8/4 Sherry Harris, A Time to Swill
8/11 Authors of The Fish That Got Away
8/18 Authors of Mutt Murders, To Fetch A Killer
8/25 Alyssa Maxwell, Murder at Wakehurst
8/21 Nancy Nau Sullivan
WWK Special Blogger
8/7 V. M. Burns-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thursday, March 22, 2012
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIRL SCOUTS
This month the Girl Scouts are celebrating their 100th anniversary. On March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low started the first Girl Scout troop of eighteen girls in Savannah, Georgia. Now there are more than three million active Girl Scouts and fifty million alumnae worldwide. I am one of those alumnae, although not famous like Hillary Clinton, Martha Stewart, Condoleezza Rice, Peggy Fleming, Carrie Fisher or Madeleine Albright.
I became a Girl Scout when I was twelve. The troop lasted two years, and the highlight of my short stint as a Girl Scout was summer camp. It was a totally new experience for me, and I loved everything about it; activities like swimming, canoeing, archery, crafts, singing, nature hikes, campfires, smores and meals in the lodge. I still remember the oneness I felt with all the campers as we gathered around the flagpole in a big circle, mornings and evenings when the flag was raised or lowered and a bugle played reveille or taps.
So with those memories, when my daughter, Susan, entered second grade, I volunteered to be a Girl Scout leader. At the time, a girl had to be in second grade to join Girl Scouts. I chose to limit my troop 340 to grade level so none would be left behind when some flew up. Over the years the size of my troop varied with some leaving and others joining, but there was a core group of at least ten girls, who stayed with me until almost the end of their senior year in high school. By then I was in college, and those girls, who remained, were active in sports, music and other activities so most of our meetings consisted of only three or four girls.
Once the girls were in fourth grade and permitted to go to camp, we went to Camp Sugarbush every year until their last few years, and I introduced the girls to the camp life I loved when I was a young Girl Scout. We also spent several weekends a year in heated cabins in different Scout camps during the winters, too. What fun we had on those weekends! We went to Niagara Falls and to Washington D.C., too. We visited nursing home and played Bingo or sang Christmas carols to the residents. We put on an international event where each girl studied a country and had displays at their table of the country plus food representative of that country. There were many other activities we did, too, including the Girl Scout cookies we sold every year.
My go-leader didn't like to camp and didn't participate in any summer activities or even the heated cabins in winter, but I had several mothers who willingly volunteered and were a big help and fun to be with. I contacted Bonnie, one of them, and asked for her memories of Girl Scout camp. She said it was the first time she'd slept in the three-sided tents, but the first memory to come to her mind was making scrambled eggs over a campfire in the pouring rain with one of the Scouts holding an umbrella over her head. She laughed about that. Apparently, it didn't daunt her because she was one of the faithful mothers, who went with me almost every year. She also said her daughter, Colleen, was very quiet and shy before she joined Girl Scouts, but she became more outgoing and felt she belonged with this group of girls. It gave her self-confidence.
I asked my daughter, Susan, about her memories. She remembered the camp director's son, Danny, who played the guitar and sang "Cats in the Cradle." All the girls had a crush on him. The camp directors, Mr. and Mrs. C, were teachers, and they brought their two teenagers as counselors. I got to watch them mature through high school and then as college students. Susan also remembered how several of my Scouts stole my bra one night, snuck out of our unit, and ran it up the flag pole. I'd forgotten that.
My youngest daughter, Mary, belonged to another troop that didn't last, but she always went with us on all our activities. I asked her about her memories, and she laughed and went on and on. She liked the C's daughter, Sue, the best and wrote to her a few times after going home. She loved the camp and Girl Scout songs and started singing them over the phone to me. She remembered getting last place in archery one year and asking for a bow and arrows for her birthday. With much practice, she won first place the following year. She remembered the polar bear swims, too, and how I was willing to leave my warm sleeping bag to take those few who wanted to go. I didn't participate, though.
My memories of times with my Girl Scouts, especially the summer camp experiences, include the music on the front porch of the lodge after lunch was over. I loved the sing-a-longs. Still do. I remember the rowdy camp softball games after supper. Mr. C called the plays so the team scores were so close no one could gloat. He almost always called the poorest players safe whether they were or not. I remembered the skits, how funny they were, and how I laughed louder and longer at them than anyone else. I have so many memories of those years at camp.
Recently, the Girl Scout Council of Northeast Ohio, tried to close five Girl Scout camps, including Camp Sugarbush. It would've meant over an hour's drive to the nearest Girl Scout camp. Many troops wouldn't have made that trip. The Girl Scouts in our area banded together and put up a battle. Some refused to sell Girl Scout cookies, others raised money trying to save the camp. One girl asked for money instead of gifts at her birthday party to save the camp. The council backed down and Sugarbush was saved. Currently there is a lawsuit in Columbus aiming to block the sale of the other four camps, too.
Anna Maria Chavez, the CAEO of GSUSA, feels the Girl Scouts are important in increasing self-confidence, while the media and fashion industry undermine that. Only 3.6% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. According to her, few girls feel they have what it takes to lead, and her goal is to change that. So she's declared this the Year of the Girl and has started a compaign called ToGetHerThere with a goal to narrow the leadership gap between men and women in a single generation in whatever field they choose. I think it's a worthy goal.
Were you ever a Girl Scout? Did you go to a Scout camp or another organized camp? What are your memories of that experience if you did?