History of the Gold Award

Posted: Mar 29, 2012

In 1916, The Golden Eaglet of Merit– the highest award a Girl Scout could achieve – was created. To receive this award, a girl had to earn a required number of proficiency badges and be judged by the National Standards Committee on her service and character. The Golden Eaglet (or Golden Eagle) remained until 1938, when the award name was changed to “First Class.”

Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scout organization, pinning the Golden Eaglet Award on a Girl Scout

Even though some of the details have changed over the years, the tradition of leadership awards in Girl Scouting has remained an important aspect of the Girl Scout experience.  Currently, Girl Scouts can earn Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards. On Saturday, March 31st, twenty three girls received their Gold Awards and 136 were honored with their Silver Awards.

These girls are actively making a difference in the world around them—doing exactly what the Girl Scout Promise and Law challenges them to do. As we feel a sense of pride for what today’s girls are accomplishing, let’s take a look back at some of our earliest Girl Scout Award winners. 

In 1930, Mary Thomas (maiden name Shivvers) was 10 years old and living in California when she first became a Girl Scout. One year later, her sister Joanne joined the same troop. Soon after, their family moved to the then small town of Phoenix, Arizona. They remained interested in Girl Scouting—and after arriving in Phoenix in 1931, they both joined Troop #1 at Trinity Cathedral Church in downtown Phoenix. Their troop leader, Jean Clark (click here to read about Jean), would be their leader and mentor through their early Girl Scouting years.

When asked their favorite memory of Girl Scouting, Mary and Joanne had an instant answer:

“Camp!” they exclaimed in unison.

“Camp is so special because of the friendships, and living outside, horseback riding, campfires, and everything else,” said Mary.

Mary (bottom right) at Girl Scout camp

When Mary was 16, she earned her Golden Eaglet Award. Joanne followed in her footsteps one year later. They recall a feeling of fulfillment in their achievements.

“We had to earn so many badges, and we were endorsed by 4-5 influential people in town,” said Joanne. “We felt satisfaction after completing what we had set out to do.”

Mary and Joanne (1935)

There were only seven girls who received the Golden Eaglet Award in Arizona:

1) Arizona Hawes
2) Ilene Donner
3) Jean Clark
4) Mary Stegmeier
5) Allita Mae Langston
6) Mary Shivvers (now Mary Thomas)
7) Joanne Shivvers (now Joanne Safarian)

Although all the awardees except Mary (age 91) and Joanne (age 90) have passed away, the legacy of the Golden Eaglet lives on through the Girl Scout Gold Award!

Mary and Joanne (present day)

Mary and Joanne were recently featured in the Arizona Republic. [Click here] to read the story.

For more information about the Girl Scout Awards, [click here.]

Golden Eaglet Poem:

“I would wish you the range of the eaglet’s eye,
The strength of his wings that your spirit may fly
Over all of life’s turmoil—your purpose held high.
I would wish you the courage to walk unafraid
Wearing proudly the symbol of your accolade.”

-Birdsall Otis Esley