Why I want to be a Girl Scout…again
It’s that time of year. ..look for me, the much older girl scout…in the back alley. I’m holdin’. Thin Mints. 255 grams. Cash only. And yes. I’m wearing my Girl Scout uniform from the Seventies. Bay Area Kensington Troop 169 in the house.
Thin Mints are the number one selling Girls Scout cookie. They are number one because they call them “Thin” Mints. Genius marketing. To think of the amount of additional fat stored on bodies across America between February and April every year? It’s well worth it.
And no, Thin Mints are not the reason (not the main reason) that I want to become a Girl Scout again. And no, it’s not ‘cause I still like to wear my very, short, very tight Girl Scout dress I’ve had since 6th grade (I do, and I really dig the Che Guevara beret).
But before I dive into my Girl Scout lore, let me remind you that the Girl Scout Cookie peddling period is over April 23rd. That is this Sunday. Please buy cookies on-line, or better yet, in-person. Find cookie booths here.
Read on if you need a little persuading. I had no idea how important cookie sales were to the millions of Girls Scouts across America. Girl Scouts of Northern California supports over 25,000 girls and gender-expansive youth from Gilroy to the Oregon border. @gsnorcal
So why do I want to become a Girl Scout again? And why should you buy Girl Scout cookies?
I was chattin’ with some young Scouts after I made a recent cookie purchase. I was tellin’ them about the good ole days when I was a Girl Scout back in the groovy Seventies. Nostalgia took over, I went home and pulled out my dusty Girl Scout Handbook with the psychedelic mushroom sticker on the cover. I read the entire book, and was blown away. I had not read it since 6th grade. It cost $1.00 and was published in 1963. My GS membership dues were also $1.00 annually. Today, dues are $25 a year.
I have only fond memories of my Girl Scout years, which were not too numbered. But, the Girl Scout Handbook? This should be on the best seller list. I was enlightened and inspired. Oh if only I had remained in Girl Scouts, but unfortunately I started earning my own non-GS badges “Party Hardy” and “G-Spot”.
I have a friend who just finished writing a book called “Becoming Gandhi”(published by Sounds True, Jan 2024). Local Author Perry Garfinkel set out on a 3 year quest to “practice” Gandhi’s principals. I’d like to commit to practice Girl Scout principals, and just as Perry Garfinkel has transformed, I too would become a better person… “Becoming Girl Scout”.
(Gandhi championed truth and nonviolence, led the struggle for India’s independence, and stood up for the marginalized. And Speaking of India, Sangam World Center is one of five Girl Scout Centers dedicated to uniting Girls Scouts from across the globe).
So much wisdom and interesting take aways did I find in my 1963 Handbook. I also scanned the web for current Girl Scout practices and principles. Here are but a select few.
Girl Scout conservation pledge:
I give my pledge as an American to save and faithfully to defend from waste the natural resources of my country – its soil and minerals, its forests, waters and wildlife. (Hence the current Palm Oil in GS cookies dilemma)
You are more than a Girl Scout you are a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)
You can find these words on the cookie box.
Girl Scout Promise:
On my honor, I will try
To serve God* and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
*Members may substitute for the word God in accordance with their own spiritual beliefs.
Girl Scout Law:
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong,
and responsible for what I say and do,
and to respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place,
and be a sister* to every Girl Scout.
*Members may substitute the word sister with sibling in accordance with their own gender identity. (In 2016 the Girl Scouts refused a $100,000 donation because it came with the stipulation that none of the money go toward any activities involving transgender girls.)
Four GS pillars: entrepreneurship, life skills, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and outdoors. You can earn badges in these disciplines. Hmm Robotics? And regarding badges…“badges are not a reward for something that you have done or to show what a smart girl you are, a badge is a symbol that you have done the thing it stands for often enough, to give service to it”.
And some interesting off-beat nuggets that I uncovered in my 1963 GS Handbook:
– In the center of every raindrop is a particle of dust.
– Living in a Tent: When you live in a tent you live a special way You are closer to the woods and the stars and your friends. When it rains, do not touch the tent canvas. Touching it breaks air bubbles in the cloth and that lets the rain through.
– Before you use your pocketknife swing your arms in a half circle in front of you and to the side to create an “arc of safety”.
– If you move your knife near the compass, this tip will move toward the knife and not toward the earth.
– When someone stops breathing give artificial respiration immediately. Do not stop until the victim is breathing by herself. Do not leave the person. If she stops breathing, begin again.
– If your clothes catch on fire drop to the ground, never run.
– How to hang clothes on a clothesline without clothespins.
– Waterproof your matches by dipping them into thin nail polish.
– “Nosebags” are lunches for travel. The name comes from the bag of food that is hung under a horse’s nose when he is away from the stable at mealtime
– If you’ve ever watched a turtles neck you know why a high-necked sweater is called ‘turtleneck”.
– Do not buy the “Big bargain” size if you do not need that much.
Although I earned many a badge when I was eleven, there are still a couple blank badge pages in my Handbook. I could pursue them now, “Writer”, “Rambler” and “Observer” look interesting. The requirements are listed in the back of my book. This Girl Scout is excited.
But getting back to the cookies.The proceeds from Girl Scout cookies stay local. Your money can change lives. I’m a big fan of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts in 1912. Her values live on. So I urge you to visit your nearest Girl Scout Cookie booth. Chat with these young girls, and purchase a box of Thin Mints (or Samoas, or Tagalongs, or Do-si-dos or S’Mores or Adventurfuls). And remember it’s not just about the cookies.