Finding programs to keep teenagers in Girl Scouting has always been a challenge. The four Senior Roundups may be the best known of these programs, but they certainly were not the only ones.
Three years ago I was introduced to the Senior Girl Scout Archaeological Camps. Between 1947 and 1957, over 300 Seniors (high-school age) participated. The University of Utah Press has just published a history of this early STEM program. Dutton’s Dirty Diggers, by Catherine S. Fowler.
Dr. Fowler participated in several expeditions and, like many other veterans of the program, chose to pursue a career in anthropology. She uses her own diaries from the program and those of several other participants to take readers out to the dusty desert, bumping along in vehicles that blew tires several times each day.
The program offered two-week long camping caravans and archaeological excavations that introduced teenage girls to the rich cultural and scientific heritage of the American Southwest as well as new career possibilities. Unlike the Roundups, girls could participate several times, allowing them to follow the painstaking progress of the selected sites.
The star of the book is Dr. Bertha Dutton, a curator at the Museum of New Mexico who served as trip leader. The girls’ respect and affection for Dr. Dutton is evident throughout the book, and many of the girls stayed in touch with her for years.
The National Parks Service has developed classroom materials on “Bert” and the Girl Scout program.
GSUSA ended the program after 1957, judging the experimental program a success. Staff at GSUSA announced that it was time for local councils to sponsor similar programs. Without Dr. Dutton’s charisma and intense involvement in the curriculum, local archaeological programs failed to take hold.
The fully illustrated book is a fun read and available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
This week I was contacted by someone doing research on the former Bear Creek Girl Scout Council.
She had done an internet search for Bear Creek and found me. That is where I began Girl Scouts, as I mentioned in another post a few years ago.
We talked a bit about Bear Creek’s merger into the Kentuckiana Girl Scout Council. I also offered to search my home town newspaper for anything relevant.
A quick search of the Paducah Sun archives produced a detailed article, as I expected:
But wait….what’s that on the page next to the article?
It’s a photo! An old photo with very little contrast. Plus the three figures are in shadow since they are standing under a canoe.
But if the faces aren’t clear, those three names sure are. That’s my old troop! I know those girls!! Heck, Laura Terrell sang at my wedding!!!
The photo is accompanied by a detailed article about the troop’s 1978 canoe trip to the Boundary Waters area on the US-Canadian border.
No, I didn’t make the canoe trip. I joined the troop a few weeks after they returned home. Even if I had had the opportunity to go, I’m positive my parents would not have let me. (Don’t even get me started on that subject….)
I already knew some of the girls from Junior Girl Scouts, the others I met at day camp later in the summer. After two weeks at day camp I felt like I had gone on the trip. That’s all they talked about! And they sang…the canoe songs… the car songs…the tent songs…. So many songs!
We’ve lost a few troop members over the decades, but I’m still in touch with many via Facebook. (Ladies, please leave a comment!)
Finally, I have to share another photo gem that turned up in my search. Nothing to do with canoes, but I need to recognize two women who were very important parts of my early Girl Scout years: Aleta Worthen, my Junior leader, and Mary Henry, my Cadette and Senior leader.
Before there were Destinations, before Wider Opportunities, Senior Roundups were often the highlight of a Girl Scout career.
These two-week encampments brought together high school-age Girl Scouts from around the country plus a few Girl Guides as well. They lived together in small groups, engaged in special programs and activities, and generally experienced the scope of the Girl Scout movement.
Four Roundups were held: 1956 in Detroit; 1959 in Colorado Springs; 1962 in Vermont; and 1965 in Idaho.
The Roundups were before my time, so I asked a member of the GSCNC Archives and History Committee, Kathy Seubert Heberg, to share her memories:
Fifty years since the last Girl Scout Roundup! It’s hard to believe that much time has passed. Anyone who attended one of the Roundups knows what a wonderful experience it was.
I was thrilled when I received my selection notice in December 1961 for the July 1962 Roundup, scheduled for two weeks in Vermont!
GSUSA President Olivia Layton calls Rounduppers to dinner in 1957 (GSCNC archives).
The excitement had been building since mid-May of 1961 when all the Washington Metropolitan Area Roundup applicants met for an orientation meeting. This included Senior Scouts from five Councils that were merging to become the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital – Alexandria, Arlington, National Capital, Northern Virginia, and my council, Southern Maryland. Each of these Councils selected their own representatives to Roundup; Southern Maryland was sending two patrols of eight girls each.
In early July, we formed initial patrols, elected patrol leaders, and started to meet on a regular basis. After a rigorous process, the Southern Maryland Council made their selections, and the two patrols were finalized. In the following months, we honed our camping skills and worked on our demonstration and swaps – we became a close-knit patrol and were ready to go. On the evening of July 17, 1962, all the area patrols gathered on the Washington Monument Grounds and received a grand send-off from family, friends, and Council officials. At that time, we each received a waterproof ID (think old-fashioned hospital wristband) that we wore at all times until we got back home.
We boarded three buses and headed north. We were excited, we talked, and we sang – there wasn’t much sleeping on the bus! We arrived late morning on the following day and located our patrol equipment and personal belongings. Tents, cooking utensils, and individual duffel bags, with all the important things – our clothing, swaps, stationery for letters home (this was long before cell phones!) – had been shipped a month beforehand.
We then headed to our designated spot to pitch camp. The entire encampment was divided by Section, Camp, and Troop, with each Troop containing four Patrols of eight girls each. All patrol items were marked with our specific number – 2F82. Each of us had an added number indicating our position in the patrol so all my clothing and personal items, for example, were marked 2F82-1. We settled in and met our Troop Leader, Jerry, and the other three patrols that made up our Troop – from upstate New York, western Illinois, and southwestern Minnesota. We got to work building our patrol picnic table, which was a bit challenging – I think we used a whole box of nails to hold it together! One day it collapsed – it didn’t fall apart – it just sank to the ground. It was easy to fix – just needed more nails.
Tents pitched at the first Roundup, Detroit, 1956 (GSCNC archives).
There was always something to do! In addition to preparing food, eating, and cleaning up, there were patrol meetings to let everyone know what was happening that day. Sometimes, we had assignments, such as being part of the flag ceremony on the Avenue of Flags. There were demonstrations by each patrol about something related to our home area. Because jousting is the Maryland State Sport, our patrol demonstrated a jousting tournament – with cardboard horses. The demonstrations were always interesting and fun to watch and, if you were lucky, perhaps you could get a taste of rattlesnake meat – really! In the evenings, we joined other patrols at Troop or Camp programs – perhaps folk dancing by Girl Guides, singing (of course), and Arena events.
The official camp uniform was “greenies” – dark green shorts and knee socks, and white camp shirt. It was very sharp looking but we could only take so many sets along – that meant hand laundry and line drying. Roundup was open to the public and we had a lot of visitors – the first day that Roundup was open to the public, over 4,000 people visited and that number increased. The patrol areas also had to be ready for visitors during certain hours of the day. Any wet laundry had to be out of sight during those times and, combined with almost daily thunderstorms, clothes took a while to dry! There were career counseling sessions, visits with Burlington College language students, and exhibits. Vermont is a big dairy state, and the cows and milking machines were a big hit! There were even milk dispensers scattered throughout the area. We drank a LOT of milk!
Regulation camp uniform (GSCNC archives).
Whenever, wherever, we exchanged swaps! Every State was represented and Girl Guides from 15 member countries attended. Meeting them was simply terrific! The best place to put all those swaps was on your Roundup hat – until you ran out of space and then you safely packed the rest away. Our patrol’s swap was a small, thin, pointed wooden dowel – like a jousting lance – slipped through a round piece of material (Pellon®) with Southern Maryland Council written on it and, of course, our own name and address.
SWAPS!!! (GSCNC archives)
For our meals, we received recipes and bags of food. We had enough for nine people because we always had a guest – usually a Troop Leader or Staff Member. We cooked on charcoal and had made many, many fire starters soaked in paraffin which were safe, lightweight, and easy to pack. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Girl Scouting with a special meal of grilled chicken. We received 4 ½ chickens – 4 were whole. Only one of us had the foggiest clue of what to do with a whole chicken. We ended up with a total of 90 pieces of chicken – some were a little small but it all tasted great!
The 1962 Roundup focused on the 50th Anniversary of Girl Scouting – “Honor the Past, Serve the Future.” The 50th Anniversary stamp was issued from Roundup, and we all kept the on-site Post Office busy by mailing First Day covers. One of the Arena Events was a special celebration of the 50th birthday, with special guest of honor Maria von Trapp visiting from nearby Stowe. The arena, a natural hillside, was a perfect setting and could handle 10,000 people. You can image 10,000 Girl Scouts on the move!
There’s so much to tell you about – all the fun, all the friendships! At first, I didn’t know where to start, and now I don’t know where to end. But it was an incredible time and it’s amazing to meet another Roundupper. It’s like meeting an old friend and sharing many great memories. The conversation usually goes – – “You went to Roundup? Which one? Me, too!”
–Kathy Seubert Heberg
Stop by the Nation’s Capital main office at 4301 Connecticut Ave., NW in Washington, DC, to see an exhibit of items from the various Roundups.
Why were the Roundups canceled? Read about it here!
Last Friday my Girl Scout troop took a day trip to New York City. One stop was GSUSA and the National Historic Preservation Center. None of the nine girls and two co-advisors had ever been to headquarters, so I was looking forward to showing them around. I’m also very happy that co-advisor Sylvie Warren brought her camera and took these wonderful photos!
After a very early morning bus ride from Bethesda, Maryland, we explored Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza, then headed south on Fifth Avenue to 37th Street, the main entrance to GSUSA at 420 Fifth Avenue.
Entrance to 420 Fifth Avenue
I had reservations for a 2 pm tour, and lunch at 1 pm in the GSUSA cafeteria on the 11th floor. There I ran into two NHPC staff members, consultant Martha Foley and Senior Archivist Yevgeniya Gribov, who would be giving our tour.
Yevgeniya Gribov and I.
After lunch, we headed up to the 17th floor for the National Historic Preservation Center. Yevgeniya greeted us in the lobby (where the girls quickly spotted the large jars of GS cookies). She told us the history of NHPC and led us into the document storage room. Although we could only look, not rummage through the boxes at will, it was still a treat. I made sure the girls realized that as many times as I’d done research at NHPC, I’d never been into the secure room before!
Next, we went into the museum portion of NHPC, where I introduced the girls to Chief Strategist Pamela Cruz and Archivist Diane Russo.
Then we had time to explore the historical displays. My troop has been to the Nation’s Capital archives on several occasions, but there were plenty of items they had never seen before.
But their favorite part was watching The Golden Eaglet, a silent promotional film made in 1918. The girls decided they should start saluting their leader, like the girls in the film. I have no problem with that.
Troop 2890 was here!
Most of my troop is in the 11th or 12th grade and will be heading off to college soon. If nothing else, I know they understand that there is far more to Girl Scouting than just our troop. They’ve worked with other troops, been to day and resident camp, Rocked the Mall, visited Rockwood, and one even worked with pandas in China on a Destination trip. They also know about the women and girls who came before them, and how the Girl Scouting has responded to social change.
They are the newest generation in a long line of courageous, strong women, and our movement is lucky to have them.
The death of Mickey Rooney Sunday led me to pull out a piece of my own Girl Scout history, a scrapbook from my Wider Opportunity.
Kentuckiana Girl Scout Council sent a group of Senior scouts to Washington, DC, Virginia Beach, Philadelphia, and New York City in August 1982. We stayed at the International Youth Hostel in Washington, enjoyed home hospitality with Colonial Coast Girl Scouts in Virginia Beach, bunked at the Girl Scout Program Center in Great Neck, Long Island, and met other troops at the Nassau Council office.
Mickey Rooney and my Wider Opp group. I’m on the far right. Yes, I’m even shorter than Mickey Rooney, and I think I was even wearing heels.
In New York, I saw my first Broadway show: Sugar Babies, an old-time vaudeville review starring Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller. We attended the 2 pm Wednesday matinee (seat H107, according to my ticket stub), then went across the street to Luchow’s restaurant for dinner.
There in the restaurant, having dinner, was none other than Mickey Rooney and his lovely wife, Jan. Our leader sent a note to his table, explaining who we were, that we’d just seen his show, and could we get an autograph. When a waiter delivered the note, Mickey waved it over his head and shouted, “You bet!” He was warm, friendly, absolutely gracious, and gave no hint that he had to get back for another show that night.
That little brush with star power sure made an impression on a girl from Paducah, Kentucky.
But not so fast. You can’t just go out and deal cookies on any street corner. There are rules. Most councils have a centralized booth assignment system, which secures and distributes booth locations up to two months in advance. The San Francisco Girl Scout’s booth was not approved by the Northern California Council; instead, it was her mother’s idea. It was a rogue booth.
The Girl Scout Council of Colorado, a state that recently allowed sales of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, quashed the hopes of many potential Thin Mint dealers. The Council clarified that its policy of not allowing sales outside adult-oriented business (such as liquor stores and gun shops) applies to pot shops, too.
Here in Washington, DC, there also is a movement to decriminalize marijuana, but that is old news for the Girl Scouts.
Patch from 1972 Wider Opportunity, “Petticoats, Pot, and Politics”
Teen Girl Scouts already weighed in on the marijuana issue, took their views to a Republican White House, and got an endorsement from the First Family.
In 1972 the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital sponsored “Petticoats, Pot, and Politics,” a Wider Opportunity (Destination) for Senior Girl Scouts. One hundred girls aged 14-17 from across the country joined 25 girls from GSCNC for two weeks of political debate at Trinity College in Washington, DC.
The Nation’s Capital girls helped design the program, selecting current issues with particular relevance for teens. They passed several bills, including one requiring sex education to be taught in school, but defeated a proposal to decriminalize marijuana, instead calling for possession to be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Leader Magazine, March 1973.
The experience ended with a reception at the White House attended by First Daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower, who declared that she agreed with the girls’ position on marijuana.
So, Girl Scouts on pot. Been there, done that, didn’t inhale.