My Girl Scout Beginnings
I had the good fortune to start Girl Scouts in September 1960. In those days, the earliest girls could start Girl Scouts was third grade. Every year, my most wonderful third grade teacher, Miss Cavenaugh, started a Brownie Girl Scout troop. My mom was the assistant leader. She then continued with Troop 120 until we became Senior Girl Scouts (the oldest level at the time) when we merged with another troop.
We had so many excellent adventures together. We camped – a lot. That was the best! I really feel that I learned to cook on a campfire before I learned to cook in a kitchen! We also participated in many council events. There were dozen – but the ones I remember most fondly were the Cadette and Senior Encampments. These were two separate annual weekend campouts – attended by 300 or 400 girls. Those of us who were on the planning board were responsible for planning and carrying out the events at the campouts. We also planned a Cadette and Senior conference with speakers, singing, crafts, etc. Many years later, when I was a firefighter near Pasco, WA, I was tasked with planning and carrying out the annual conference of the Washington State Firefighters Association – attended by 600 firefighters from all around the state. My experiences in Girl Scouts were beyond invaluable. By the way, there is no way I would have had the nerve or ambition to be a firefighter and EMT had I not grown up in Girl Scouts.
Camp Life is the Best Life
My favorite part of Girl Scouts growing up was summer camp. Honestly, I lived for camp. We lived outside in those wonderful wood-frame tents. We went swimming every day, we went boating most days, we went on hikes, learned woodcraft skills, and sang, sang, and sang! Several of our counselors had been to the first Round Up in Idaho and brought back a treasure trove of songs.
Our older girl’s camp – The Timbers – in northern lower Michigan was absolutely awesome. We were what I call “trip” campers. Sessions were two weeks long – and most of the second week was spent on a trip, depending on the level. So we had two levels (beginning, advanced) of backpack, biking, sailing, and canoeing trips. The camp was on 365 acres of trees, fields, and lakes. To my eternal gratitude, the camp was purchased by and is now protected by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservatory.
I went to camp every summer from 3rd through 12th grade, which included Counselor in Training. And then, I had the good fortune to be a camp counselor. They let me stay for the WHOLE SUMMER and they actually paid me too! $100 that first summer. I paid for my first pair of contact lenses with that.