As we come off a summer where girls have access to all the activities and experiences that they choose it is hard to imagine what life 100 years ago was like for women. When Lucy Weiser and Jessie Pond decided to start a camp for girls in very, rural Maine they lived in a society where women had little say in their own lives. It was 13 more years until they had the right to vote, can you imagine what fierce and bold women they must have been! How fortunate we are that they created a place where girls can grow and be empowered.
The women’s suffrage movement began to formally organize in 1848 but is wasn’t until 1919/20 that women were finally allowed a say in the democratic process and were given the right to vote. Even then not all women were able to vote as minorities were still excluded. The 19th amendment was passed on August 18th 1920 long after those pioneer women had started their campaigning and 13 years after Camp Runoia opened. Maine was a little ahead of the national curve ‘On November 4, 1919, Governor Milliken called a special session of the Maine state legislature. By a vote of 72 – 68, Maine became the 19th state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment.’ Here’s a short video that may be fun to watch with your daughter. You can ask her what the process at camp is like when we vote for our team captains.
I wonder if the women who founded Runoia were involved in the suffrage process. Did they take to the streets with sashes and signs to advocate for their rights or were they quiet observers as many other women of the time were. We constantly encourage our Runoia girls to advocate for themselves, speak up for their needs, make their own choices and to not always just go along with what everyone else is doing. It’s certainly challenging to think that for most women a hundred years ago participating in the adventurous activities our girls do today would have been impossible. Even to other women the suffragettes seemed somewhat extreme ‘they seemed bold and unladylike to venture out into the world.’
The Suffrage Centennial in Maine is in full celebratory swing with many different events planned around the State over the next six months. One of our camp mom’s is a curator of the Maine State Museum which is hosting an exhibit and special events that are both informational and entertaining.
How thankful we are that brave, strong women walked before us and that our girls have equal opportunities.
Share the stories of the suffragettes with your daughters and take them with you when you go to vote!