The reason I am who I am today is because of Girl Scouts. My most fondest memories go way back to when I first started out as a Girl Scout up to this exact moment where I cherish my Girl Scout friends from all over the world!
My first exposure to Girl Scouts was when I was in 4th grade in 1966. I joined a Junior troop at my school and I think the number was #427 our Council was Blue Hill, my troop leaders were Mrs. d’Entremont and my own Mom. We met in the library of our elementary school once a week. I don’t recall how many girls, but do remember being split into patrols where I was elected patrol leader. I wore the COOL shoulder cord on my green Junior Girl Scout uniform. I had a yellow pin on neck tie, green beret, sash and green knee socks. My Junior Scout handbook was one of my prized possessions and my first badge (and I remember this so well..) was Troop Camper.
I have strong memories of going to the Armory in our town once a year to go to a “Town-Wide” Girl Scout event. Each troop had a table sharing crafts and activities they were involved with. One group was a Senior Troop who went to a World Encampment Event (I think there was an official name). They had a tent set up with a make believe fire.. They sat around in camp clothes and sang songs with their guitars. The older girls wore bandanas and looked REALLY COOL. I knew I wanted to be one of those girls some day!
Camp was seriously the MOST important thing to me. I remember our troop going to the backyard of a neighborhood lady where we learned how to use buddy burners and make fire. We also made sit-a-pons, first aid kits and learned knot skills. We were supposed to “master” these skills before we actually went camping and I remember loving the challenges. My first town-wide encampment was at a resident camp in Plymouth called “Camp Helen Storrow”. Our unit was “Brushwood” and there were wooden cabins for 4 girls. There were two closets and really awesome screened in windows with wooden covers that could be opened and closed. A memory I had was the way everyone signed their names on the cabin. We were told NOT to write on them, I wish I had a camera back then… What a great document that would be of all the girls who stayed in that cabin! I think I managed my name really small somewhere! At the encampment we cooked, went to campfires and did skits, sang songs, we “hiked”, swatted mosquitoes and did KAPERS. The pit latrines were the funniest thing. Some girls wouldn’t even go to the bathroom in them! One girl, I totally remember this, dropped her flashlight into the pit… and there was an eerie glow for two nights! After this encampment I was caught.. I HAD to go again. My mom signed me up for Girl Scout Summer Day camp in our town forest. We camped, sang songs and did loads of crafts. Every year as a junior I looked forward to going on our troop encampment.
After Juniors I became a Cadette. I think our troop was #428. The uniform was so “grown up” with a white blouse, green skirt, green beret with a special ribbon on the GS patch. We wore our sashes the same way and could wear knee socks or nylons. Our troop met once a week at a church hall. I remember walking after school with my friends. We worked on badges and did community service. It was tough being a Girl Scout in Junior High. Loads of pressure for being a “nerd”, but I LOVED it. My friends and I had a blast, we cooked, camped, sewed and all sorts of things I would never have done on my own. This is where I fell in love with resident camp. In 7th grade for the first time, I went away for 2 weeks to Camp Favorite in Brewster, MA. I remember one of my tent mates and found her a few years ago and we have reunited since! My counselors were Bonnie and Kathy… I remember my unit; Lakeview and even where the tent was! We had swimming lessons, did crafts, cooked out, sang songs… lots of songs and went to campfires. I returned every year after that, sometimes for 4 weeks.. Sometime for more! I really wanted to be a counselor and this is where I found out about CIT training. My parents signed me up… it was amazing. I loved helping out, teaching songs and sharing my love of being out in the wilderness. I loved meeting counselors and campers from around the world. Girls who were totally different from me, but, still the same. In Cadettes is where I really achieved my skills and earned badges. I was so proud of my accomplishments. After CIT II, I became a junior counselor and had my first group of girls. It was so much fun. I returned for quite a few more years as a counselor and then eventually CIT Director!
As Senior Girl Scout I was totally an individual that LOVED Scouting and everything it stood for. We had a small troop and did many activities together,but mostly we did Council Wide programs. I remember signing up for different events through the council, we hosted a Girl Scout from another state and one time hosted a Girl Guide from England. As a Senior Scout I had more exposure to the entire council, I was the President of the Scout Board and would go to Council meetings where we would plan events for the council. We created a “Boy Scout/Girl Scout” encampment in Milton, still not sure how we pulled that one off! One funny recollection was that I was known as “Heidi and Jerry”. I had a ventriloquist doll who would go to camp with me, visit nursing homes and even give the end of the year report at the Council meeting. Wow. My biggest achievement was earning “First Class Girl Scout”. I was so proud of being a Girl Scout and remembered back to when I looked up to those Seniors at the armory. I hoped younger girls would also see my accomplishment and hope to do the same.
After I graduated from High School I joined the United States Marine Corps. I will say that Girl Scouts really prepared me for so much. I was motivated, dedicated and LOVED to work as a team. Scouting taught me to get the job done and get it done right. How to work with kapers, be organized, check up on what has been done or figure out what you need to do to finish a task. I have ALWAYS given credit for my accomplishments in the USMC to Girl Scouting. In boot-camp I received two awards, The Molly Marine Award; this is given to a Marine who was selected by her platoon as the most spirited and the Honor Graduate; this is given to a Marine who is selected by her Drill Instructors who is the “top of the platoon” in every manner. Again, I say this with pride… I could not have achieved these awards if it was not for my Girl Scouting experiences.
My scouting did not end while I was a Marine. I helped out with Girl Scout Troops on the bases and also helped organize encampments. After I got out of the USMC I attended college where I had my own Troop. During the summers I worked at Camp Cedar Hill, a Girl Scout Day Camp in Waltham, MA. I was a counselor, Art Specialist and Assistant Camp Director. I remember not loving that the council kept changing, no longer Blue Hill, but Patriot’s Trail. Camps would close or change names, events would be bigger in scale and cover more areas.
To this day I think about Scouting every day, a bit more distant because I am so busy with my professional schedule. Currently I am the Director of Art and Design for Braintree Public Schools, K-12 where I have been directing and teaching for going on 29 years! I will be retiring next June and hope to be back and involved with a troop who wants to take an “Old Lady” camping!