I have something in my pocket

            It belongs across my face,

            I keep it very close at hand

            In a most convenient place.

            I bet you’ll never guess it,

            If you guess a long, long while.

            So I’ll take it out and put it on,

            It’s a great big Brownie smile!



(Could any uniform be less flattering?)

Happy 100th Birthday to the Girl Scouts! I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout and on this occasion, I’ve been reflecting on what I got from those organizations besides Thin Mints.

I was very lucky to get Mrs. Anderson for a Troop Leader. As an adult, I’ve thought a lot about all the hard work she put into our troop activities. Lots of magical things happened in her basement. I loved the Brownie songs – especially the one up above, which ends with us reaching in our pockets and plastering that Brownie smile on our face. We also sang “Make New Friends and Keep the Old,” “Kookaburra sits on an old gum tree,” a politically incorrect Indian song, and a silly song called “I’m a Nut” which almost has the word “underpants” in it.

We made things: sit upons, wooden trains, Christmas ornaments, gifts for our parents. We played games. Our favorite was called “Murder” and I wish I remember exactly how it worked but we sat in a circle and someone was named the detective and was sent out of the room. While she was gone, one of us was “murdered” – which meant the victim got to lie down and play dead with a ghastly expression on her face. The girl returned and had to guess who the murderer was. I don’t remember that part, but we liked it. Little scraps of paper were involved. (If anyone remembers how to play this – please help me out!)I doubt that the Brownies endorsed that game or that any parents would let their kids even think about murder but it was fun.

(Most memorably, I broke my pinky finger playing cannonball -a very rough game which we adored- in Mrs. Anderson’s driveway while waiting to be picked up.)

We went to Camp Cedarledge in Peveley, MO and earned several badges, including outdoor cooking. I’m sure that marshmallows were involved. Something must have gone awry with the cooking because all of the girls except Ruth Ann Blum and me made numerous hurried trips to the latrine all night. Ruth Ann and I sat outside on a fence railing and laughed at them. I don’t know what they ate that we didn’t and  I’m sure that was not behavior condoned by the Girl Scouts of America!

One of my favorite events was the annual re-enactment of the Brownie story, which involved the elf-like type of Brownies. I always was selected to read the narration because I was a good reader and I loved the part that referred to a “wee bairn.” Mrs. Anderson explained that meant a baby and it just delighted me to say it.

The low point of my Girl Scout years: the annual cookie sales. Our parents didn’t sell them at the office. We didn’t sell them to relatives or accost people at the supermarket. We went door-to-door. I hated it. We took orders and when they came in we had to deliver them door-to-door. Believe me, I never won the award for selling the most cookies. But I suppose it did challenge me to do something I really dreaded.

The high point of my Girl Scout years – and you knew this was coming – was earning the Writer’s Badge. When I saw that in my Girl Scout Handbook, I knew I had to have it. I’ve been rummaging around my office to find my little notebook … I know it’s here somewhere and Mrs. Anderson’s note was priceless. (Basically saying, “I didn’t know you could write.” And here I thought everyone knew I could write.)

My mom wasn’t a saver and I’m not either.  I don’t know what happened to my badges but I’d sure like to have that Writer’s Badge. I was the only girl in the troop who was even vaguely interested in it, but I love that the Girl Scouts gave us ways to challenge ourselves in so many areas.  That still puts a great big Brownie smile on my face.

I stayed in the Girl Scouts until Junior High. As soon as I discovered boys, I lost interest in the Girl Scouts. And I think Mrs. Anderson didn’t continue the troop and I would have had to find a new one. Somehow, I knew it would never be the same.

Were you a Girl Scout, Brownie, Cub Scout or Boy Scout? I’d love to hear your experience.


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