Friday, March 16, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Scouts

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a tribute to the 100th birthday of scouting in the United States.  I’m proud to have been part of the Girl Scouts twice, as a Brownie and Girl Scout in my youth and as a leader to my daughters’ troops.  As much as I enjoyed it, you’d think I’d have more pictures, but I don’t.

I loved being a Girl Scout.  Every week I looked forward to putting on that uniform and walking down Gillis Road to the little brown building where we met across from Cradock Baptist Church.

Street view image from Google Maps
But the best part of Girl Scouts was summer day camp.  I used to have to bug my mother to get me registered.  Invariably on the first day of camp when we gathered at the flag pole for our day troop assignments, I was always one of maybe three girls whose names were not called (I guess their mothers were procrastinators, too), so we had to be assigned after all the others skipped happily off to their campsites.  After the initial embarrassment of having to find my group, I was the perfect happy camper. 

Here is what I liked about summer camp:
  • Preparing for camp and making my own sit-upon by weaving folded sheets of newspaper into a not-so-comfy square mat covered in oil cloth. 
My daughters' sit-upons -- we still have them!
  • Riding the bus to camp because there was a big Girl Scout, an older girl, in charge and she always led us in fun songs
  • Taking part in the flag ceremony and it didn’t matter whether I got to raise and lower the flag or serve as an honor guard 
A typical Flag Ceremony
but not mine
from Google Images

  • Reading the daily duty list to see whether my group was in charge of cleaning latrines, clearing weeds from the walk paths using a little hatchet (yes!  A hatchet!), setting up for lunch, or cooking
  • Hearing the bell ring when the milk truck arrived delivering little cartons of milk to all the campers
  • Doing woodcrafts and art projects around a big picnic table with other campers
  • Cooking on an open fire once a week – usually Hunter’s Stew
  • Making a Buddy Burner, our own stove out of a #10 can and a tuna can with rolled corrugated paper and paraffin wax
from Google Images
  • Learning First Aid, in particular how to make a tourniquet and a sling for a broken arm
  • Learning to load a bow and shoot an arrow
  • Singing Taps in a Friendship Circle at the end of the day before boarding the bus to go home
For someone so involved and enthusiastic about Girl Scouts, my sash looks as if I did nothing.  Hospitality, Cooking, My Troop and Troop Camper  – is that ALL??

I KNOW I earned more badges than that.  I even worked on badges by myself and submitted the work to my leader.  Why she didn’t get them for me is a mystery.  Perhaps she didn’t appreciate my initiative, or perhaps the process of obtaining badges back in the ‘60s was more complicated than it is today.  Maybe she simply forgot.

My younger daughter’s Brownie and Junior Girl Scout vests reflect a very different experience and a very different time.  (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

There are a couple badges for traditional girl interests like “Cooking,”  “Looking Your Best,” and “Art in the Home.”  However, the new emphasis is that girls can do anything, and so they worked on badges like “Geography Fun,” “Math Whiz,” “Do It Yourself,” “Sports,” “Walk for Fitness,” “Healthy Relationships,” “Junior Wildlife,” “Horse Lover,” “Music Lover,” “Video Production,” and more.

On the backs of vests and sashes are all the patches they earned for participation in events like cookie sales, food drives, camp, Sweetheart Banquet, and workshops.

What hasn’t changed are the songs.  Every girl who was ever a scout can sing this one:

Happy Birthday Girl Scouts! 
Scout out more birthday tributes at Sepia Saturday.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Hi Wendy, oh, this was so neat! Thanks for sharing your memories with us. I was in Blue Birds for a short time and in Brownies for a bit, but never went on with it. I think that we moved and I never got back into things. You make me wish that I would have kept going.

    Kathy M.

  2. Sounds as though you had lots of fun.

  3. Maybe you just didn't get around to sewing on your badges. I had lots of them, but the last ones I received are still pinned to my sash with straight pins. I figured there was no hurry to sew them on if I was no longer going to wear the sash.

  4. Hi Wendy, main thing you had a happy time; and imagine children still drank milk not Coca Cola!

  5. I never went to summer camp, but that sounds like fun. I love the idea of a milk truck arriving to deliver your daily milk.

  6. Sweet memories. I like those sit-upons, and the name, too.

  7. Your post was so nostalgic. I also still have my sash with badges with one just pinned on, never qute being sewn on. I can't imagine that your troop leader didn't get your badges to you. Shame on her. I'm sure your sister had a different leader! Her badges are amazing. Never saw any quite like those.

  8. This is a good reminder of all the great things children learned from being part of organisations like this. It sounds as though your troop had particularly good fun.

  9. What great fun to collect badges today, your daughter has a great collection, and such variety. Our girl scout leader was a little lax with the badges too, although I must admit I did not have your initiative of working on them yourself.

  10. It does sound like there was a lot of fun stuff going on in your troop even if your leader didn't get you all the badges you earned.

  11. What a really great tribute to the scout movement that is. Congratulations to scouting and congratulations to you for bringing out the joy of participation.

  12. I think I like better those triangular badges. When grouped together, they look most fetching. They make a better visual statement than the round ones.
    Me thinks...