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Scouting Around

I’ve always been a joiner, even as a kid. So over the years I’ve belonged to plenty of clubs, but the one I remember most fondly and which taught me the most was Girl Scouts. We met on Thursdays after school. At the start of each meeting we held up our three middle fingers and recited the Girl Scout pledge, promising to be of service to God and our country and “obey the Girl Scout laws.”

Our uniform, worn that day, was a green dress with front buttons on the top half and a flared skirt.  The best part was the sash, worn across the chest, making us look like bandoleros without the bullets. Instead, the sash displayed earned badges.      

And earn them we did! Each involved learning a skill or having an experience, such as pottery or bird watching or horseback riding. We had to DO something, research the topic, and answer the questions about it in our Girl Scout Handbook, which we turned in to the troop leader.

Eventually, my badges covered the sash front and spilled over onto the back. I was very proud of them and still have the sash in my attic. I can’t remember the fine points of home nursing or setting up a tent, nor did I earn badges in canoeing or tennis. But I can build a decent fire and identify many trees as well as some wildflowers. 

As an adult, I see camping as staying at a Holiday Inn with the windows open, but as an intrepid Girl Scout, I camped out several times, sleeping on a cot in a tent and cooking over a homemade Burner.    

Besides earning badges, we also sold cookies, and I was a master seller, if I do say so myself. Of course, asking people to buy cookies for 35 cents a box is a lot different than asking people to pay $5 per box, as customers do today.

Besides cookie prices, I realized scouting had changed in other ways, too, once my daughter joined.  Somehow earning a badge in Urban Hiking after a shopping trip to Georgetown just didn’t seem the same.  Because of my happy scouting memories, I volunteered as the Cookie Mother of my daughter’s troop for several years.  Our basement, aka the Cookie Stash, smelled like mint for months afterward. 

My Old School self loved scouting and I hope today’s girls love it too, even if it’s a victim of “progress.”   


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