Happy 100th, Girl Scouts!

In 1962 — to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA — officials asked Stevan Dohanos to paint a portrait.

The noted illustrator — a Westport resident — chose the most typical Girl Scout in town he could find to model. Her name was Betsy Beardsley.

Twenty-five years later — in honor of the 75th anniversary — Judy Frey tracked down both Betsy (in Florida) and the picture (in storage at national headquarters).

Because Judy was a longtime Scout leader, active in both Westport and Connecticut activities, she arranged for a permanent loan to the state’s Southwest Council.

Right now — to celebrate the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary — it’s hanging in Westport Town Hall.

Westport Girl Scouts Christina Meehan, Shanti Wimmer, Malini Wimmer and Sarah Sherts pose proudly in front of Steven Dohanos' painting, now hanging in Town Hall.

It’s hard to imagine any Westporter more associated with Girl Scouts than Judy Frey.

A Scout herself as a child in the 1950s — in many troops, because her father was in the military and moved often — “girls didn’t get to do a lot of things,” she says. That’s why the Scouts’ outdoor activities were so welcome.

When she moved to Westport from Minnesota in 1978, she’d already had experience leading her daughter’s troop. She called Scout leaders, met “wonderful” people (including another famed leader, Betty Roberts), and began her long involvement here.

Judy Frey, with the plaque in her honor at Camp Aspetuck.

When her daughter was in 7th grade, Judy met Nancy Peach. They began bringing troops to Camp Aspetuck, in Weston. “Some of the girls were scared to go out at night,” Judy recalls. “It was great to take them out of their comfort zone. Making girls stretch is so important.”

Then it was on to the Appalachian Trail. “Nancy taught me so much about the outdoors,” she marvels. Today, Judy takes adults on outdoor adventures, from the White Mountains to Corsica.

But she continued working with Girl Scouts, long after her daughter’s graduation from Staples in 1987. Judy was involved with the high school troop, 8 or 10 girls a year who enjoyed learning skills, camaraderie, and taking trips to places like London. The typical Girl Scout, she says, is “driven to achieve things.”

Judy also volunteered with the district office. A building at Camp Aspetuck now bears her name.

She calls the state of Girl Scouting in Westport “pretty good. There are some very enthusiastic people involved.” Earlier this month, 500 Scouts and adults met for a “Thinking Day” at Bedford Middle School.

Judy Frey, in her beloved outdoors.

Of course, she wishes more women were involved as leaders. “Not as many women stick around long-term as before,” she says. “We need help with camping events. There’s more to Scouting than just taking trips to the fire station.”

Over the years, Girl Scouts have changed. The cooking badge now emphasizes nutrition, and where service projects once were Westport-specific, now the Scouts make dresses for girls in Africa.

Today marks the actual 100th anniversary of the founding of Girl Scouts in America. A small display is set up at the Westport Library.There will be a low-key flag-raising at Town Hall. Second selectwoman Shelly Kassen will issue a proclamation.

No word on whether those delicious cookies will be served.

11 responses to “Happy 100th, Girl Scouts!

  1. Joanne Heller

    Judy Frey tireless supporter of Girl Scouts in Westport and CT. I know I benefited from her GS wisdom while I was a leader. Thank you Judy!

  2. Jane Sherman

    Judy Frey was my daughter’s scout leader. She couldn’t have been more encouraging and creative with the girls in her troop.

  3. Ellen Greenberg

    At 4pm today at Town Hall, Judy has organized a flag raising in honor of the Girl Scouts 100th Anniversary. Local and state officials will be present and Girl Scout cookies will be served. Please join us!

    • Thanks, Ellen. That’s all mentioned (though not the time) in the 2nd-to-last paragraph of my story!

      • I love this post! I was a girl scout for 9 years and loved every minute of it. My mom wokred for Girl Scouts and I use to work for Girl Scouts, too! I think it is just a positive and empowering organization for girls and young women. It’s more than singing campfire songs and selling cookies (which some people don’t understand). Everytime you (or anyone else) buy a box of cookies from a girl, you are helping to teach her financial literacy. Their mission statement is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

  4. Betty Lou Cummings

    I will be there today at the ceremony to celebrate 100 years of
    Girl Scouting. I earned 12 merit badges as a girl scout…learned how to cook & sew too!…and still very proud to have been a member. Happy 100 years Girl Scouts and thank you! Betty Lou Cummings

  5. Elisabeth Keane

    My husband’s sisters were members of Girl Scout Troop 2 in NYC. They worked with Juliette Gordon Low in establishing a Girl Scout base in NYC. Happy and Lee had many stories to tell about helping Juliette.

  6. Abigail Weiner

    I was one of Mrs. Frey’s cadettes who went to London. We had so many bake sales, car washes, and other fund raisers to help pay for the trip.To this day I am grateful to my mother for recruiting everyone she knew to buy cookies (over 250 boxes!) from me.

  7. Longtime Westporter

    This brought back so many memories of Girl Scouting (is that a term?) in Westport. Betsy Beardsley (now married and living in CA) was in the Staples class of 1960 and visited CT last year. And Nancy Waltz Peach, about 10 years younger, moved out to CA and continued her love of the outdoors and hiking. Her mother, Helen Waltz, a longtime Westporter, moved out to Grass Valley near Ted & Nancy until her death about three years ago. Sadly, Nancy died two years ago at too young an age.

    I remember how wonderful the Scouting program in Westport was, and I’m grateful for the lessons I learned with them.

    • Dan,The photo shows the cottage that I’ve heard celald The Hummock House. It is the small shack sitting on a hummock (a rounded knoll, or in this case, a rocky sand and mudflat) in the middle of the Sherwood Mill Pond. Old stories say that it was once a part of the gristmill that sat at the foot of the pond (where the tide gates are today). When the mill was destroyed by fire in 1891, an unburned portion (perhaps part of the barrel and cask-maker’s shed) was floated out to the hummock. Once there, it served as a guardhouse for the shellfish beds in the pond. Despite the fact that there is no electricity or plumbing, it has been occupied over the years, on and off, by a resident who obviously lived very simply and preferred privacy. A few years ago, the cottage was put on the market, along with 6 watery acres surrounding it, for 1.5 million dollars. It came with an option to buy the clamming and oystering rights to an additional 30 acres. I don’t know whether it sold.

  8. How well I remember the Girl Scouts blood drives that we held yearly in Westport and how successful they were because of the work you, Judy Frey, and the others did to make them so! Congratulations and thank you.

    Janet Filling