Possibly. Actually wearing the uniform and heading to camp with fellow girl scouts can change a life. Here, Fortytude reader, exemplar and longtime scout Geri Jansen shares her experiences.
My Scouting career started in 1970. I remember seeing the Girl Scout troop leaders in full uniform walking the streets of Parkchester (in the Bronx) and being terrified of them. Green berets, greet dresses, sashes decorated like a soldier, sensible black shoes. So why join? Simple: I wanted to go to camp and wear the cool sash with badges.
My affair with Girl Scouting was a love/hate. I loved being part of a group of girls who met in the basement of the Presbyterian church (which was a mystery since we were Catholic) with no fear of boys infiltrating. I hated doing the group activities that were boring. I loved getting that new badge to sew on my sash, but I dreaded doing the necessary steps to get it. Selling cookies was a pain. Going door to door hawking cookies that cost double what Oreos did was humbling and infuriating. Delivering them was worse. Who got what? Did they pay? You no longer want them??? Why endure this?
I had tunnel vision to camp. Camp Andre Clark and Camp Brady. Two weeks out of the Bronx; two weeks to make new friends, have new adventures and brag about it when you got back home. They were wonderful, glorious weeks. Weeks that went too fast. Weeks that still bring a smile to my face.
I quit the Troop when our family started going to the Jersey Shore in the summer. Camp was out of the equation and the sash no longer held its appeal.
My Girl Scout memories are strong and time does make the hate part of the relationship seem trivial. The love part seemed to multiply. Strong women leaders, camping on our own and yes, boring group activities that let each girl know the traits about you that the Troop most admired. We all had something. This must be the reason that I was the co-leader of my daughters’ Troop for 7 years. No boys, cool sash, secret meetings, great crafts, camping. I still smile remembering when the other girls in the Troop would try and sell the most cookies and my daughter would say, “How many boxes do I need to sell to get the badge?” A girl after my own heart.