Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt was chosen in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts and the recent centennial of the Boy Scouts. Girl Scouting was a big part of life in my family growing up. Back when my sister was a Brownie scout and Mom was the troop leader, I wanted to participate. As a kindergartener in the early 70s, there were no options for scouting, you had to be in 1st grade! Well, Mom called me the troop mascot and I did everything the older girls did. The following year I officially joined the Girl Scouts, and happily found a troop every year.

A fashion show of some type, Troop 1902, 1976

Some of the projects we did were good for us – Mom taught us all to sew a button, make a straight stitch, and do a couple Xs. She did this by having us make a smiley face on a circle of fabric scraps she had in her sewing room. Quite practical but also a fun little thing for girls to do. We went camping a lot. Camping was quite the thing to do in the 70s and 80s in Orange County, California. Probably everywhere, really. We “practiced” for our first campout in the living room. Each girl rolled out a sleeping bag and pretended to be asleep. The rest of us waited a moment, then started caterwauling like wolves howling, owls hooting, and who knows what else. The “sleeping” girl got up, found her flashlight and made her way to the bathroom, returned and got back into bed. Then when the “sun” rose, she got up and rolled up her sleeping bag. Next girl took her place and we did it all over again. I hope the Girl Scouts issued bottles of wine to the leaders!

A junior Scout meeting in the family room, not sure what we were doing!

We also were made to sing at convalescent homes. I really didn’t like that but I knew it was good for the people living there. That activity above all others might have taught me the process of putting others before myself. When the old folks came out to listen to us little girls sing Christmas carols or happy songs for May Day, I could see that it really meant something to them, so I put aside my dislike for the smell and other uncomfortable things, and just sang my little heart out for them.

Through the years, I was able to find a troop at most of the schools I attended. Since I switched schools a lot, this was reassuring. The familiarity of the Girl Scouts welcomed me wherever I went until junior high school; there was not a troop affiliated with my school. Here in California we have a 2-year junior high school for 7th and 8th grade. Fortunately by this point, my older sister had once again forged the way and found a Cadette troop in another school district. I joined up with them and stayed with that group through Seniors. Both my sister and I were Girl Scouts for 12 years, uncommon in modern America. It wasn’t “cool,” it wasn’t “hip.” It was fun and that is why I did it.

I earned many badges and patches through the years and I am coincidentally trying to recover and collect some of the missing insignia for my old uniform as I discovered my badge sash recently. I’d like to get it framed and display it for the little girls when I inevitably become a troop leader for my daughter. My sister earned First Class, which is the equivalent of an Eagle Scout. Unfortunately I didn’t earn it and then the program changed; I was disheartened and so didn’t try to earn the new award. That’s okay, I still look back to my Girl Scout days as some of the happiest and most fun times of my life. I can still remember the troop numbers – 1902, 1035, 616 & Iris 102. Funny how that stuck for so long in my brain!

My old badge sash and a few extra badges

For more great posts and pictures about Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, alternate scouting programs or anything else, click over to Sepia Saturday.

Blazing trails around the world

11 thoughts on “Scouting, a family tradition

  1. Christine says:

    I bet the people at the convalescent homes treasured those visits from you and your troop.


  2. Auntie Kat says:

    I remember when I was awarded the First Class Scout award. We went to some restaurant for a banquet. It was the last time this was to be awarded and we had our pictures in the paper. I still have my sash although I think all my awards, badges, year pins, etc were all moved to my vest. I have my patch jacket too. I loved being a Girl Scout. I’m now on the Girl Scout Alumnus list and get emails from then now and then.

    I would also mention that our mom was a Girl Scout too. Maybe she’ll post about it too.


  3. Wendy says:

    I love the idea of practicing camping out. That might have helped one of my girls when I was a leader. She rolled out of the tent in the middle of the night. Thankfully, she laughed about it although I expected she would be the type to have to be driven home at 2 a.m. Whew! Thank-goodness that didn’t happen. She writes a rather small but successful food blog today.


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      Isn’t that funny, I write a rather small but successful food blog too. :-)


  4. Bob Scotney says:

    One thing is becoming apparent this week, it’s the ladies who were in the scouts. Only one or two men admit to being a scout.


  5. postcardy says:

    Your practice camping sounds amusing but also practical. It seems like scouting was considered uncool everywhere after a certain age.


  6. This is so sweet! Thanks for sharing your memories. I had to laugh at hoping the leaders were issued bottles of wine. I can understand why you didn’t like going to the nursing home, but sang your heart out anyway. I remember going to Portland to see my great-grandma in a nursing home and can still smell the awful smell of pee.

    Kathy M. at Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy
    P.S. – WordPress is now making me try to sign in using an old blog that I no longer use … this is the second time this week that this has happened. I had to change my email address from the one that I use for my blog to get this to post. I can’t figure out why WP is doing this, why it is any of their business or why they care. I’m on Blogger; but this might be hindering how many comments that you WP people are receiving. Just thought that you would like to know.


  7. Little Nell says:

    That was clever of your mother making you a mascot until you were old enough to join. So many useful skills learned and I bet friendships were forged there too.


  8. Alan Burnett says:

    Some wonderful old photographs, such an interesting insight into social history.


  9. IntenseGuy says:

    I recently blogged about my Boy Scout sash.

    :) I love hearing Scouting tales. :)



  10. Great Girl Scout tales..I especially liked the sleeping out in the living room! I lived in the country..no scouts there..it is a wonderful program. Love their thin mint cookies:)


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