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Girl Scouts at 100: Full steam ahead

“A Century Girls Leading Way: Celebrating 100 Years Girl Scouting (1912-2012)” runs through Dec. 31 Historical Society Oak Park River

“A Century of Girls Leading the Way: Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouting (1912-2012),” runs through Dec. 31 at the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest. | RICH HEIN ~ SUN-TIMES

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‘A Century of Girls Leading the Way:
Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouting

♦ Through Dec. 31
♦ Historical Society of Oak Park & River Forest, 217 Home Ave., Oak Park

♦ Admission: $5-$10; kids under 5, free

♦ (708) 848-6755;

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It’s been 100 years since Juliette Gordon Lowe founded the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Ga. Troops across the country have been celebrating with special exhibits and events throughout the year, so it’s fitting that the Historical Society of Oak Park & River Forest joined the celebration. Troops have been in existence in Oak Park since 1920 — just eight years after the founding. Today 1,500 girls in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park participate in 100 troops.

“A Century of Girls Leading the Way: Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouting (1912-2012),” running through Dec. 31, takes a now-and-then approach to scouting, according to curator Peggy Tuck Sinko. A lifelong Girl Scout member, Sinko is vice president of the historical society and a retired Newberry Library historian. Scouting is her passion along with history.

“I have been a member for 55 years,” she said. “I was a Brownie back in Indiana and have been involved as an adult here at the council in Oak Park for probably 30-plus years” even though she doesn’t have any daughters. Her son was active in Boy Scouts.

The exhibit “is sort of a perfect storm in terms of a topic for me because it combines two of my great loves: being a Girl Scout and the history,” Sinko said. “I knew early on that we needed to commemorate this, in part because a hundredth anniversary is significant. Most organizations don’t last a hundred years and the Girl Scouts have and still are going strong. . . . It was a way to tie together the significant national event and an important national organization but really try to focus on a lot of the local impact of Girl Scouting.”

The one-room exhibit encourages visitors to think about how scouting is the same today as it was 100 years ago and how it is different, Sinko said. The displays include old uniforms, badge sashes, badges, activities, camping equipment (including a tableau of 1960s campsite) and, of course, cookies. Exhibit items came from the historical society’s collections as well as from residents and the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, one of the organization’s largest councils.

Sinko hopes that visitors leave with a sense of the continuity that scouting has provided to generations of women.

“The idea [is] to focus on the girls and the fun of scouting — the activities and the learning and just kind of pushing you outside of your comfort level, whether it’s going camping or trying an activity that maybe you didn’t want to do,” Sinko said.

Items on display show “the power that an organization like this — that really focuses on girls — can have,” she said. “It really can be a life-changing experience for kids.”

The Oak Park display is one of nearly 40 local historical displays of Girl Scout memorabilia, several of which are ongoing. Visit for a complete listing.


♦ It’s the last weekend to catch Sweet Home Chicago: The History of America’s Candy Capital, Elmhurst Historical Museum’s ode to the Windy City’s sweet side. It runs through Sept. 30 at 120 E. Park Ave. in Elmhurst. Admission is free. Call (630) 833-1457 or visit

♦ Chicago Sinfonietta opens its 25th season with teen/tween-friendly concerts. Guest artists Project Trio (classical crossed with jazz, hip-hop and rock) and guest percussionists Eric Goldberg and Shuya Gong (three-time winners of the CSO Young Artist Competition) join the ensemble at 8 p.m. Sept. 29 at Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville, and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. Tickets range from $26 to $50 with $10 tickets available for students. Call (312) 236-3681, ext. 2, or visit

♦ Legoland Discovery Center Chicago now offers Merlin’s Magic Wand Days for children with disabilities the first Thursday of each month. From 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 4, Nov. 1 and Dec. 6 the center will provide special activities for kids with disabilities. Cost is $7, $1 of which benefits Merlin’s Magic Wand. Legoland is at 601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg. Call (847) 592-9708 or visit

Jennifer Burklow is a local free-lance writer.

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