In fourth grade I joined the Girl Scouts. It is an organized group with activities and collaboration, although coming from a family of 5 children we had own group activities, like helping make food for church events and picnics. The Girl Scouts was formed in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low. It was about 50 years in progress when I joined. My school friend’s parents were the Den Leaders. I loved learning about the (LTL) concepts, which stand for Loyalty, Trust and Laughter. I would sing the song with exuberant enthusiasm along with the other girls in our troop.
We wore the green Girl Scout uniform and had a guide book. In the back of the book you found out how to earn the merit badges. I set my sights on getting my first merit badge. Once earned it would be stitched on the crisp uniform my mother bought me. My favorite early scouting experience was a camp over in the Den Leaders’ back yard. Following plenty of hot dogs, hamburgers, pickles, chips and soft drinks, we made s’mores. After watching the campfire burn down to coals, telling scary stories, and gazing at the stars, we tumbled inside the tent and fell quickly asleep. It wasn’t long before I became more outgoing having been rather shy growing up.
In this learn and grow environment came an amazing opportunity. The troop from our region that sold the most Girl Scout cookies could win a trip to Disneyland. This was a major entertainment experience in the mid-sixties, as the amusement park hadn’t been around long. I had gone twice with my maternal grandmother and older sister but wanted to go again. It was expensive so getting in free was a good motivator. As soon as I had the Girl Scout cookies’ price list, order forms and money envelope, I went door to door to sell cookies right after school. I was hesitant at first but my mother said it would be OK because we knew our neighbors. When I smiled like an angel they were hooked into the sale. They bought the tasty treats for 50 cents a box.
I had the honor of selling the most cookies and our troop sold the most boxes to win the trip. I was thrilled with my accomplishment of standing out from the crowd. Disneyland! Wow! When Sunday was the day that was decided upon by the Den Leaders for the trip, there was an impasse. My father was a devoutly religious person as was my mother but even so his word was final. I could not go to Disneyland because I had to attend church. It was a devastating disappointment and an occurrence that impacted me for many years to come. Not only was I prevented from going, he called the Den Leaders and told them they weren’t good Christians for going on a Sunday.
It was a humiliating experience. I felt like a zombie. I went to the Den Leaders house for the next meeting. This occurred following the trip everyone took to Disneyland, that is, everyone except for me. The Den Leaders looked at me kindly, sympathetic to what had occurred, but I couldn’t face them. I felt awkward and never went back. When my father told my mother she should have bought a used Girl Scout uniform at the Goodwill, since I had stopped attending meetings, I couldn’t speak my anger to either of them. I just kept quiet and suffered my pain and indignation.
I was 40 years old before I let my father know, by phone a few years after my mother’s death, how unfair I thought he had been. He listened to the adult who was back in the wounded childhood experience speaking of her anguish. Quietly he said, “I’m sorry.” Blinking hard so the tears wouldn’t come streaming down my face, I said, “It’s OK, Dad.” Now I was an adult who had children and an understanding of how mistakes are made. In retrospect there was a positive outcome in that one must accept things in life are not always fair and to find the golden lesson.