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.
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!
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!
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