Girl Talk: I Was Born A Girl Scout

To ensure my place as a “true Texan,” a jar of actual Lone Star dirt placed underneath the Connecticut hospital delivery bed confirmed that I was technically born on Texas soil. But establishing I was half-Texan was not the only attribute that my mother would assure I inherited from her side of the family, though. The day I popped out, Mom made sure to whisper the Girl Scout Promise into my newborn ears, an oration that would stick with me for the next 18 years.

After both my aunt and now-deceased grandmother received the Trefoil Award, an award given to “outstanding [women] and dedicated community leader[s] who embody the beliefs and principles of the Girl Scout Movement,” I had no other choice but to become a Girl Scout. My grandmother was a woman so involved in Girl Scouts that a GS Leadership Center was named in her honor. And she made damn well sure that every one of her daughters and granddaughters would represent the Girl Scout Mission and become “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”

My long road to the three C’s began when I was in second grade. My mother, my crazy mother, decided she wanted to be in charge of 12 Brownies (an elementary school troop) and was accompanied by two other crazy mothers. Our two other leaders included a runway model who’d appeared on the covers of Town & Country and Vogue, and the very serious daughter of funny man Alan Funt, creator of “Candid Camera.” One of the first badges I earned, the etiquette badge, involved our runway model leader bringing her nicest china set to our meeting, letting us seven-year-olds pour a spot of tea from her million dollar tea pot. Although we were supposed to be learning how to act prim and proper at the dinner table, all that ensued was a lot of calling out and cringing from the mothers every time we twirled the Baccarat.

Having table manners was not necessary when my troop and I went “camping” in 4th grade. As Girl Scout Juniors, we “roughed it out” in a fully-equipped cabin within my small town’s park. Trying to keep to the Girl Scout Law, we “used our resources wisely” and learned how to build a fire. Hot dogs and marshmallows were severely burned, and the mouse found in one of our sleeping bags didn’t let anyone fall asleep that night.

As a Girl Scout Cadette in seventh grade, mice were no longer found in our sleeping bags, though cockroaches definitely were. Our move to Texas marked my transfer to a new troop, a troop with girls that would become some of my best friends throughout junior school, high school, and now. Being a Cadette involved selling all my required Girl Scout cookies to my immediate family (we love Thin Mints, don’t judge). Many “field trips” included caravans to restaurants, and choreographing new dances to Hannah Montana’s song “Hoedown Throwdown” during troop meetings – always entertaining.

However, our Girl Scouting activities were kept on the down low throughout high school. Being a Girl Scout Senior and Ambassador — both of which I was — weren’t something you talked about in discussions of our too-cool lives as high school-ers. Our yearly camping trip always involved some sort of drama, from getting scolded after starting a mud fight, to threats of being smothered in your sleep because your cot was making too much noise. Although the camping trips during these years were sometimes stressful, being able to lay out in the Texas countryside underneath shooting stars was a nice escape from the SATs.

While busting my ass on my never-ending college applications, the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a scout can receive, was constantly looming over my head. With only approximately five percent of the 2.3 million Girl Scouts receiving their Gold Award, the project I had worked on for more than 60 hours was a huge factor in getting me into my reach school. My friends were constantly rolling their eyes when I told them I couldn’t hang out because I had to work on my Gold Award.

Only two years after my Gold Award completion, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA. While I still laugh at the fact that I was an 18-year-old Girl Scout, I also am proud of myself for sticking to it. Although many meetings involved our leaders yelling at us to be quiet and stop socializing, workshops about our future careers and managing our money kept my journalism calling in check and my wallet full (well, most of the time). Girl Scouts helped me to “make new friends, but keep the old, [some now] silver, and [others still] gold.” It challenged me to keep to my commitments, and I know it would have thrilled my late grandmother to see me walk across the stage and become a Girl Scout Alum.

She and I would both agree: you never know when you need to tie a really unnecessarily intricate knot, or even change your own flat tire while stranded along the deserted Texas highway.

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