Catalog Number: 1990.004.08
La Crosse area Girl Scouts will sell cookies door to door — and at local establishments — during the next several weeks.
If you were buying Girl Scout cookies back in 1953, you would have been purchasing a sandwich-type cookie — with the option of four flavored fillings — at a cost of just 40 cents a box.
We recently came across a Camp Ehawee sweatshirt in the collections of the La Crosse Historical Society that made us curious about local Girl Scout history and the development of Camp Ehawee north of Mindoro.
Phoebe Sorenson, who donated this sweatshirt to the historical society in 1990, was in the Girl Scouts for several years. She also served on the Riverland Council board.
The history of the Girl Scouts in the U.S. dates to March 12, 1912, when Juliette Low created the first troop in Savannah, Ga., for her daughter and friends. The first Girl Scout troop in La Crosse was created in 1919, when Mrs. J.E. McConnell began a troop for her own daughter.
The first cookie sale in La Crosse, however, did not take place for a dozen years after the first local troop was created. A local bakery made the cookies for the Girl Scouts in 1931, and they were then packaged and delivered by the Girl Scouts themselves. That first year, La Crosse Girl Scouts sold 4,834 dozen cookies.
All of the money earned by local Girl Scouts through cookie sales stays with the local council and troops. Girl Scouts are then able to choose how to use their earnings. Girl Scouts have the opportunity to go on trips with their troop, experience the outdoors at camp, fund a local project to improve their community and even donate to a cause of their choosing.
In the early 1950s, local Girl Scouts had a specific goal for their funds: to earn enough money to build a local camp. They relied on cookie sales and funds from rummage sales to pay for the project.
The local Scout council bought the land in northern La Crosse County in 1951. That same year, the Girl Scouts conducted a naming competition. Jacqualine Kramer won the contest with the name Camp Ehawee, meaning Camp of the Laughing Maidens.
Although the land already had been purchased, the Girl Scouts still needed to raise enough money to begin development and build facilities. La Crosse Girl Scouts were so dedicated to their goal of having a developed camp that they sold 12,951 boxes of cookies in 1952 — the largest number in local history at the time. The La Crosse Tribune printed an article on May 16, 1952, stating the Girl Scouts were “building their camp with cookies.”
Even though La Crosse Girl Scouts this year won’t be concerned with building a new camp, they are as invested in community improvement now as they were in 1917.
This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on February 10, 2018.