What Happened to Girl Scout Roundups?

Roundup_Line

The Girl Scouts of the USA held four fabulously successful Roundups, in 1956, 1959, 1962, and 1965. Thousands of Senior girls pitched tents for two weeks of group living, friendship, songs, and adventure.1968 Roundup 2

Plans were in the works for a fifth Roundup in 1968. Leader magazine ran an article in which “Roundup ’65 Advises Roundup ’68.”

But the event never happened.  Why?

I’d hoped to research this question while I was at the GSUSA archives in January, but that trip was cut short by the Blizzard of 2016. Using other sources, I found three explanations.

1. The US Enters Vietnam

According to the Girl Scout Collector’s Guide, “A fifth Roundup was projected for 1968, but the conflict in Vietnam interfered with securing adequate supplies and government assistance” (p. 247). Indeed, US combat units began formal deployment in Vietnam in 1965.

As with Boy Scout Jamborees, the US military provided logistical support and equipment to the Girl Scout Roundups. The large-scale operation was used as a practical exercise in troop movements (military troops, not Girl Scout troops!).

 

Senate Aid 1961

New York Times, August 8, 1961

 

Senate Aid 1964

New York Times, June 30, 1964

2. No Reason

Official statements from GSUSA did not mention the military.

The GSUSA National Board voted to the cancel the 1968 Roundup in spring 1966.

1968 Roundup 4

3. Use Resources Wisely

Members evidently wanted an explanation. National President Margaret Price sent a letter to all council presidents.

1968 Roundup 1

New York Times, August 8, 1961

She cited the desire to create more opportunities for older Girl Scouts, instead of one super-sized event every three years. Indeed, Roundups were not cheap. Nation’s Capital spent $12,131.70 to send eight patrols to the 1965 Roundup.

That statement went to council presidents, not the membership at large. Leader magazine was not published in the summer, eliminating that opportunity to share the news. The only official notice was a small blurb in the fall:

1968 Roundup 3

According to Leader’s coverage of the 1966 National Convention, held October 23-28 in Detroit, the final session included discussion of the cancellation, but no specifics were included. I imagine it was a heated conversation.

Councils followed Mrs. Price’s directive and the Wider Opportunities (now Destinations) program was born. Many councils tried to hold an event in 1968, often using the familiar “Roundup” brand in their event name.

The Roundups are still fondly and vividly remembered by participants. Many still hold reunions to see their friends from across the country. I was surprised how many women still remembered their ID numbers after my first Roundup post.

 

 

 

 

The flags that lined the Avenue of Flags at the Roundups were donated to Rockwood National Center, where they greeted visitors for another decade.

©2016 Ann Robertson

15 thoughts on “What Happened to Girl Scout Roundups?

    • The round ups and its activity was put on by GSUSA and not by any one council. GSUSA wanted out of the business of doing them so Jamboree’s and Camporees were born. I think I was told about seed moneys from GSUSA for events greater than 500. It is much work and some Jamborees don’t come off like Minnesota Dreams a few years back. Councils who do put on these events depend heavily on volunteers. I have been to about 12 Jamboree’s since 1990″s. Some very good for our older girls some not so good. But we learn by doing don’t we! I think that Jamboree’s such as California Dreaming and Minnesota dreams should stand as a National destination for our older girls to be with girls from all over the USA.

    • Don’t think Round Ups will happen. I do however think that Jamboree’s will. Check out the Jamboree in NC at The Summit this summer. Very high on the outdoor activity’s. Camping event and very cost effective. Much more cost effective than Destinations. Please check it out!

      • I have checked this out, it sounds just fabulous. I have also shared this info. locally with my council and also at the Outdoor GS Project FB page. It’s good to get this kind of information out there. I hope it is VERY well-attended. 🙂

      • From the map they have posted it looks like many troops from all over the USA are going. I don’t know how your council is but these kind of events never make it down to the older girl troops. Would of loved to take a group this summer to ” Life Under the Big top ” in New York but found out about it to late. How is your council getting this information to their older girl troops?

  1. Our Region, back when the Girl Scouts still had regions, held several encampments and conferences. An encampment was held at a Girl Scout Camp and a Conference was held in a town or city, sometimes using a college campus, other times a hotel (or two) depending upon the number of girls attending.

  2. I believe in the early 90″s, Mid Atlantic region got together to plan a Round-up. Nation”s capital, Shawnee, Colonial Coast are three of the councils, I remember that were involved. We met multiple times, including an overnite at FT. AP Hill, meeting with the military staff that would be involved. They were even putting in extra outlets for the bathrooms to accommodate hair dryers. We had the program, the dates and the support until National would not agree to the liability insurance.
    Without the liability insurance we could not go forward. Heard many times during that process that girls had no interest.

  3. Terri Kelly - Currently in Girls Scouts of Southern Appalachia but grew up in Trailways Council, Joliet, Illinois |

    My sister was lucky enough to be selected to attend the 1965 Roundup in Idaho. I was always a bit jealous of the fact that she got to have this wonderful experience and I did not. I was able to attend several conferences during my years in Senior Scouts and that was great, but it paled in comparison to be able to go to Roundup. That was the ultimate scouting experience during the years I was a Girl Scout. It would be wonderful if we could bring them back, though the costs today would probably be prohibitive. Even to do it on a smaller, like regional level would be very nice. Say something like dividing the country into 4 or 5 regions and have roundups in each area. I don’t know, but I do know that I was sorely disappointed when they decided to discontinue the roundups just when I would have been eligible to tryout for selection in that elite group.

  4. I was just 14 when I was selected to represent my Council to attend the first Roundup in 1956. I can still remember the interview and then the patrol practicing and the camp uniforms and oh, many , many things. We entertained the GSUSA president, Mrs. Layton, for lunch of sandwiches on paper plates that blew off in the wind. Partly because of that extraordinary Roundup experince I am still an avid GS local, national and international volunteer today
    Of course I remember my number- 1B21364!

    • Hi Sue… I am a member of a dedicated volunteer organization at Highland State Recreation Area in White Lake, Highland, Michigan. In recent years, we have learned of the historic 1st GSUSA Senior Roundup that you attended. Also of historic significance is that Edsel Ford, the son of Henry, used to own the property up until the 1940’s. We appreciate and wish to preserve the historical significance to both the Girl Scouts of the United States and the history of our state park and volunteer organization. We are planning a dedicated historic plaque/sign to be mounted in the park on the lands you once enjoyed. Might you and i begin a conversation about the 1956 roundup? Sincerely, Jay Fitzgerald, Friends of Highland Recreation Area.

  5. Still remember where I was when I heRd that Round Up was cancelled. I would have gone in 68. Same info we got was because of the Viet Nam garbage.

  6. I was fortunate to attend the 1959 Roundup in Colorado; it’s a shame they had to end. I imagine the cost would be prohibitive today, but also I think times are different now.
    The people I talk to say their experience with Girl Scouts today doesn’t encourage primitive camping and they’re not sure today’s parents would allow it even if it were offered.

    • I agree that times have changed – – but I think the pendulum is coming back around to more Official Outdoor Program, Adventure, and Camping. So… it is not impossible that some version of a Roundup could happen in the future. I am hopeful about that.

  7. Pingback: Remembering Roundups – Girl Scout History Project

  8. Pingback: Roundup 1962 in Pictures – Girl Scout History Project

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