|Jean Clark became an exemplary Girl Scout leader in Phoenix, earning the highest awards and badges. An elementary school teacher, she dedicated her summers and free time to Girl Scouting, organizing troops for forty years, with over 500 girls benefitting from her leadership. Like other leaders, she helped girls to gain confidence and skills, while also creating service projects throughout the Valley of the Sun.
Region: Phoenix and Central Arizona
Theme: Women in Education
|Jean Clark moved to Phoenix as a teenager because her mother had tuberculosis. At this time, doctors recommended Arizona's warm, dry climate for those suffering from this disease. She began Girl Scouting at the age of thirteen and quickly became captain of her troop. Clark determined as a teenager to earn the Golden Eaglet, Girl Scouting's highest award which required acquiring 32 badges. By the time she graduated from Phoenix Junior College in 1930, she had fulfilled this goal, becoming the first Arizonan to do so.
Clark went on to attend Stanford University, graduating in 1932 with a degree in biology. She returned to Arizona and found a teaching job in Meyer, where she started a Girl Scout troop. A few years later she moved back to Phoenix to continue teaching and volunteering in Girl Scouts. Some of Clark's Girl Scouts attained leadership positions, including Margaret Taylor Hance, who became Phoenix's first female mayor in 1976. Clark encouraged her girls to do everything and never followed traditional gender norms of the time.
In 1936, she received one of the first Thanks Badges given in Arizona. This is still the highest award given to recognize extraordinary service as a Girl Scout volunteer. Clark pursued a wide variety of training opportunities in scouting. She went to national training camps in New Mexico and New York and became the first trained summer camp director in Arizona. She worked in Girl Scout camps for 19 summers, and also organized summer trips for her troops to national parks and American Indian reservations. In addition, Clark encouraged minority participation in Girl Scouting during the era of segregation and led service projects in many venues, including inner-city day camps and St. Joseph's Hospital.
Jean Clark continued teaching in elementary schools until 1976 and in active troop leadership until the 1980s. Through her commitment, she inspired other Girl Scout leaders and hundreds of girls who benefitted from participation in her troops.
To see a display about Jean Clark, visit the Girl Scouts of Arizona Cactus-Pine Council administrative building at 119 E. Coronado in Phoenix.
All photos courtesy of Girl Scouts-Arizona, Cactus-Pine Council