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Girl Scouts across the country celebrate 100 years
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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.

Mariah Carey took the oath. So did Abigail Breslin, Laura Bush, Dakota Fanning, Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore. They are joined by the thousands of young girls across the United States who have joined their local Girl Scout troops over the past 100 years, including many in Dawson County.

In 1912, Georgia native Juliette Gordon Low of Savannah had learned of a newly-organized Girl Guide movement in Great Britain. She called her niece to inform her of her plans to create the same movement in the United States. It soon caught on, and the name was officially changed to the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Dawson County girls can join the group under the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, which covers much of the state excluding northwest Georgia and metro Atlanta.

Local Girl Scout Suzanne Eckert, 16, has been in the program for eight years and has participated in several projects.

The Girl Scouts make me feel better about myself because of things we learn, Suzanne further explained.

It teaches a lot of new things because of badges we earn ... Ive been to Savannah and Indiana for national conventions. And I get to speak at our meetings all the time.

It helps me a lot because I also have to speak in front of my high school class and present projects, so I feel really confident.

Her mother, Gia Eckert, says that the program has helped Suzanne grow from a girl into a young lady.

Girl Scouts have really increased her self confidence, Gia said. She can get up in front of a roomful of people and speak without being shy. So many kids cant do that.

And she can also set up a tent in the dark.

For the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, area troop members traveled to Savannah. Among many activities, they walks two miles across Talmadge Memorial Bridge as a gesture of crossing into the next century.

There were 3,000 Girl Scouts, and seven were from Dawsonville, Gia said. We were there for five days and didnt sleep in hotels. We camped the whole time.

They also ate lunch at Paula Deens restaurant The Lady & Sons, and met with Girl Scout CEO Anna-Maria Chavez.

Over her years as a Girl Scout, Suzanne has done a lot of things in the community, including helping with food, clothing and toy drives.

Last year, I got to be a camp counselor, she said. Its really hands-on stuff ... we actually go out there and do it.

Troop leader Joan Bishop says that girls of all ages can be Girl Scouts.

There are currently three high school seniors in the troop this year.

I really encourage other girls to get involved in Girl Scouts, Suzanne said. Its tons of fun. Its a great experience and you get to do so many things and learn something new all the time.

The official 100th birthday of the Girl Scouts was March 12. The Dawson County troop, part of the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia branch, will celebrate 11 a.m. March 18 at First Baptist Church of Dawsonville.