There are no words to adequately acknowledge the tragedy suffered by our Girl Scout family this weekend. In Wisconsin, a pickup truck plowed into a Junior troop gathering trash on a roadside, killing three girls and an adult and seriously wounding another girl.

How can we possibly comment on this loss?  How do Girl Scouts grieve?

My first thought was to share part of some traditional Girl Scout song, but none seemed quite right.

I also remembered an odd set of photos from the Nation’s Capital archives. It seems to be a Girl Scout honor guard at a funeral in the 1920s.

, Girl Scout History Project
Girl Scouts carry the casket of a friend, circa 1920 (GSCNC Archives).

But then I thought of something else. Something much simpler, a ritual that a 9 or 10-year old’s troop mates would understand.

It is a ceremony known as “Our Last Friendship Circle.”

, Girl Scout History Project

UPDATE: This ceremony was created by Mary Burdett of the Western Ohio legacy council.

Please share. This tradition should not be stored away in the depths of an archive.

©2018 Ann Robertson

10 responses to “When a Girl Scout Passes Away”

  1. I have been part of similar ceremonies both as a girl, (one of the neighborhood’s leaders (and mother to a troop-mate) died from cancer, and this was done at her funeral). And later several times as an adult. If any members of the decease’s family are Girl Scouts, they were the ones to start and finish the “squeeze.” One leader and long time volunteer I worked with, at her funeral her oldest daughter started it, and her youngest grandchild was the last one to receive it.

    It is very moving to see many of our “family” present either in uniform (or unifying look), or wearing their pin(s) at visitation or the actual funeral services.

  2. Very lovely ceremony.

  3. Lisa Gheno-Cuevas Avatar
    Lisa Gheno-Cuevas

    Thank you for sharing this article with us at a time when our grief is raw, This gives us change to begin the healing of our hearts.

  4. “Mary Burdett, GS Western Ohio, is responsible for this Scout’s Own.” This is the info someone sent me back in 2015 on that sheet that was passed around at the historian’s conference outside of Chicago back in 2014. I would like to see that it gets to the families of those killed, if anyone knows who to contact. I don’t want to contact them directly because with the media coverage and the pain they are feeling, they need their privacy. Is anyone from their council reading this?
    Karen Pauli, GSWISE

    1. Karen, thank you for sharing the author’s name. I know for a fact that GSUSA executives shared it with the CEO of GSNWGL, who will pass it on to the families.

  5. I’ve been involved with GSUSAHORNEST for at least 8-10 years as a troop Dad, took the camping class so my ” GIRL’S ” could go camping became a TRAINER so I could share my knowledge of camping and Dutch oven cooking. I have never been involved with a GS funeral, I pray GOD spares me this DUTY but should it fall to me I will use this guide, if I need permission I would get that of course.

  6. I have also stood as honor guard at the wake for a very long time Girl Scut friend, in very much the same way I had the sad duty for fire department friends, standing at attention at the end of the casket, preferably in one at each end, rotating out.

  7. Thanks Margaret. Still remember Helen Foster’s funeral and how moving it was.

  8. Thank you so much for posting this. I will be keeping it, just in case.

  9. Jennifer Carson Avatar
    Jennifer Carson

    Thank you so much. My troop just preformed this ceremony last night, for our sister Girl Scout Junior.

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