Monday, April 29, 2013

The Alternative Troopers

As I exited my bank’s ATM annex yesterday, I saw a flock of locals feverishly congregating around a table of children. I’ve craved two kinds of Girl Scout cookies for almost three years (and, for just as long, I’ve griped about not being able to find any). The agony was over.

When I come across girls on Scout business, I like to share that I was once a Girl Scout too. But the more I think about it, who knows how technically accurate this is? If I were hooked up to a polygraph machine and answered, “Yes, of course” to “Were you ever a Girl Scout?” would there be consequences?

A friend recruited me into a troop in fifth grade. Our leader, a new acquaintance’s hippie mom, seemed fearless. We never had uniforms (I fuzzily recall a sash of some sort, but that could be all in my head). We never went camping, unless taking one unchallenging nature walk counts. Although the “meetings” were invigorating and hilarious, I didn’t stick with the group for long and wouldn’t be flabbergasted to learn that it was unaccredited.

Since my troop time didn’t amount to much more than socializing in a somewhat organized manner, I’m fascinated with the lines of text (aside from the “Nutrition Facts”) on my Thin Mints box. There’s a list disclosing that the Girl Scouts experience (or at least the cookie-selling component of it) is designed to help girls develop 5 skills: Goal Setting, Decision Making, Money Management, People Skills, and Business Ethics.  

(Money Management? Should this have been a topic of discussion in between rounds at the bowling alley we went to?

Business Ethics? When the town mayor’s granddaughter and I spent an afternoon going door to door and deliberated whether to call it a day and “go to Dairy Queen now or do a few more houses first,” we opted for the latter.)

If any future tween of mine wants in on a stimulating organized troop, I’ll be a hippie-mom overseer. We’ll bowl and kickbox, have tea parties and dance marathons, travel to the nearest trampoline park, deify the arts, practice eco-consciousness even when it’s not Earth Day, and donate more snacks than we sell. 


  1. Actually, you have stronger memories of the Girl Scouts than I do. I think I also vaguely remember a sash, but I have no memory of activities...except selling cookies, which fostered competition among the girls instead of cooperation, and which began to wear me out. I took my daughter to a local Brownie's troupe (the junior version of Girl Scouts). They never went anywhere. All they did was repeat what had already been done in school, for example, making a Mother's Day card for Mother's Day. She got bored very quickly, and we departed. But I do have a couple of cute photos of her in her little uniform, which, I am embarrassed to say, I actually spent money on. I have a feeling that scouting does not fare very well in urban environments. One of my friends, another mother who lives in an area in Connecticut where there are actually trees and grass, once spoke of scouting expeditions with her daughter to the woods where the troupe made campfires and toasted s'mores. Now THOSE scouts learned how to survive in the wilderness! (Well...not exactly...)

  2. That last paragraph is beautifully put and gives me the warm fuzzies. (Well, the whole post is eloquent and lovely, to be sure.)

    Australia has something similar to the Girl Scouts but I can't remember the name of it now. Drat. Didn't know about it in my tweens, though. I was obsessed with The Babysitters Club books (hahah) and wanted to create my own BSC club with two friends...and then we went one better and created a musical group called the "Dreamworld Wonders" (oh my God) (...this was in '96, so I was 11) that would sing at kids' parties and stuff.

    Wow. WOW.

    Hey...I think I came up with The Wiggles idea before the Wiggles themselves. I could've been a gazillionaire! Bahahah.

  3. I'm sure you'd be an awesome hippie mom! We don't have girl scouts here in SA. We were just brow beaten into taking part in athletics and other sports - regardless of whether any of us actually run / jump or not.

  4. Unchallenging nature walks always count. Just not so much, is all. Unless you're me - then it counts, for a 15-minute walk is enough to wear me out. Did you say kickboxing?

  5. I loved being a Boy Scout-once I got used to the guys, or should I say they got used to me. I was the only "round eye" in an all Japanese troop and they accepted me once they saw that I was just like them. I'm still in contact with two of them as well. The first one was in the same kindergarten class with me. Dean and I were each others best men at our wedding too. Our time in scouting was very well spent and I'd do it again.

  6. While this is a beautiful post that says you'd make a great hippie mom, all I can think about is Thin Mints.

    Girl Scouts are wonderful. The cookies are truly evil. Must. Have. Thin Mints.

    Stopping by from SITS.

  7. My sister was a Girl Scout, and my grand daughter is "trying it out". I started and ended as a "Brownie". My mother was a leader, but this was all pre-hippie. She was merely a socially conscious "townie-mom" who wanted to do activities with her child. Trouble was, I was a rebel. While she was surrounded by her commitment to supervise twenty other hyperactive little girls, I went for a visit with a beloved neighbor. She was baby sitting across the street from the Grange Hall where my group was meeting. It might've been 1959 and I might have been six years old. But I effectively crippled the decision making abilities of two grown women by being where I wasn't supposed to be. There was no telephoning, neither lady able to leave their post, and no one available to run messages. I don't remember the consequences, but I do remember choosing to go where I wanted to be. Was that a fostering of independence? I think the survival skills came into play when my mother found me. I still love my independence.

  8. No one should ever have to crave girl scout cookies. My favorite is, of course, the Samoas, and I am not ashamed to say I have gone on Ebay to buy them because no Girl Scouts could be found to buy them from. I say forget waiting for your tween to come along, let's have tea parties, bowl, and go on very unchallenging nature hikes (those, too, are my favorite kinds). :)