“HerStory” Center makes History

The facility will help teach scouts about the rich history of the Girl Scouts organization.

Designed as a place to display Girl Scout collections and to give area Scouts an opportunity to learn about the organization’s rich history, the Girl Scouts “HerStory” Center opened its doors on on Sunday, March 12 at Camp Kettle Run, located at 30 Sawmill Road.

On the same day as the official Girl Scouts’ birthday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held, followed by an open house. The community was invited to come to the site on this day to admire Girl Scout memorabilia dating back over the course of the the last 105 years of the organization’s operation.

“Carolyn McCallum and Pat Moore were the two women who headed the effort to compile the three collections and to assess what [the Girl Scouts of Central & Southern NJ, Inc.] owned,” Donna Evans, chief development officer of GSCSNJ, said. “Ginny Marino, CEO of GSCSNJ, was the inspiration for moving the HerStory Center forward.”

Coming up with the idea for this center, Marino first found inspiration from a visit she took to the home of the founder of the Girl Scouts organization, Juliette Gordon Low, in Savannah, Ga. She sequentially began looking for a suitable place for a center on a Medford property. Once a building was secured, and approval for the center’s establishment from the Board of Directors for the GSCSNJ was obtained, Marino began fully envisioning the HerStory Center.

Medford was selected as the location for the center because, within the organization’s South Jersey footprint — which stretches from Piscataway to Cape May — Medford is a central location. Additionally, because the GSCSNJ has such a large collection of Girl Scout memorabilia in storage, a center of this sorts was needed so girls have the opportunity to see it, touch it and learn from it.

“The HerStory Center will hold multiple exhibits including old Girl Scouting books — some dating back before the ’40s, vintage uniforms for girls to try on, old badges and pins, cookie memorabilia from years and years ago and programming, like a scavenger hunt, for girls and troops to come and visit and have an activity planned,” Evans said.

Within the new center, all objects were donated by former Girl Scout members or their families. Additionally, the organization sees every object as an important piece of history and wishes to show off each item and associated story with girls for years to come.

“We are very appreciative of the families and past members who have donated, given back and saved a piece of history for us to share,” Evans said. “It is important to remember the girls and women who pushed the organization forward. There is a lot of history to cover in 105 years, and we want the girls to be aware of the impact of the organization in the past, and to be inspired to be a part of the positive work the organization does in the next 105 years.”

Evans noted this HerStory Center is the only one of its kind in its council’s footprint, and that it will be available as a troop camping activity and will be open on special occasions. While a volunteer committee has agreed to staff the center, it is still looking for more volunteers so it can keep the HerStory Center open every weekend.

“Seeing a child become excited by the past is rewarding, but seeing a child be inspired by a past story is also exciting,” Evans said.