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Girl Scouts Celebrate 100 Years of Service In Denton County


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Matt Payne, Denton Record Chronicle

Mary Helen Horne, a Girl Scout of 49 years in Tennessee, Texas and Florida, introduced every girl as they walked across the Bayless-Selby House Museum's front porch wearing classic uniforms Saturday in Denton.

The uniforms changed about every five to six years, Horne said, to keep up with modern fashion. Garments such as dresses and bloomers developed to be more practical for venturing outdoors instead of simply being adorable.

Horne, who is affiliated with the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and Texas Oklahoma Plains, donned a replica uniform the founder of Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, wore.

Horne commented on how her uniform and the early navy blue uniforms of Scouts were inspired heavily by the military, considering how the Scouts did a lot of community service during war times.

"[Low] realized that this was something for the girls in America, and at the time, most girls stayed home. They didn't go out and do things like the boys did," Horne said. "She was really pro-girls -- what they could do and how they could serve others."

The Girl Scouts of Northeast Denton conducted the vintage fashion show as they celebrated 100 years since the city's first troop was formed.

Women who were Scouts as far back as the 1960s were in attendance as girls donned vintage uniforms and historians elaborated on the history of the organization.

Women also were given the Woman of Distinction award for their years of service, which is the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.

These women and fellow Scouts filled the museum with stories to share about their time as members.

Horne, who received a Woman of Distinction award, used the image of Low putting curtains around her carriage house garden so girls could take off their skirts with their bloomers on to play basketball and other games, something unheard of in the early 1900s.

She couldn't pinpoint one memory when asked about what stood out as a young Girl Scout, but Horne had plenty of vivid visions of what it was like wandering into the wilderness, something she said girls traditionally were not able to do.

"The outdoors: walking on pine needles and cooking over a fire -- and we still eat s'mores," Horne said. "That's been going on for a very long time. It's an entrepreneurship that's the largest girl-led company in the world."

She reckoned most would be surprised by the number of Girl Scouts spread across Denton County.

One of the most valuable attributes to having modern-day Girl Scouts, she said, is their persistent presence at events such as flag ceremonies, holiday festivals and efforts to help the homeless, to exhibit community service.

"We're really big on community services and helping others," Horne said.

Exhibits in the museum detailed ways area Scouts have worked to exhibit these values. One Scout relayed the story of Mary "Leta" Bayless, who owned the Bayless-Selby House and became the captain of Denton Girl Scout Troop No. 2 in June 1921. Scouts could earn new badges from hearing stories at these stations.

For a music badge, Girl Scout Jackie Brown sang the anthem of the organization, "On my Honor," and explained the values written in the song for passers-by. Brown, a member of the Tejas Riders at Camp Bette Perot, helps rehabilitate rescue horses not to fear human interaction and teaches Girl Scouts who visit how to ride and act around horses.

The mission of the Girl Scouts since 1912, as several Scouts said Saturday, has remained, "What are you interested in, and what are you going to do with that?"

"Tejas Riders has been a place for me to feel at home and become a leader," said Brown, who is working toward her Silver Award.

Audrey Jones, who was a Brownie-rank Girl Scout in the mid-1960s, attended the celebration. She was a Scout when black troops and white troops were integrating, and she joined the first integrated troop in Denton.

Beyond integration, improved race relations was something she hoped the organization has worked to establish.

"I pray that it's more advanced now," Jones said. "I would think that color is not a really big issue in this day and age, but it probably always will be."

What was so special about the organization for Jones was the simplicity of camping in the great outdoors, completing tasks to earn badges, selling cookies and following one's personal mission to achieve goals.

The age-old motto of "Be prepared" is one Jones strives to follow throughout her everyday life to this day.

"Believe it or not, I guess I was blind to the color thing," she said. "But Girl Scouts altogether was really something motivating. To be in the first integrated Girl Scout troop wasn't really anything different for me because I was already used to being with all different races and religions."

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