Why I Believe in Scouting
By MARY ROBERTS RINEHART
Series No. 10
GIRL SCOUTS NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS
189 Lexington Avenue
New York City
Why I Believe in Scouting
By Mary Roberts Rinehart
Girls are great idealists. No one
familiar with the working of the girl
mind can fail to recognize how quickly
they respond to ideals. They dream
dreams, not of success, but of happiness.
They look up rather than out.
But they are vague and uncertain,
full of wistful yearnings that lead nowhere.
Given a cause and a leader,
and they will bring to it an almost
pathetic eagerness, staunchness, loyalty,
enthusiasm and unselfish effort.
There comes a critical time in a girl's
mental and spiritual life, when she is
waiting impatiently for young womanhood.
The things of her childhood
have lost their interest. She has abandoned
her dolls. The little boys she
played with have deserted her, and
found the girl-less associations of the
'teens. They have their clubs, their
sports, their meeting places. But to
the young girl there is nothing but that
period of waiting. She is peculiarly
isolated. Her family often finds her
strange. She is moody and dreamy.
She begins to spend an almost alarming
amount of time and thought upon
her appearance. The family says:
"What in the world is the matter with
Jane?" And her father suggests it is
too much going to the moving pictures.
But the truth is that Jane is idle.
She does not belong, between babyhood
and womanhood, anywhere in the social
organization. She is active and romantic.
Her days are a long waiting
for maturity, and with maturity the
fulfilment of her dreams, of love, of
marriage, of motherhood. She haunts
the movies because she finds there vicarious
romance and vicarious adventure.
The great out-doors is hers to
play in—on the screen.
And at the same time, with no increased
outlet for her activities, her
imagination is being stimulated as
never before. Books, magazines, automobiles,
moving pictures, all are revealing
to her this strange thing we
call life, which is hers to observe but
not yet to live. She is a yearning onlooker.
It is time to realize that hundreds of
thousands of young girls in this country—doubly
important now that they
are future citizens as well as the
potential mothers of future citizens—must
be given occupation, a feeling of
responsibility, a practical ideal to
which they may bring their innate loyalty
and enthusiasm. They need organized
play and athletics. They need
something concrete to tie to. They
need to be taught, if you please, what
is the "gang" spirit among boys. They
need to learn that their young bodies
are to be used, instead of decorated.
Until they learn that, we shall have
sickly mothers and puny babies. No
single movement for the improvement
of American people as a race, no advance
of science or sanitation, can compare
in importance with the necessity
for building up morally, spiritually and
bodily, our future mothers.
They need to be taught certain loyalties,
sex loyalty. Loyalty to ideals.
Loyalty to country. This last, loyalty
to country, has to be taught. When
a man learns to take off his hat to the
flag, he has a new respect for it.
Some of our girls need to be taught
honesty. They cover their dreams
with small deceits. They seek romance
out of sheer boredom, and are driven
into hypocrisy. The boy has fewer
dreams to conceal, and he is honest
with the honesty of fresh air and the
great out-doors. When we give our
girls occupation, when we get them
out of doors, when we give them organized
play in the open, there will be
fewer morbid women.
Give them something to do that interests
them. Get them out into the
air. Fill in the waiting years with
work and play. Give them some rules
of life which will appeal alike to their
imaginations and to their instinctive
desire for something better. Let them
look out as well as up.
Nearest of all the proposed plans to
cope with what an increasing number
of families are finding to be their problem,
the adolescent girl, the Girl Scout
movement fulfills all these requirements.
It is sane, healthy and normal.
It teaches honesty, purity, vigor and
love of country. And it takes the girl
in her 'teens and gives her a live interest
in the present instead of the
It should have nation-wide support.