Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Girl Scouts


I think the line handed to parents, at least back in the day, was that scouting gives children the tools and vision to meet their future. I have to admit, Scouting’s glimpse into my future absolutely nailed it.

Scouting taught me the value of a dollar.
In the Girl Scout section at Sears, you could buy an official pocket knife, comb, handbook, pup tent, slip, socks, lip gloss, really, the accessories were endless. My mother bought me the minimum requirements – skirt and sash.

Scouting taught me independence.
The day I joined, my parents made it clear I would have to move my own inventory. When it came to the cookies, neither mom nor dad would shill for me -- not at the country club, not at the charity league, not at the office.

Scouting taught me to accept my limitations.
The first assignment from the Girl Scout Association of America was to bring in the lolly. But when your parents refuse to push the cookies, it’s like playing baseball without arms.

Before Girl Scouts operated like a multinational corporation, each scout had to place her order prior to sale, and the order indicated your level of ambition. Minimum order was one case. I ordered one case.

Then, if you were the little matchgirls of scouting, you had to lug around a cardboard satchel of cookies door-to-door. My parents forbade me to beg in our immediate area. I partnered with Kim; she also had uncooperative parents, but at least we could hit up her neighbors.

Scouting taught me resourcefulness.

What did we hit – two houses, three houses? – before throwing in the towel and heading back to her place. Kim opened the Thin Mints and I lit into peanut butter creams as we watched I Dream of Jeannie reruns. I know you think you know where this story is heading, but you’re wrong. We didn’t eat 24 boxes of cookies, we only ate three or four. Kim stole some money from her mother’s purse and put it in our pay envelope, then we forged a few names on our Girl Scout receipt.

Scouting taught me that when life is unfair, blame your parents.
I remember that year, the only year I was a girl scout, the grand prize for cookie sales went to a Mary Thompson. Mary had a horse and her father owned Thompson Chevrolet. He gave five boxes to every customer. Mary won something, maybe a bike, I can’t say for sure because I never looked through the awards catalogue. Scouting taught me pragmatism. You’ve just got to let some things go; not all in life has your name on it.

41 comments:

  1. OH I hear you. In high school, my sorority sold "Katydids". You know those divine pecan/caramel/ chocolate confections that were the absolute ONLY sweet I couldn't resist. I ate my entire "allotment'. My mother was not happy. I could eat a can right now.

    And my granddaughter is a Brownie this year. Of course I bought cookies. One box. I hate cookies. What kind of grandmother am I??? I"m so ashamed.

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  2. From your post, I can't decide if I was better off without the Girl Scouts or not. ;)

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  3. Ouch!! Would you like to buy a box of greeting cards? I'm selling them from an offer in Boy's Life.

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  4. I was never a scout but at 12 i did join the Beefeater Band, the most prestigious marching band in Vancouver for years. I was a drummer, or would have been. I lasted until the first 'chocolate bar sale'. I just couldn't bring myself to go door to door.

    It must have been intended as a character building exercise because I'm sure the band could have got a sponsor to put up the equivalent of what a bunch of kids flogging candy would have made.

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  5. The Girl Scouts taught me about cookie appreciation.

    Scouting also taught many girls appreciation for the outdoors & Hiking.

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  6. I was a scout for more than a decade. My parents wouldn't shill for me like other girls parents in the troop. I had to go door to door. And ring doorbells. And TALK. I hate talking to people, especially ones I don't know. Especially trying to sell something some folks didn't want. Talking. OMG. Terror, every single year. The girls these days have it easy---they get to attack us outside of the markets, in GROUPS, with PARENTS nearby.

    One year I managed to sell a decent amount of boxes, but no where near the top seller. Once I figured out my neighborhood wasn't good for many sales, I pretty well gave up---did the minimum and buried my head back into the badge book, trying to figure out what I could do to earn my next badge.

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  8. I did two rounds of scouting. I was a Cub Scout -- and we were always flogging raffle tickets. I couldn't even sell them to my parents.

    The second round, I was an Explorer Scout - jazz band, I played piano, but we could never find a place that had a piano in tune and the only charts we had were big band stuff -- and we weren't anywhere near big. So we spent most of our practice nights at Taco Bell while our advisor told war stories about his band days. I now understand that this is exactly the musician's life, only without alcohol.

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  9. Those wouldn't have been safe around me either, Virg. Wayne and Earl, that's a hoot. CO, I'm sure that's the case, I was just relating a personal experience. Trish, that's so sweet. Somehow I have a feeling you had a sash full of merit badges. Tim, don't feel bad, my parents didn't buy from me either.

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  10. Those cookies are the cause of America's child obesity epidemic.

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  11. ....and the girl who sells the least should be rewarded.

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  12. I was never a Girl Scout, or even a Brownie. I didn't miss it. My imaginary friends kept me very well entertained.

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  13. Ha! But where is Mary today?

    GG

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  14. What a rally!

    I wonder what happened to the other boxes of cookies ..... the ones you didn’t eat.

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  15. Tell me they were do si dohs...

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  16. I was never in the girl scouts. Not when it was cool -- between the ages of 5 to 8, those outfits somehow screamed super spiffy, not when it was super lame (I remember a poor girl in high school who made it ALL the way through to 12th grade. She got some kind of scholarship, as I recall, presumably rewarding her accomplishments but she deserved it more for being the target of some serious teasing.)

    I do love those cookies though.

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  17. In India, the 'embassy' Americans had Girl Scouts. We didn't. We didn't live in their compound - er, world. My mom made me a green sash, though. I used a magic marker and drew my badges on. They were funky badges, too. I camel jockey when I rode a camel. A charging bull when a water buffalo took after me. A bird in flight when a vulture swooped down and stole a chapati right out of my hand. It was fun.

    And no cookies to sell!

    I agree with GG - where is Mary now? Selling cars for her dad, or did she marry the 'salesman of the year 1988?"

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  18. Life hasn't changed all that much from girl scouts when you really thingk about it now has it?!!

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  19. Bellis is right -- I did it for you, I did it for humanity.

    Brenda, my parents hoped I wouldn't win merit badges, because I think they cost something like $1.50 a piece.

    Quid, more than Mary, I wonder what happened to her.

    Carolynn, smart. Linda, yes; except for the do-over.

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  20. My mother was my Girl Scout troop leader. Not only troop leader, actually, she was also Grand Poobah of the entire area scouting program (I think they called it Director Of Neighborhood Council or something like that).

    During cookie time, our entire three-car garage was filled with those cardboard boxes. I'm sure I sold half a dozen cases, but even then I never won a contest.

    You're right, it was always those kids whose fathers took caseloads to work who won.

    This was back in the day when mom dropped you off in a strange neighborhood after school and came back to collect you about 6 or whenever the street lights went on. No cell phones even. "Don't go inside anyone's house," was about the only injunction we got.

    I actually liked selling GS cookies door-to-door. It was an easy sale compared to Almond Roca or magazines or wrapping paper, which I had to sell later in life and even later with my own kids.

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  21. I sold cookies door-to-door. My eldest wasn't interested in becoming a Girl Scout, choosing instead to become a camp counselor every summer. My youngest daughter decided on Campfire Girls, which she loved.

    The scouting tradition is long and honorable. So many of us learned from that experience!

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  22. I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout until the 9th grade...and still get together periodically with friends from the troop...I think we all stayed in because one of our Girl Scout leaders had a house on the beach at Sunset Beach...Actually, it was a great experience for me...the badges, the camping trips, Camp River Glen in the summer, and most all of our parents were active and had fun themselves without bugging us too much!!!
    As for Girl Scout cookies...I buy them now because I was once doing the same thing...(I used to take lot's of boxes with me to my sister's sorority house)...and I also eat them...but I have to say, I'd never buy them if they sold them in the store regularly...contrary to popular opinion (or is it myth?) they're really not all that good...and full of a whole lot of things I don't want in my body!!! (and I'm not referring to that damnable temptation...sugar!)

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  23. Hey W, I'd buy a bar off ya if you'll buy some Thin Mints from Eva!!
    V

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  24. K---somewhere, I have my sash---FULL on the front, and most of the way down the back...how'd ya know? ;-)

    don't think they had a "cookie selling badge" back then

    wv: outhora---when the Jews come out of the closet & dance, dance, dance!

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  25. I can see that I'm a terrible parent. I've prevented Ian from learning so many lessons.
    Never had to sell much (and my parent's were clueless about the American way) except World's Finest for HS band uniforms. I hit the cars waiting to get gas during the 1973 or so gas shortage on my way to school - yup, sold the whole box. So I learned the importance of location, location, location and just plain ol' good luck.

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  26. My sister, brother-in-law and both their kids are in scouts. And I have a whole new insight into it from your post, KB!

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  27. Never made it to Girl Scouts. Didn't get past Brownies. Hid in the bushes after school until the car pool gave up on me. Camping, crafts, camaraderie? I don't think so. A sadistic organization led my disinterested "spa" wives waiting for their little girls to grow into proper debutants.

    Bitter? yes

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  28. PA, sometimes you sound just like Wednesday Addams.

    And Karen, it sounds so funny now to say you'd be airlifted to a strange neighborhood and picked up by nightfall, but that's the way it was.

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  29. Who knew Girl Scout cookies were so polarizing??

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  30. I was the Cookie Sale Tzarina for my daughter's GS troop - couldn't help with anything else, working all day in LA - so I hauled cases to my office every year. My co-workers loved it: the same bunch came trotting down to my office every day to buy their snacks. Everybody gained 5 pounds during cookie season and had a lot of fun doing it!

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  31. Just placed an order with a little girl I just met at our new church. Really, scouting and cookies are pretty synonymous with me. I only was in it a few years and remember a lot of teasing and tears. My sister made Silver Scout (or whatever it's called - Eagle for girls?)

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  32. DANG! Mom and Dad wouldn't even take cookies to their work to sell... Times have certainly change. Here at Miss J's place of employment, everyone with a kid in GS's brings them through. She's pretty sure the kids call Social Services if they don't.

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  33. Miss Janey, I think Marge was the mother we never had.

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  34. I was a Brownie in Austin and Dixie Jane was one of our leaders. I did have to go around door to door selling those cookies. Shy little me.

    What I liked most was a day we had an event in a lodge and made coffee can casseroles which we cooked in the coals in the big fireplace.

    I had to try making them when Jim and I had our first house-with-fireplace. It worked! And It tasted great!

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  35. Shanna: What was in the coffee can casseroles? We made "tin- can stew" in Boy Scouts. It was hamburger meat, and vegetables and potatoes, I think. It was very good when it came out of the fire. Now we don't even have the proper coffee cans.

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  36. Odd... my best friend in elementary school was named Mary Thompson. But like me, she was not the scout type.

    I was a brownie. Loved the uniform, but decided that it was a paramilitary organization teaching girls to be lemmings for the state. Did I mention that was the year SHanna's first husband introduced me to Marx?

    I never had to sell the cookies. I think my Dad bought the entire case.

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  37. Another funny story! My mom was the GS troop leader so my room housed (floor to ceiling) boxes and boxes of cookies. I don't remember actually selling any of them myself, but I ate dozens and dozens. I couldn't stop myself. Who could handle looking at all those cookie boxes --all night long?

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  38. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBMArZ_C5U0

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  39. Scouts was good for me. Guess I was lucky to have had the leaders I did. Had a great time with all sorts of folks, learned how to be comfortable making mistakes, and as a girl coming up in the 60s had a chance to learn leadership/management skills. Learned that life and work isn't always fair. Learned about ecology before it was called that. I can cook for 40 and not feel intimidated. Overall pretty good experience.

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  40. Can I just say, as an actual Girl Scout leader, that I kind of dig Girl Scouts. It's a very good organization -- very inclusive, and there is a lot of flexibility for how to approach tasks.

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  41. Probably much depended on the troop leader. We spent much of our time in the livingroom with a pamphlet on how to hula (don't ask me), while the mothers played bridge.

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