Lou Henry Hoover Plants a Girl Scout Metaphor

On February 26, 1936, Lou Henry Hoover offered some observations on Girl Scouting to leaders and council members at the Pacific Palisades meeting.  She was careful to explain that she was not there to deliver a speech or to lay down dictates, asserting: ‘I am just working on a problem like everyone else here.’

The problem facing the Girl Scouts and their leaders was the relationship between the local troops and the national leadership.  To Lou Hoover, the ‘national organization’ was a misnomer, for Girl Scouting was, at heart, a movement.  She recognized that if a national organization must be acknowledged, it should be seen as a vehicle to advance the movement by cultivating the interests of local troops.

In a well-conceived metaphor, Lou Henry Hoover cast the national organization as a plant: “It must constantly grow—put out new leaves, new buds, new flowers and produce new fruit….  Our plant, under human watchfulness, needs [someone] cultivating, watering, feeding needed chemicals and pruning unpromising shoots.”  Warming to the image, Lou concluded that individual Girl Scout troops could best be seen as individual plants, blooming in the garden created by the national leadership.

Lou Henry Hoover, the new president of the Girl Scouts, buys the first box of cookies, New York, NY
Cleveland Press

It is nice to see such a carefully cultivated metaphor bear fruit—in the form of annual Girl Scout Cookies Sales.  Snap me off a bud of that thin mint branch, and we’ll go on from here….

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