Celebrating 50 years of service on Mackinac Island

Celebrating 50 years of service on Mackinac Island

A pivotal event in Michigan Girl Scout history was celebrated with much fanfare on Mackinac Island.

This summer, the 2024 class of Mackinac Island Honor Guard Girl Scouts, alumnae  and family celebrated 50 years of service in Michigan’s Mackinac Island Honor Guard. The Mackinac Island Scout Service Camp, which includes the Honor Guard, began with one group of eight Boy Scouts of America in 1929. By 1947, the number had grown to more than 400 Boy Scouts coming every season.

The push for Girl Scouts to participate as Mackinac Island Honor Guards began in 1973 by Grosse Pointe resident Betsy Martin who was the leader of Girl SCout Troop 327. Martin’s cause was taken up by Michigan’s First Lady Helen Milliken, wife of former Governor William Milliken. Today, Mackinac Island Honor Guard Troop 327’s service is administered by Martin’s daughter Cathy Leverenz.

Girl Scouts serving in the Honor Guard are responsible for the raising and lowering of dozens of official flags dotting the island, as well as providing guided tours, marching in parades, and volunteering in service projects. Some Girl Scouts even gain selective and unique experiences in leadership positions including Co-Senior Patrol Leaders, Patrol Leaders, Assistant Patrol Leaders, and Leaders-in-Training with the Mackinac State Historic Parks.

“We knew we were special,” remembers Carol Austerberry, née Hicks, who was a 14-year-old freshman student at Grosse Pointe South high school and part of the original group of Girl Scout troops to serve as Mackinac Island Honor Guard in 1974. “It was important to us to do it perfectly because we wanted to make sure other Girl Scouts would get the opportunity to do it after us.”

The Mackinac Island Honor Guard service is a unique leadership development tradition that has honed leadership skills and imparted important life lessons in Girl Scouts for fifty years. To learn more about the Mackinac Island Honor Guard visit www.gssem.org/honorguard.

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
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