“Want to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” was a constant plea as I did my errands a couple of weeks ago. It was the last weekend for the annual Girl Scout cookie drive and took me down memory lane of my family’s long history with the Girl Scouts.
My foray into scouts started with Brownies the year I was seven. Always one to dive in and want to succeed, the Brownies was no exception. My mother wrote in the detailed log book she kept that “she tries to do little things for her Brownie good deed.”
One of the highlights of my first year of Brownies was day camp at Paradise Cove near Malibu. While my mom was a leader for a few of the days, on other days I caught the bus at my school with others in my troop. We set up camp, collected shells, went on hikes, did nature sketching and went swimming in the ocean. My mother wrote, “When Judy heard I was to be at camp for a cookout, she asked me ‘Mother will you be in charge of repairing the food because I love to peel onions.” This experience whetted my appetite for exploring nature.
When I was almost ten, our troop ‘flew up” to Girl Scouts.
About this same period of time my sister, Chris, started Brownies with Mom as the leader.
The summer after ‘graduating’ to Girl Scouts, I boarded a bus and headed to two weeks at Camp Manzanita at Big Pines in the Angeles National Forest.
We slept outside and only used the cabin for changing clothes.
We had to take all of our clothes and bedding in a duffel bag. I used my Dad’s from his days in the Navy. Using a duffel bag wasn’t conducive to unpacking. Evidently, I must have worn the same clothes for most of the time, as I recall my mom being shocked when I returned home, that most of the clothes had not been removed from the duffel bag!
After returning from camp, our family moved to San Bernardino. I was thrilled when my new Girl Scout leader lived in Waterman Canyon on the outskirts of town.
When I went to Camp Tautona the following summer,
our beds were under a shelter, rather than being out in the open.
I took a photo of my laundry – to prove that I did not wear the same clothes for two weeks!
I loved the camaraderie and especially the hikes to mountain lakes.
By time I was in the ninth grade, there were few options for those who wanted to stay in Girl Scouting. The only ‘cool’ alternative was to be part of a Mariner Scout troop, although I don’t think we ever got on a boat!
Ever the over-achiever, I was keen to earn as many merit badges as possible and was surprised when I recently found my Girl Scout badge sash.
I was fortunate to be able to attend a Regional Senior Encampment the summer I was 15 that offered “a camping experience where girls must be prepared to live in a primitive outdoor environment for two weeks.”
I experienced my first airline trip when I boarded Pacific Southwest Airlines at Burbank, CA with two other scouts from Southern California and flew to San Francisco.
We stayed overnight at the YWCA and then took the Greyhound Bus to Camp Sugar Pine in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. At the encampment I learned to backpack, including a four day pack trip to Highland Lakes near Ebbets Pass.
My sister, Chris, followed the same path through scouts. Her big adventure was being able to attend an International Roundup in Colorado Springs in 1959. For many years she kept in touch with a scout from Vietnam who was in her patrol.
Scouting runs deep in our family. My mother joined the Girl Scouts when she was about 12 and my grandparents were living in California. By time she was 14, they were living in Sarasota, FL and there was no troop. Our grandmother was persuaded to start a troop and in her inimitable fashion succeeded in getting the Elks Club to sponsor the troop.
Gram joined the Women’s Club and recruited them to assist the troop with their activities and start a Girl Scout Council. Gram was asked to assist groups in other parts of Florida to start troops.
Gram took our mom and a couple of other girls in the troop to a Girl Scout Convention in Savannah, GA where Juliette Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts was the speaker. Another time, Gram drove some of the scouts to Camp Juliette Low, north of Atlanta, for a week of camping and leader training.
“Look what I found,” Chris exclaimed when I visited recently. It was gram’s name tag from the convention, and still had some fragments of uniform fabric attached.
In 1927, Gram was sent to the National Girl Scout Convention at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. While she was at the convention, Mrs. Herbert Hoover, Chair of the Girl Scout Board of Directors, announced that the present khaki uniform was being discarded as “too militaristic,” and was being replaced by a grey-green uniform.
My sister, Chris, followed her example when she became a leader trainer after she married and moved to Albuquerque. And then, before they had children of their own, she and her husband, Bill, became leaders for a troop of middle-school aged girls and remained their leader until they graduated from high school.
The next generation is now carrying the leadership torch as my daughter-in-law, Cori, co-leads her daughter’s troop. When I saw a picture of my grand-daughter placing a flag on the grave of her great-great grandfather William Brodie at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Los Angeles, I was proud of our family’s on-going role in Girl Scouting.