I recently came across a Cadette Girl Scout Handbook on my bookshelf, a relic I found at the library a few years back, checked out and never returned, an act that is proof in itself that I never really was Girl Scout material. In my defense, the book was going to be tossed out in the near future so I suppose I didn’t really steal it; I liberated it from its fate in the Great Recycling Bin in the sky.
Looking through the handbook brought back a lot of memories, some good and some not so good, but it did bring home the fact that I never really appreciated being a Girl Scout when I was one. The weekly meetings were cliquey and there are just many Rice Krispie Treats a person can eat. I did like the fact that once a week I could wear my uniform to school and not have to worry about picking out an outfit for that day but that was about the total sum of enjoyment I was able to wring out of several years of being a Scout.
It was all so mysterious to me, especially the badges. I knew we had to do certain “things” to earn badges, but I was clueless as to what those things were. I remember being stymied on how to get a badge in anything while the other girls were apparently born knowing what needed to be done to obtain a Rock and Mineral badge or a Child Care badge or a Traveler badge. Thumbing through the handbook now I can see that it’s all laid out quite clearly so I’m not quite sure what my issue was back in my Cadette days. All I know is that I was usually very confused about what I needed to do to earn a badge and when I did get one it was often of the everyone-in-the-troop-is-getting-this-badge-so-here’s-yours variety.
How I envied the girls with sashes full of badges, always the same Golden Girls who shone in our grammar school celestial system and continued to shine brightly in Girl Scouts. Their badges were sewn to their sashes with military precision while my scanty few were strategically placed on the fabric with Scotch tape to look like I had more of them.
I’m ashamed to admit it now but I sometimes helped my naked sash look less barren by stealing badges from my older sister’s sash, one she had worn when she had been a Cadette some seven years earlier. I thought I was being clever until the day another scout noticed my new badge in, of all things, Textile Arts.
“What did you ever sew?” she demanded after spotting my new badge and sticking her nose about an inch away from it to get a better view.
“Lots of things,” I said vaguely.
“Like what? You can’t even sew a badge on your sash! You stuck that on with tape!” Her eyes were narrowed, telling me I had been confronted by a Girl Scout Fink, an uncelebrated subgroup of the Scouts.
“I think it’s time for our treat,” I said, walking away from the fink and plucking my Textile Arts badge off and palming it before anyone else could challenge me on it. Some people apparently took the first Girl Scout law, A Girl Scout’s honor is to be trusted, a tad too far in my opinion.
That, thankfully, was the only time I broke that particular law and while it was definitely a biggie I hoped I made up for it somewhat by following the rest of the laws that covered things like being a friend to animals and always being cheerful.
Sometimes I think we do things backwards in this country. Just like I’d really like to attend high school now instead of going to work every day, I’d also far prefer joining a Scout troop if there was one open for adults. Attending weekly meetings and earning badges for learning new and interesting things sounds like a lot of fun, especially if the treats were upgraded to a nice wine with a cheese tray. At last this former Girl Scout would finally know the true meaning of Be Prepared.