Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday, Girl Scouts

Lately the upper leadership of Girl Scouts has gotten bad press, but let's remember as with a lot of things, what happens on a national level is little like what the local level of an organization has for heart. Girl Scouts on the local level is dedicated moms helping girls become mature, well rounded women.
My oldest sister was the true Girl Scout. She stayed in till she was a senior, going to round up in Idaho. We have many beautiful slides of that trip. She rode a train to Idaho with an African American porter, sleeping on the train. I keep asking her to guest blog, maybe she can about this trip.
I remember riding along to get her to the train station, involved even Grandpa Evans. Dad could see Penn Central station in Pittsburgh, but because of all the one way streets and bridges, had the most difficult time getting her there. Grandpa remarked, "I feel like a stranger in my old home town." because he couldn't help Dad get to the destination. He'd been living in Sharon almost forty years. Another story I can't wait to  write.
I had staying power in Girl Scouts, too, thanks to Bev Thomas and Esther Thompson, encouraging me in eighth grade. I felt as I was entering ninth grade I would be too busy for this group as well. No dues, just pay for trips as we went along and the enticement of fun were their arguments to keep me coming.
I started as a Brownie in the Presbyterian church with Peggy Clarke and Betty Hoagland. There were no Daisies, then. We hiked up Hogback Hollow, camped at Peggy's parents' farm in Transfer, made roller skating skirts for our roller skating badge.
I flew up to Juniors and carried on into Cadets, all with the official uniforms. Brownies consisted of the light brown shirt dress, with orange neck tie, brown knee highs and beanie, and when it was cold, a brown sweater with the orange Brownie symbol. I still have the sweater and my sister's Senior green dress. Juniors wore a green dress similiar to the Brownie one with a green beret. Cadets consisted of dark green skirt and white blouse. I was never very good at keeping up with my badge  sewing on my sash.
As we entered eighth grade, the big trip of the year was being planned with all the fund raising. Tom Watt kits, candles, subs, tables at the mall for the charity fairs. Our trip was a Council trip with troops from around the county. The destination, for Girl Scouts was Juliet Gordon Low's birthplace in Savannah, Georgia, but for the kid in us all, it really was Walt Disney World. This was probably the biggest, most organized and fabulous deal I had been on. Apart from my parents' trips we took. If you remember, our family trips had been curtailed for awhile because of my dad's accident two years prior.
After this exhausting year, quitting Girl Scouts seemed right, until Bev and Esther counseled me. I'm so glad they talked me into continuing as we had many more fun trips. Learning to canoe, two trips to Philadelphia in 1976, mystery bus trips added so much to my teen years. Weekends at Bev's cabin in Kennerdale were so fantastic as we learned to plan and cook meals for a larger group than just a family. We still made dresses for dolls for the Dollie Derby with Good Will. I don't think they do that any more.
I got the highest award, the Gold Award with three other girls. We had to go the Herald offices to get our picture taken for the newspaper. I wanted us all to pose like KISS. The other girls didn't follow my lead. We wore the white blouse and green skirt. I guess by then seniors didn't have the solid green dress.
In my adult life, I was the co-leader for Katie's troop until she quit in fifth grade. Our big trip was Sea World in Aurora, OH to sleep with the sharks. That was truly cool, laying in a sleeping bag with the lights out except for the tank as the sharks that never sleep circled around our heads. I found it very relaxing. I had a lot of fun with the leaders of this big troop of twenty five girls. We always ended up staying awake all night on all the trips.
Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts, you have enriched my life and many other's. And in view of what I was writing last week, let's pray for this organization around the world for the leaders and the girls, growing into responsible women.
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