The impact of Girl Scouts in my life is hard to describe. I became a Brownie in 1960 in my little west Texas town and have been an active scout ever since. I cannot really remember not being a Girl Scout.
I have great memories of my childhood years from the GSUSA 50th anniversary celebration with Caprock Council, to the 100th anniversary in Savannah with my son and daughter walking over the Savannah River bridge with me. I spent many weekends and 3 entire summers at Camp Rio Blanco in my council. First trip was as a new Junior and those trips continued until the 3 years as camp lifeguard and camp nurse. I learned so much at Rio Blanco.
One huge memory I have is when we began junior high school in 1966. That was the year our town integrated the schools and so, we integrated our troop. It seemed quite normal for me, but later in life, I realize what a big deal that was. My mom was our leader and she was so kind and welcoming to everyone and Troop 197 was the first integrated troop in our council.
In 1970 we embarked on a journey to Mexico City and Our Cabana. At that point there 3 of us plus 2 adults. Again, it was just us traveling together but didn’t find out until 22 years later, on another trip to Our Cabana with one of my later troops, what an impression we made. My mom accompanied us, then. We used the same Chapultepec tours that we used in 1970, and our tour guide ended up being Roberto, the same tour guide we had in 1970, and the bus driver was the same, also. On the bus he kept looking at my mother and finally asked if she had been there before. She said yes, and that he had been our guide. You could see his excitement when he realized who she was and said “I remember you. You came with 3 girls, 2 white and one black”. She said yes, we did. He remembered that we stayed in a certain hotel (Ticalli was not an option then), and that he then delivered us to Our Cabana. She asked how he remembered something so long ago, and how we had changed over the years. He said we were the first integrated troop he had ever taken to Our Cabana and it made a huge impression on him. Imagine him remembering the details of one small troop in all of the troops he has escorted. That made a huge impact me, too.
I became a leader in 1971 when I began college and have led seven troops, so far. I love being a Girl Scout leader because I get to see young girls become young women and watch them become confident adults. I had the privilege of being my daughter’s leader for her 13 years of scouting. We had many adventures from our first Brownie campout, to many great camping trips, a road trip to Savannah, an adventure at Our Cabana, to the troop graduation trip to Europe, where we stayed at Pax Lodge and Our Chalet. I still see and/or hear from most of the girls in that troop.
Before my daughter graduated, I began a choir in GSSJC as part of the program department. 22 years later, it continues today as a troop. Over the years we have traveled to Savannah x2, Washington DC to national sing alongs x2, New York City 2x and appeared on the Today show both times. We have visited the GSUSA offices and sung for the staff. These girls love to sing and come from their own troops to sing together. Over the past 22 years I have had nearly 300 girls come through this choir. We have sung all over Texas, in the Capitol building, the national anthem at many, many events and just celebrated our 15th year of singing at the Dickens on the Strand holiday celebration in Galveston, in full Victorian costume.
I’ve been a council trainer, day camp director, national delegate and have been on too many committees to count, Thanks Badge and Thanks Badge 2 recipient, and Lifetime Achievement awardee. and I’ve loved every minute of it. But what I love the most is being a part of changing the lives of girls.
You ask, how has Girl Scouts changed my life. It didn’t change it, for 60 years it has been my life. I was supposed to receive my 60 year membership pin this spring. Of course, that was postponed. It’s just a pin, but it reflects a huge part of my life.