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.
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!).
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.
3. Use Resources Wisely
Members evidently wanted an explanation. National President Margaret Price sent a letter to all council presidents.
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:
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
21 thoughts on “What Happened to Girl Scout Roundups?”
Wouldn’t it be nice to bring Roundups back? I think the Girl Scout girls would love them.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hi Jay, I live near the Highland Recreation Area and am interested in knowing if an historic plaque was placed there in recognition of the first GSUSA Senior Roundup. Having been a member Scout for 11 years, a volunteer for 13 and even a professional Girl Scout for 3, my heart has a special place for the history of Girl Scouting.
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.
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.
I attended the first 3 Roundups. In 1956, I was a Patrol Leader, 1959, I was a Messenger, and in 1959, I was a Song & Dance Leader. I remember standing next to Maria Van Trapp on stage as everyone sang, “Do, Re, Mi”. During those years, scouting I met Arlene Francis on her Home Show on NBC-TV, Mrs Irving Berlin, Mrs Rober Wagner (NYC- wife of the mayor) and many exciting people. I’ll always cherish my scouting years from Brownies, Intermediate, Senior, Associate, to Adult.
I attended 1965 Girl Scout Roundup in Idaho, after my sister attended Roundup in Vermont. It was a wonderful experience. I was fortunate to be in an international patrol. I have tried over the years to get in touch with the two girls from Israel that came to join us. I went off to college, married, had children, and then my granddaughter went into scouting. I have told her stories about Roundup, and started to wonder what happened to this wonderful experience, especially after my son, an Eagle Scout, went the Jamboree. This has helped me a bit to understand the demise of Roundup, although i still would love to be in touch with my Isareli fellow scouters.
When I was a Girl Scout (1960-71) from day one I had what we today call a bucket-list of goals to accomplish before I graduated out of Scouting. I wanted to visit The Birthplace in Savanah; thanks to my former Cadette troop and the cookie money we had accumulated for a number of years, I go to go, and it was WONDERFUL! I wanted to visit Our Chalet. . Every three years our council (West Cook Council, IL) sent a small group to one of the international centers. When I was a Senior they decided to go to Our Cabana, not the Chalet. Scratch that. And I wanted;… no, I WAS GOING TO NATIONAL ROUNDUP!!!! I never even considered I might not get chosen; I WAS GOING!!! When I heard it was canceled, I was CRUSHED. I felt CHEATED! I felt I was ROBBED of something incredibly special that I had had been anticipating ever since I first learned of the event (Juniors?) It was one of the reasons I held on through Cadettes to be a Senior! I was looking forward to going to something huge where I could meet Girl Guides from other countries (same reason I wanted to go to the Chalet). Smaller local events just weren’t the same.
I came back to Girl Scouting some 40 years later to be a volunteer historian. I don’t have a lot of interaction with the girls, but what I hear from the older girls and their leaders is that they are frustrated with the very limited selection of activities for anyone above Juniors. You are having trouble keeping older girls in Scouting, and it’s not just that there are more extra-curricular activities for them today than I had available to me. It’s that they want things that are fun and exciting to do that are just for their age group and not simply more of pushing STEM and leadership at them. I think a lot of them back off from a camping event because they’ve never been exposed to real camping. They would love something like a Roundup! These jamborees I’m now hearing about need more publicity. A lot of the older girls don’t know they have these opportunities. I was talking with some older girls and I mentioned being able to earn retired badges. They had no idea they could!. Give these girls some of the old experiences that we loved so much, and I think we’ll have better retention of the high school age girls. Bring back Roundup or something like it! Come on, National; throw your support behind these Jamborees and let these girls know what’s realy out there!!!
Once again those who went to round ups I do envy. But I was able to attend a Jamboree on that very site in Idaho that did host a Girl Scout Round Up and Boy Scout Jamboree. There were Girl Guides from Canada and England. This was put on by the local Girl Scout council with some paid staff but many many volunteers! I followed with my troop going to Camporee’s and Jamboree’s in South Dakota, Kansas, and 2 in Minnesota. One in Minnesota attended by greater than 1000. The second Jamboree in Minnesota I personally brought 138 girls and adults in 3 buses. These events have been happening but not well shared from other GS councils and GSUSA. It takes much work and in some cases 1 to 2 years of work to make them come off. I know this because both myself and my husband worked many of these events as security, health tent, and taught classes.
I encourage you that GSUSA is NOT going to take up the challenge to do a round up or Jamboree, it has to be done by a local GS council. The best thing is the cost is much less that any Destination and girls meet Girl Scouts from all over the USA and in some cases international participants, and can attend with their whole troop.
Those of you out there Please go to your councils and encourage them to plan and implement these Jamboree’s, whether a camping event out of doors or a event on a college campus with classes taught by college students with Stem, Sports, Arts, History, High Adventure, ect.
I was lucky enough to go to the 1962 Girl Scout Round Up in Vermont and going back to Button Bay a few years ago could not figure out how it all fit into the small area. Any ideas? I was one of several groups that went from the Philadelphia area.