary Girl Scout during the event.

Attendees are encouraged to wear hats, be whimsical and have fun, said Jim Lai, director of marketing and community affairs.

One organizer, Sherry Kuehl, said Brownie beanies or Girl Scout berets would definitely be appropriate.

Many former Girl Scouts have risen to top positions in government, business and technological fields, among them first lady Laura Bush, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner and space shuttle Discovery astronaut Lt. Col. Eileen Collins.

Deputy State Attorney General Gina Session credits the Girl Scouts for starting her on the road to success, first as a Brownie in the 1960s and later as a field director for the organization, organizing troops in the Sacramento area. She is currently a member of the board of directors for Girl Scouts Sierra Nevada.

"It was a tremendously good experience," she said. "I have fond memories of being a Brownie. I was so proud of my uniform."

Session described how, at each meeting during her Brownie membership, the den had a little review to make sure each girl was properly dressed.

Session said the Girl Scouts have changed quite a bit since then.

"I'm very impressed with the leadership that the girls are taught and the opportunities girls are given," she said. "Girls had the opportunity to be with other girls and learn leadership skills."

Session also said she continued to learn from the organization as an employee.

"It is an excellent organization in terms of the management skills that I learned," she said.

At the tea party, there will be a display of old Girl Scout photos of Nevada troops from the 1940s, '50s and '60s. The party's hosts will be current Girl Scouts dressed in the original 1912 uniforms. Girl Scouts from all generations will have a chance to share their stories and favorite memories about being a Girl Scout, from the cookie sales to the camp to what you had to do to earn those badges. Alumnae can also display their vests and sashes from their time in the organization.

A talk will be given on the current status of the organization.

The event celebrates more than 93 years of Girl Scouting. The organization was created on March 12, 1912, by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Ga. Low believed that girls could do anything and she worked to instill that belief and a commitment to service in those first scouts, who passed it on through the generations.

More than 50 million women have shared the experience of Girl Scouts since those first 18 members.

Noting the shifts in the Girl Scout programs over the years, Session says it is a credit to the organization that it was able to change.

"It's very impressive how the Girl Scout organization has adapted over the years to meet the needs of the girls today," she said. "Today the focus is more on giving girls the opportunity to experience things and be involved in their communities."

She also gave the organization credit for becoming more multicultural over the years. "In the distant past it was considered a white, middle-class organization, and they've done a lot of work to ensure it is available to girls in all communities."

n Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.

Go Mad

WHAT: Mad Hatter Tea Party

WHEN: 3-5 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Governor's Mansion, 606 N. Mountain St.

CALL: (775) 322-0642 ext. 225

COST: $20 per person


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