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Passing on the Knowledge: The Girl Scout program

The Girl Scout program at the Flag House is one of the most popular programs offered. Girl Scout troops come from all over the state of Maryland to learn about the Star-Spangled Banner flag, Mary Pickersgill, the War of 1812 and other Baltimore history.

Girl Scouts come to the museum because they are looking to fulfill a patch requirement. The Girl Scouts will earn their patch after completing a lesson in a specific category. This week's lesson is manners.

Jill Peters, director of the Girl Scout program says, “The main thing I try to teach in the manners program is when you are in a situation that you are not comfortable with or if you're around people you're not comfortable with, if you know your good manners and if you know how to be polite, then you can get through anything.”

For this specific program, the girl Scouts are asked to bring a doll to the 1793 home of Mary Pickersgill and participate in a 19th century tea party for them and their dolls. The girls will hear the story of Caroline Pickersgill, who helped her mother make the Star-Spangled Banner. They will also practice rules of conversation, correct posture and proper introductions. The program includes designing a calling card and dressing up in period clothing. The Girl Scouts will make a tussie-mussie for their doll and learn table manners while having a tea party with their dolls.

At the beginning of the program, the girls pick out a unique quilted mat and sit around the speaker to prepare for their lesson. The Girl Scouts are first taught how to introduce themselves, sit properly and use proper language such as please, thank you and excuse me.

Once each girl has completed this part of the program, the girls are given 19th century aprons and shawls to wear for the rest of the program. Jill Peters, director of the Girl Scout program, says, “The girls really enjoy dressing-up, it helps them get into character for the tour and tea party.”

Next, the Girl Scouts are taught how to make calling cards. Calling cards were used to let people know that you stopped by their home and would either see them later or ask them to see you, depending on which way a card was folded. Each girl is given a card and asked to write their name, add a sticker and design their calling card uniquely. The girls will bring their card to the Flag House when they take the tour.

The Girl Scouts then gather in the new orientation theatre to watch a video on how Mary Pickersgill and her daughter, mother and two nieces created the Star-Spangled Banner flag.

The tour begins next as the Girl Scouts walk next door to The Flag House. Each room in The Flag House is fully explained including the items in each room. Several items in the Flag House are original items belonging to Mary Pickersgill. The girls will leave their calling card here to let Mrs. Pickersgill know they stopped by and would like Mrs. Pickersgill to visit them later.

Next, the girls will make their way back to hands-on activity room where they are given materials to create a unique tussie-mussie. A tussie-mussie is an arrangement of flowers, ribbon and a small doily used to give to someone. The color of each flower represents something different such as love, friendship or happiness.

Now the Girl Scouts are ready for their tea party. The girls are taught how to pass food properly, use please and thank you and other table etiquette. “It is very important to stress table manners because a lot of parents like to eat out and it is nice to have polite and well-behaved children at the table,” Mrs. Peters said.

The Girl Scout program ends as the girls finish their snacks and are presented their Manners patch. Mrs. Peters said, “The girls really enjoy coming to the flag house and we enjoy having them.”

Related Stories

Have a patriotic party: The Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum is a great place to hold your next event.

Making History: The creation of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag: According to Flag House documents, the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner began when Mary Young Pickersgill was approached by Major George Armistead and was asked to create a flag to fly over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

Museum History: From Past to Present: When the Flag House became a museum in 1927, the first curators lived in the upper stories of Mary Pickersgill's 19th century home and ran the bottom floor as a museum.

The Flag House: Creating New History: Children and adults can spend time learning about history without going far: the Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum has what they need.