I spent yesterday visiting my mom, in the town where I grew up and where she still lives. We had a lovely visit, chatting all day long.
On the way home with The Husband, who works in that town and commutes every day, we drove past the church just down the street from my former elementary school. It was the place where my Girl Scout troop met for years, so it got me to musing on some memories that still linger, few of them in a good way:
• The time we made change purses laced around the edges in blanket stitch, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out blanket stitch. Tangles of yarn everywhere. Humiliating.
•The time, right after we Brownies “flew up,” when there was an event allowing us to meet the older girls whose troop we’d be joining. A very large, square, pain-in-the-ass girl, who had apparently been told to welcome her new sister scouts, approached and stood inches from my nose. Glaring into my eyes she growled, “I’m your sister.” I tried to argue that she absolutely was NOT my sister, but she wasn’t having any of it. Yeah, I felt real welcome.
•The time we went camping in sub-zero temperatures, none of the leaders could get a fire lit in the cabin fireplace, we ate cold canned vegetables and raw hot dogs, and shivered so hard in our sleeping bags we got no sleep at all.
•The time when we had a Civil Defense lecture, right in the Civil Defense shelter in the church. We were treated to 20-year-old soda crackers (“It doesn’t matter whether they taste good or they’re stale – they’ll at least give you some nutrition.” Yeah, right. Processed white flour and salt.). And a demonstration of “How to open a 20-year-old can of peaches that may have been contaminated with fallout dust, without getting the fallout dust in the peaches.” This meeting left half of us terrified of our futures as radioactive mutants and the other half strangely excited for the day of doom when we’d get to try out our critical new survival skills.
•The time we had a field trip to the governor’s mansion (back when we had a governor who didn’t suck). The tour guide showed us a clay pot made, as she said, “by real, live, Kickapoo Indians.” Being 5th grade girls, this unfamiliar tribe name gave us all a good giggle. Best of all was the comment from the acknowledged Bad Girl of the troop: “Looks like a piss pot to me.”
I think I stayed in Scouting for four years, and I can honestly say I hated every moment of it, except for the piss pot. Probably I only stuck it out because my mom was a troop leader and I enjoyed hanging out with her.
So…what did I do when our oldest started school? Got her signed up for Daisies, and continued through Brownies and Juniors. I can’t say that I enjoyed it much more the second time around. The disastrous experiences continued, but I think I stuck with it that time because Oldest is a good sport so she didn’t complain, I enjoyed the time with her (I was a troop leader), and it gave her a chance to spend time with other girls at a time when we had no near neighbors to play with. Oh, and because her father was nuts for zip lining and rappelling. So much so that he became a trainer, instructing other adults on how to lead those and other challenge activities.
But bottom line, there was pretty much nothing I enjoyed about it. The other little girls were often unpleasant and generally unappreciative, some of my co-leaders were some of the worst parents I ever knew, I despised cookie sales, the local service unit was a disorganized mess, and DEAR GOD THE CAMP SONGS! Death to whoever came up with “Princess Pat.”
So now I’m wondering whether, down the line, I’ll ever have granddaughters who get involved with Girl Scouting. For all of our sakes, I’m crossing my fingers that they don’t…even if it means there’s no one left alive to handle the meal planning during the next nuclear disaster.