Sunday, August 23, 2015

Girl Scout Memories

“Be prepared.” Since I was a little girl, these words have guided my life. I heard them bouncing through my four-in-the-morning brain as firefighters combatted flames in a large building less than a half block from my home. Between peeks out the front window to see how the battle was going, I busily threw prescription medications, toothbrush, clean undies, extra glasses, dog food, leashes, important paperwork, computer, camera, and other necessities in a big bag next to my purse. If we had to leave fast, I wanted to take our irreplaceable and emergency supplies with us.

After thirty-eight years of marriage, my husband has resigned himself to his wife’s early Girl Scout training that instilled the “Be Prepared” motto into her DNA. She could no more hear there might be a catastrophe than she’d have a plan to deal with the outcome. Despite a few awkward moments when he’s had to explain why the family has the equivalent of the kitchen sink packed in the trunk, this force that drives my planning hasn’t caused any major problems.

Following that early morning siren and the accompanying flashing lights and hoses stretched the length of the block, I tried to think why I was compelled to prepare to evacuate. Then the answer popped into my head. It’s because I was a Brownie and Girl Scout. From second grade on, I’d been practicing to handle difficult situations. After all, the whole purpose of this organization is to inspire girls to be the best they can be.

From the earliest years, members vow, “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.” In case you weren’t part of this group, the law involves the following principles: honesty, fairness, consideration, compassion, courage, responsibility, respect for self and authority, management of resources, and improvement of the world. It’s easy to see that anyone indoctrinated into this philosophy would make a responsible citizen.

As a kid, I thought I was just having fun tying various knots, learning first aid, practicing cooking, making sit upons, and eating s’mores. I didn’t realize those field trips and campouts where each girl had a job to complete were training future wives, moms, employees, and neighbors to handle whatever life threw their ways.

After holding and re-examining treasured scout pins I earned five decades ago, I have a new appreciation for those women who served as leaders for our noisy and not always cooperative groups. Since I, too, took a turn as a scout mom for our daughters, I know these organizers work around already busy schedules to plan meetings and activities to assist little girls in earning coveted awards. They had to reread that already worn manual to refresh their memories of the motto, the laws, and badge requirements. They missed date night with the hubs to spend an evening around a campfire with sweaty, pigtailed urchins who took that sacrifice for granted.

As a grandma now, I know scouting affected my life in uncountable ways. It made me a better, more prepared person. The women who led my early troops are probably gone now, so I’m going to say thank you to those gals who currently change the world one little girl at a time. You are making a difference.

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