There’s a commotion about the Girl Scouts and what they have come to represent. There are those who complain about what the girls learn and what the organization supports. This is a humor blog, and therefore we don’t put any political leanings either way. If you want that, go read something else.
No, this is more about what I remember from my experience as a Brownie, the highest level of scouting I ever achieved. It was the early 1990s, and my after-school activities consisted of Brownies, 4-H, piano lessons, and climbing trees. It was a very busy schedule, and one that I organized carefully in a notebook. Seriously, I scheduled time for myself to climb a tree and read a book.
Brownies met on Monday nights, an event for which, despite what television tells of children’s meetings, did not require my Brownie uniform. I seldom remember wearing it for anything but pictures or events where we were moved up to the next level. We certainly didn’t wear it to Girl Scout Camp, as that would have resulted in tears and dirt, something which our mothers were not prepared to deal with given the cost of a new uniform. Not that we had new uniforms—I wore my sister’s outgrown uniform, which before her had been the uniform of the daughter of a friend of my mother’s.
I don’t even remember learning anything in Brownies. I remember there being activities, such as the “sleepover” event, which lasted until 9:30 pm, at which point we went home, already in our pajamas.
Part of the evening’s activities included typical bedtime routine, such as taking a bath in Styrofoam
packing peanuts while fully clothed.
There was face painting one night at Brownies, which resulted in me making another girl look as much like a clown as I could, all the while assuring her that I had made her look like one of the girls in the music video for Simply Irresistible, a video I had never seen and was not permitted to see. She chased me around the fellowship hall of the church where our meetings were held after she saw her face in the mirror.
We earned badges, but I can’t for the life of me tell you in what or what I should have learned.
We went to Camp Henry Kaufmann for weekend trips such as Daddy-Daughter Girl Scout Camp, and Mother-Daughter Girl Scout Camp.In one of these trips (Mother-Daughter), my mother got a flat tire, and I spent the entire day with the other children and mothers, which was kind of fun—I pretended I was an orphan in a novel, while my mother, wracked with guilt, spent the day with people from AAA. This was before cell phones, so it was a full day’s activity for her. When she did join us at the pool later, she kept apologizing for not spending the day with me. If anything, I learned that the other mothers, mom’s friends, cared enough about her to look out
for me all day, and that my mom had really looked forward to this trip.
In another of these trips (Father-Daughter), which was unseasonably cold, we learned that our fathers were less equipped than we were for camping: despite a large proportion of smokers (again, it was the 90s), no one seemed to be able to start a campfire in the damp Pennsylvania woods. It took a quantity of lighters, and as I recall, coffee filters to get the fire going. I have no idea what the dads did for coffee in the morning.
In yet another, we each had our feet meticulously inspected before being allowed into the pool area, as the previous year, there had been an outbreak of plantar’s warts among the girls after swimming. To this day,I can’t go into a pool without desperately wishing that everyone’s feet be inspected so that I don’t end up with one of those awful things.
And then there were the cookies. I wasn’t so much interested in selling them to neighbors as I was to my parents and grandparents, because that meant that I could then eat the cookies.
I will continue to buy Girl Scout cookies, not for political reasons, but so that girls can have dim
memories of childhood fun and realize that their parents went to great lengths to make their childhood a happy one. And for the Girl Scout leaders who so desperately want to make a stand with what they teach the girls, please, watch this video of Simply Irresistible and take yourselves less seriously.