Girl Scouts celebrate 100 years with service, concert in Jersey City
Published: Saturday, June 23, 2012, 7:32 PM
Updated: Saturday, June 23, 2012, 7:54 PM
Richard Khavkine/The Star-Ledger
JERSEY CITY — There were no boys allowed.
Not counting the boy bands, and a few little brothers, at any rate.
On a warm, mostly sunny afternoon Saturday, about 5,000 Girl Scouts from around New Jersey congregated at Liberty State Park in Jersey City to mark the organization’s first 100 years.
In the evening, they celebrated the centenary by bopping to pop acts such as Joe Jonas, Sara Bareilles and Rachel Crow in the shadow of Lady Liberty and shimmering skylines.
But the day was spent mainly beautifying the park by planting about 600 native plants and shrubs in a meadow in the Green Park section.
The service project, in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation, is just the latest that Imani Smith, 9, has taken up since joining the Scouts four years ago.
Two summers ago, Imani helped out a Habitat for Humanity crew in Warren County. "We got to build a house for someone who didn’t have one," said Imani, who wore shorts, a colorful striped shirt and Justin Bieber cap to go with her blue gardening gloves as she spread mulch from a blue plastic bucket around button bushes, echinacea, milkweed, bee balm and winterberry plants.
Imani is one of about 110,000 Girl Scouts in New Jersey and 3.2 million throughout the country, and the service projects build much more than houses, said Sue McClure, the CEO of the Jersey Shore Girl Scout Council.
"The girls of today will be tomorrow’s leaders," McClure said underneath a tarp behind the main stage, where the "thump, thump, thump" of pop acts boomed over the park and hundreds of girls screamed in delight.
"We want to see them in the boardrooms, in Fortune 500 companies, in the White House."
The event, The B.I.G. (Believe in Girls) Celebration, was hosted by the state's four Girl Scout councils, and had several community sponsors, including The Star-Ledger.
There are about 50 million Girl Scout alums, meaning that about half of the country’s women have been Scouts at one time or another. The bonds are unbreakable, McClure said.
"Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout," she said.
Imani said that taking part allows her to be herself within a group of like-minded friends and with people she’s just met. "It’s always cool," Imani said. "Because I get to help people feel good about themselves. I get to help people my own way."
McClure, whose council, covering Monmouth and Ocean counties includes 14,500 girls from age 5 to 17, said the Girl Scouts want to help girls develop character and needed skills. "Our girls do incredible stuff," she said
And Saturday the girls were also having fun.