Category Archives: Girl Scouts

My Introduction to Flag Etiquette

The U.S. Flag or “Old Glory” was an important part of my childhood.  You see, children in the 1950’s didn’t have technology at their fingertips like children today.  Children had after school activities that were designed to build a strong foundation.  We were really citizens-in-training.  Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were important after-school activities that were approved by  parents.

I  went to Brownie Camp every summer at Scout Haven in Acworth, Georgia.  Every morning we stood around the flag pole in a horseshoe while the American flag was raised for the day.  At the end of the day, we stood around the flag pole again as the “colors” were retired for the day.  Being in the Color Guard that performed this ritual was a special privilege.  You could not be in the Guard until your last year of Brownie day camp.  I was excited when I reached that year.  I wanted to have a “real” camp job—-and being in the Color Guard was what I wanted.

One person was the Color Bearer or Flag Bearer.  She carried the flag.  She walked ahead of the four or six girls who were the Color Guard.  Guess which one I wanted to be?  Yep. I wanted to be the Color Bearer. Another person-generally a counselor-was in charge and announced the commands.

When all the camp buses arrived, the campers came directly to  the flag area and formed a large horseshoe.  Once everyone was there, we would raise our hands in the quiet sign and all talking ceased.  Then the announcer would say, “Girl Scouts, attention.” That meant that we were ready to start.  Next we heard, “Color Guard, advance.” The Color Bearer and the Color Guard would march forward in perfect step. (We practiced to make sure we were in perfect step.) When we reached the pole, the announcer said , “Color Guard, post the colors.”  Now we were at the tricky part.  The Color Bearer would pass the flag back to the guard so they could unfold it and have it ready to put up the pole.  While this was happening, the Color Bearer would pull the grommets down and have the first one ready to attach to the flag.  She would pull the rope up a bit and attach the second grommet to the flag.  The Color Guards were to hold the flag so that it NEVER touched the ground.  The Color Bearer pulled the flag up as the Color Guard saluted the flag.  Then the announcer would say, “Please join us in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.” And we did.  All of us.  With respectful voices.  The final step was to dismiss those who had touched the flag. The announcer said, “Color Guard dismissed.” Then we would turn and in perfect step, march out of the horseshoe.

The “retiring” of the colors at the end of camp was pretty much so a reversal of the morning except for one thing.  The Color Guard had to fold the flag.  It had to be done  perfectly.  I can not tell you how many times we practiced the folding of the flag into the perfect triangle.  This was also the scariest time because the flag could not touch the ground.  Never.  Ever.

As a Girl Scout, I followed the same ceremony for our flag.  As a Senior camping in Idaho with 4000 other Senior Scouts, I still followed this same ceremony, always showing honor and respect for this emblem of our country.

Today some folks do not want to show respect for our flag or even our country.  As for me, I will continue to honor the flag of our country.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6

 

2015 Day 27: Black and White Part 2

Last year I wrote a post titled Black and White. It was about growing up in the 50’s when races were separated. I wrote how as a child I was never aware that  separation was wrong. Tonight I am doing an update on the black and white topic. In today’s post, I am a teenager and still in Girl Scouts. That is where I am starting.

As a senior Girl Scout, I could apply to go to the national Round-Up. It was a wonderful event for Scouts. The competition was tough but I was one of the Scouts selected to attend and represent Georgia. I was so excited. As a part of the yearlong training, I met and camped with all the attendees from north Georgia. It was great fun! We had a camping weekend every month. We were divided into patrols and worked together to get ready for our Round-Up in Idaho. There were a few differences in our camping. We stayed outdoors-even in the cold and snow to get ready for our Idaho experience. And we were multi-racial. My partner was black. We all drove to our camping events. No parents ever came. We were teenagers and had council adults to assist us, train us and monitor our training.

The BIG difference happened when we met at the train station in Atlanta. Our parents had never been around.  We saw one another and raced into each other’s arms-hugging and laughing. We were going by train to Chicago and then across the United States. It was exciting!  That is when I noticed the looks on the faces of some adults. There were a few shocked faces. Why? Well, we were a mixed group. Some black and some white.  A few parents made a scene-a big scene. They did not want their daughter to camp with a black Scout. They threatened to pull their Scout from the event. Girls cried. Parents griped because they wanted some separation. Well, we had been together for months.  We saw nothing wrong. To the best of my memory, two girls were pulled by their parents. The rest of us got on the train and we left town!

The next few weeks were glorious! I was in a double compartment with  7 other girls-black and white. We immediately began a marathon Canasta game with new folks joining when someone wanted a break. We shared clothes, shoes and makeup. I learned about processed hair. We watched the black girls fix their hair and they watched us. It was a blast!  The Round-Up was awesome. The scenery was too beautiful for words. The time flew by.

Before we knew it, we were on the train again coming home. We played Canasta, swapped clothes and talked about everything. When we arrived in Atlanta, our parents were glad to see us. What they saw were a bunch of girls who had lived several weeks together. WE saw nothing different about any of us. We hugged, laughed and cried together as our parents peeled us apart.. There was no black and white.  We had lived together, eaten together, exchanged clothes and beds, prayed together.  We had solved the world’s problems. WE WERE ONE! Amen.

 

2015 Day 12: The Tale of the Stove

Since I have already introduced Girl Scouts to you, I thought I would share another really great experience from my camping career!

After Brownies, I graduated to a Junior Troop. This meant I could put away those brown boxer shorts and striped brown and white shirt. I could stop wearing the brown uniform and the beanie. I was growing up! Yay! I now wore a green uniform and a fancy beret.  I had a sash that had my troop number on it. Soon it would have badges on it, too. I had already circled the ones I was most interested in doing in my Girl Scout Handbook. I was ready for the big time.

The big time also meant that we FINALLY went camping during the fall or winter or spring.  We still went to Scout Haven so I knew all about it.  Well, I was wrong-a little.  Scout Haven had added another area to the camp.  It had been undeveloped for a long time-well, except for latrines! But recently the council had added a winterized cabin for troops to use.  So what is a winterized cabin? Just what it says.  It was one large room and one smaller room that was set up as a kitchen. There was a huge rock fireplace in the large room.  We had a fire going and that was all the heat we had.  We put our air mattresses and sleeping bags out on the cement floor.  The first night we cooked our dinner in the coals in the fireplace.  My dad was in charge of that. It was yummy. We all made a packet of veggies and meat and wrapped it up in heavy duty foil and put it in the coals.  Dad made a peach cobbler in a cast iron dutch oven and put it in the coals for dessert.  We had no bathrooms so we had to bundle up and use our flashlights to trek to the latrines.  It made you careful about how much you decided to drink!

The next morning I had kitchen duty. The cabin’s kitchen had the most enormous stove I have ever seen.  It was huge. It had a warming box over the top and several doors on the front.  I had to butter bread for toast so I got busy with that.  The bacon cooker was looking at the stove and opening doors and seemed really puzzled.  She called over the leader who came over and did the same things-like open the doors and even look behind the stove.  Then I saw my dad.  He was smiling so big.  And the father next to him was doing the same. Finally the Scout turned around and said to everyone–“Where is the switch to turn on the stove?”  That is when my dad really lost it. He began to laugh out loud.  Finally he stopped laughing and said-“It is a wood stove! There is no electricity!” The Scout and the leader looked shocked.  Dad walked over and showed them the firebox and the kindling that was split beside the stove.  He showed them how to build a fire and breakfast was finally on its way. Of course, it was not speedy.  Wood stoves take a while to get going!

And so ends the tale of the stove.

2015 Day 9: Welcome to Scout Haven!

I was lucky enough to be in Girl Scouts as a child.  I met a lot of people that were terrific.  I got to be outside and camp a bunch.  I had a sash with a lot of badges. I loved being in Girl Scouts!

My first experience was with Brownies.  The mother of my best friend was our leader.  I only had to walk up two houses in order to reach the meeting place.  It was great!  And we got to go to Day Camp at Scout Haven during the summer.  That was the best! We meet at the Scout Hut in town and rode a bus to the camp which was about 30 minutes away.  The entire time on the bus we sang songs together.  One of the first ones I learned was “The Ants Go Marching”.  We were not restricted from religious songs so we also did Kum By Yah.  We sang rounds with one side of the bus being one group and the other side being the second group.  The time flew by.

Once at camp, we met up with our patrol which was a smaller group of girls plus a leader and assistant.  Generally these were high school or college girls.  They were idolized by all us young Scouts. The first order of every day was the raising of the flag.  The best job for the day was to be in the color guard and help with the flag raising.  Generally a camper would get to do it once each camp.  It was a great job.  Then we would leave the flag circle and go with our patrol to  the First Aid hut to get a big pinch of sulfur to put in our socks to keep bugs away.  Yes, we did the sulfur every day!  During the day we would have crafts, camping skills classes like putting up tents or cooking, and swimming in the lake.  We also all had chores to do to keep the camp clean and tidy.  Each patrol had a chore chart.  The yuckiest job was the latrine orderly.  In case you are uninformed about latrines, they are outhouses.  And since you “used” them, you had to help clean them.  I can remember ours being fairly new.  They had two little seat areas that were separate and afforded some privacy  The latrine workers had to sweep the latrine.  Then they had to put a big scoop of lime into each privy hole.  Finally, you used a big brush to wash the seat with PineSol.  So now you know how to care for a privy!  All us city girls were really fascinated by the whole outhouse thing!

On the last night of camp, all us little Brownies had a parent night.  We did skits about what we had learned.  We displayed our crafts. And we cooked out the perfect supper–Girl Scout Stew (which I still cook to this very day). Everyone toasted marshmallows and made S’mores which was a real treat!

The last year of Brownie Day Camp gave campers the chance to spend the next to the last night at camp. Oh boy! I loved that. I had a new flashlight, a sleeping bag—I was ready for anything.  We spent the most of that day putting up our tents, making a fire circle to cook our dinner that night, and just being excited! We cooked our dinner over the open fire and breakfast, too.  It was then that I realized that camping was my favorite thing to do. I love being outside and watching the sun come up.  I love listening to the frogs and birds.  There is nothing better.  Thank you Scout Haven!

Day 6: Moonpies and Flashlights-The only way to read!

When you are a child and like to read, you will go to any length to be able to read when adults think you should be doing something else.  And I was a B.I.G. reader!  Between new Nancy Drew books and old Nancy Drew books and the public library and the school library and the church library, I was pretty set.  But then as I grew older, I had other responsibilities at home that took me from what I felt was my sole responsibility-reading.  During summer when school was out, I wanted to eat breakfast while reading, sit on the porch and read until lunch. Read during lunch. Read all afternoon-etc. You get the picture. During the school year, it was a little easier to squeeze in some extra reading because you could always claim it  was “about school”! Chores were a lot less because you had responsibilities like homework, practicing the piano, going to Girl Scouts and of course, church activities like Girls Auxiliary.  It was also easier to grab extra reading time during class.  Most of our school books were large. I could just open the book to the correct page and then put my library book inside the cover.  Ta-dah! The perfect solution for me!  All I had to do was keep up with where the teacher was.  It was a great solution for me.  So now all I needed was a solution for those golden days of summer.

I was a Girl Scout and went to day camp every summer. I loved camp.  And the most exciting part was the overnight camp-out at the end of the session.  Well, I had to have a few extra items at the camp-out. One of those items was a flashlight. I had never had my own flashlight so I had to  play around with it one night.  Oh my goodness.  It provided just the right amount of light. Not too much. Not too little.  Then T.H.E. idea came to me.  Why not use my flashlight to extend my reading time in the evening? Hmmm.  That sounded pretty good to me.  But wait! What if someone-like my mother-saw me.  That would not be good.  I might lose my flashlight. I decided it was worth the risk.  I hid my flashlight under the covers of my bed and tried it that night.  I heard my parents go to bed and knew it was the time to give this idea a test drive.  Success!  I could use my pillow to form a slight tent and then read with my flashlight under the tent. And I could read as long as I W.A.N.T.E.D! Yay!

My extra reading time was wonderful except for one thing.  After reading for another hour or so, I would be a little hungry.  And I couldn’t get up because my parents would hear and come and check on me.  Hmm.  What could I do for food? My favorite reading snack was a big dill pickle.  I couldn’t do that. They were wet and drippy. Ah-moonpies. They were cheap. They were yummy. They were individually wrapped. And my mom bought a big box every week.  She thought they were good snacks.  So I would sneak into the kitchen and snag a moonpie whenever I could. Then I would hide it in the covers on my bed. Since it was my responsibility to make my bed, it was no big deal.    Problem solved!  I could read all night if I wanted.  I could snack and no one would be the wiser.  Success!

My father did notice that my flashlight seemed to use a lot of batteries that summer.  I wonder why!