hidden gems

Touring the Girl Scout History Museum

Since opening in 2007, this little-known museum has spotlighted the scouting organization's illustrious past. Sorry, though: no Thin Mints.

By Emily Donaldson July 11, 2014

Goodykoontz Museum of Girl Scout History
Mon–Fri from 9–5; Sat 9–1
3110 Southwest Fwy

“On my honor I will try: To serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.” I cannot count the amount of times I have heard this Girl Scout credo throughout my childhood—after all, I spent six years as a member of Troop 12626 and three more overseeing Brownies and Daisies at troop meetings and themed days.

So when I recently toured the Goodykoontz Museum of Girl Scout History, which opened in 2007 in the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto’s Houston headquarters, it felt like a trip back in time to elementary school. Walking into the nondescript Greenway Plaza office building, I was greeted by a docent who seemed as much a product of the Girl Scouts as any of the artifacts inside the exhibit.

Barbara introduced herself immediately and offered a personal tour of the museum, which is named after Girl Scout historian and philanthropist Dorothy Goodykoontz—possibly the most perfect Girl Scout name ever. Without waiting for a response, Barbara began telling me about her own experience with the Scouts. She pointed out dolls in the display cases and pieces of history that highlight Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low, encouraging me to visit her birthplace the next time I was in Savannah, Georgia. 

After deciding to take my own personal tour, wandering away from a very eager Barbara, I followed a path through the building to view a timeline of the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto—a group that encompasses 26 counties in Southeast Texas but is based in Houston. I learned that Texas boasts one of the largest Scout councils in the nation with 72,000 girls and 17,000 adult scout leaders

The best part of the visit was seeing photos and old memorabilia from Girl Scout camps I’d attended, including Camp Agnes Arnold, where a hippo was rumored to inhabit the camp’s lake, and Camp Misty Meadows, home to horses that perform tricks that amaze even the oldest campers.

If you bring your kids, they can play dress-up in vintage Girl Scout uniforms, or, if they’re more inclined towards music, they can step into a soundproof booth and listen to a CD of the Girl Scouts Greatest Hits. Didn’t know the Girl Scouts had greatest hits? Actually, the series runs to at least 11 volumes, and includes such classics as “Boogie Woogie Alligator,” “Brownie Smile Song,” and “Make New Friends.”

If you’re lucky enough to have a famed past in Girl Scouts, try to spot your name on the Gold Award wall, commemorating all the girls who have achieved the organization’s highest honor. On your way out, take a peek at some of the more dated uniforms, or purchase a new one in the gift store near the exit. One thing you won’t find in the gift shop? Girl Scout cookies. You’ll have to wait for the next cookie season to come along for those. 

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