Taking Pot Shots at the Girl Scouts

Marijuana and the Girl Scouts?  Not words you’d normally put together, but lately the news is full of stories about Girl Scouts and pot.

The buzz comes from San Francisco, where an enterprising Girl Scout set up a cookie both outside a medical marijuana dispensary and did a booming business.  With states increasingly decriminalizing marijuana, the stage seemed set for an army of girls in green helping legal users satisfy their munchies.

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"
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.

Petticoats Pot_JNixon
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.

(C) 2014 Ann Robertson

Thinking About the World Centres

In honor of World Thinking Day on February 22, the Nation’s Capital Archives and History Committee has created a display highlighting the four World Centres.  (Since the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is located in London, “centre” is the official spelling.)

Many committee members have visited one or more of the centres and shared some of their souvenirs.  (Alas, I haven’t been to any…yet!)  Most of the items came from Sandra Alexander, a member of the Friends of Our Cabana, and Joan Paull, who was the WAGGGS liaison in Washington, DC, for many years.

Committee members Joan Paull (left) and Ginger Holinka select items for display.
Committee members Joan Paull (left) and Ginger Holinka select items for display.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our display highlights four original pen and ink sketches of the World Centers. They are signed “Chris Bachofer,” but I’m afraid I don’t know the story behind them, or how they came to be part of our collection. (Please let me know if you do!)

For more on the World Centres, see their websites: Pax Lodge, Our Cabana, Our Chalet, Sangam.

Happy Presidents’ Day!!

Who doesn’t love a parade!  Girl Scout troops love marching in parades.  It’s a great way to learn about citizenship, serve the community, and have fun!

These Juniors from Arlington, VA, Troop 315 are suited up and ready for the 1990 Old Town Alexandria George Washington Birthday parade, the oldest parade in the United States honoring our first president.

Arlington, VA, Troop 315 readies for the 1990 Old Town Alexandria George Washington's Birthday Parade.
Arlington, VA, Troop 315 readies for the 1990 Old Town Alexandria George Washington’s Birthday Parade.

Snowed in at Camp Potomac Woods

Who remembers the Girl Scout troop that became snowbound at Camp Potomac Woods?

Helicopter from Fort Belvoir airlifts Troop 163 from Camp Potomac Woods in 1958.
Helicopter from Fort Belvoir airlifts Arlington Troop 163 from Camp Potomac Woods in 1958.
Washington Post, February 17, 1958
Washington Post, February 17, 1958

A Huge Snowstorm and a Very Brave Girl Scout

We’ve have the biggest snowfall Washington, DC, has seen in four years, but today’s storm is only about half of the 28 inches that fell on January 28, 1922.

I recently found a new (to me) photo of Helen Hopkins Zelov, a co-leader in Lou Henry Hoover’s Troop 8 who helped guide rescuers to survivors of the Knickerbocker Theatre collapse.

Helen Hopkins Zelov, a co-leader in Lou Henry Hoover's Troop 8, helped rescuers locate survivors of the Knickerbocker Theatre disaster.

Her bravery inspired Carolyn Caughey to donate her Rockwood estate to the Girl Scouts.

Zelov Medal 1
GSUSA letter to Helen Hopkins Zelov.

Zelov Medal 2

Cookies, Camps, and Kotex: Daisy and Disney Go With the Flow

Cookie season is here….cue the annual deluge of misinformation about our program.

Right on schedule, GSUSA has restated that it “does not take a position or develop materials” related to human sexuality, birth control, and abortion.  Yet some groups still have their undies in a bunch when it comes to Girl Scouting.

All this talk of schedules, girl parts, and panties reminds me of a time when Girl Scouts did dabble in gynecology.  In the early 1950s, the Girl Scouts teamed with the International Cellucotton Products Company (makers of Kotex) to provide educational materials about menstruation that could be used at troop meetings. The materials emphasized the need for straightforward, accurate information to counter rumors and superstitions. Camp directors were encouraged to put periods on their program, too.

GSUSA letter to council presidents about Kotex leader packet.
GSUSA letter to council presidents about Kotex leader packet.

Kotex offered leaders free copies of two booklets, “You’re a Young Lady Now,” for Girl Scouts ages 9-12, and “Very Personally Yours,” for teens and adults.  Leaders could also borrow a short animated movie, The Story of Menstruation, which was produced by the Walt Disney Company in 1946. (Yes, Disney + periods, go figure.)

The GSUSA Program Department created a leaders’ guide that included sample letters and telephone scripts to use when contacting troop mothers prior to the discussion.  The guide advised leaders to have a nurse on hand to lead the post-movie discussion and provided sample questions and answers. Leaders were also encouraged to distribute slips of paper so that girls could ask discussion questions anonymously. This also allowed leaders to filter the questions.

The guide included feedback from leaders who had already tried out these materials with their troops:

  • The questions “were principally on duration of periods, bathing, activity during menstruation, etc.  A few, on reproduction, were not covered in the discussion.”  (Whew!  Sigh of relief!)
  • “The experience was pleasant and decidedly inspiring. The girls thoroughly enjoyed the film and asked a number of sound questions. They squealed with delight as the cute baby roused from sleep, sat up, smiled showing a single tooth.  The bride at the end of the film was greeted with ‘Oh’s’ and ‘Ah’s.”
  • “As for the children, they were wonderful. I expected their reactions to be wholesome but I wasn’t quite prepared for their calm, natural acceptance of the explanation which the motion picture gives. No one will ever fool them with the silly superstitions in which so many women believe.  What a wonderful way to grow up!”

The Disney movie is available on YouTube, but it hasn’t really survived the test of time.  I showed it to my teen troop, and they were practically rolling on the floor with laughter.

GSUSA’s Leader magazine carried ads for Kotex and the film through at least the late 1960s, when Kotex significantly rewrote all of its materials.

Ad from April 1963 Leader magazine.
Ad from April 1963 Leader magazine. Yes, it really was that color.
Ad from January 1966 Leader magazine.
Ad from January 1966 Leader magazine.
Add from October 1969 Leader magazine. Getting a little racy here.
Ad from October 1969 Leader magazine. Getting a little racy here.

But one aspect of the program hasn’t changed: Girl Scout troops are still a safe, comfortable place for girls to ask awkward questions. I imagine leaders liked being prepared with the handouts and sample answers.

I’ve thought of creating a “period patch” that would teach girls that it’s OK to talk out loud about periods. Instead of an anatomy lesson, activities would look at advertising, history (what did the Pilgrims use?), and period-friendly fashion design.  They could collect products for a women’s shelter as a service project.  Hmmm…

What do you think?  Did you have the period talk with your troop?

To the Girl and Boy, Scouting IS Camping

Summer resident camp registration began last week at Nation’s Capital, as thousands of parents signed in to the online system.  Hundreds of girls will make their first pilgrimage to Camp May Flather, Potomac Woods, Winona, and Coles Trip this summer,  following in the footsteps of their sisters, mothers, and grandmothers.

Recently I found a wonderful GSUSA statement on the value of camping tucked away in one of our Rockwood history boxes and this seems a good time to share it:

Camping, the chance to live away from home, in the out-of-doors, with its offer of primitive life and woodland adventure, is part of the dream of every girl who becomes a Girl Scout … the tent, the campfire and all those things connected with the romantic adventure of simple living in the out-of-doors, continue to lure American children ‘to the camps of known desire and proven delight.’

Scouting’s great appeal to girls and boys — and leaders too — is in its promise of outdoor adventure. It is this assurance that those who ‘come along with us’ will have many opportunities for camping and hiking that has attracted and will continue to attract young people to Scouting. None of the other interesting and worthwhile things that Scouts may do have this paramount importance of camping. To the girl and boy, Scouting IS camping.

This has been true since the beginning of the movement. In his earliest writings, Baden-Powell made it very clear that one of Scouting’s important aims was to give young people abundant opportunities to go camping. He saw the camp situation as the troop leaders’ greatest opportunity to train young people in Scouting.

… The camp experience should not be something separate and apart from the troop’s other activities. Rather, it should be a continuation, and perhaps the most important part, of the troop’s year-round program. The troops that are able to progress through camping experiences of increasing interest and difficulty, last longer and do the most effective work. It is the camping troop that girls flock to join.

The statement comes from Guideline 5B of the 1959 GSUSA Council Administrative Series, authored by Julian Harris Salomon.  Trained as a landscape architect, Mr. Salomon designed the grounds and camp sites at Rockwood, the Macy Center, even Camp David. He worked for the National Park Service and later was property manager for GSUSA.  Mr. Salomon testified in the dispute over the proposed sale of Rockwood in 1981 (and I hope to get a copy of his deposition one day). His efforts to preserve Rockwood for future Girl Scouts were recognized by naming one of the Manor House rooms in his honor in 1987.

Collective Access: Technical Info

The gateway to our Girl Scout archives!
The gateway to our Girl Scout archives!

As mentioned previously, we are embracing technology and turning to Collective Access software to inventory and manage the Nation’s Capital collection.

We are very fortunate to have a council information technology team that has embraced this project and helped us to get up and running.

What Is Collective Access?

Collective Access is a suite of free, web-based applications that “work together to provide a seamless cataloging, collections management and collections publishing platform.”  The core cataloging app is Providence, while Pawtucket offers web-based searching and Tiverton offers a map-centered user interface.  Collective Access also offers a Configuration Library comprised of custom templates and record forms developed by other users.

VPS: The Host

A very basic setup requires a computer server on which to install the Providence application and hard drive storage space for the data.  Since the council system is Windows-based and CA uses the Linux operating system, it is easier to find an outside company with Linux to host the application and our data.  Council helped us set up a Virtual Private Server (VPS) through an Internet service provider.  For about $50 per month, we have 300 GB, divided into 50 GB for the database and 250 GB for storage.  We can access the program from anyplace with an Internet connection–the council offices, our homes, etc.  In the future, the Council may host the program itself, but for now, this arrangement works.

Roundabout: The Templates

Our Council IT guru also installed the Configuration Library from the Roundabout Theatre Company in Manhattan.  I selected this library after researching the many, many configuration schemes available on the CA site.  It’s really a very good fit.  Roundabout has costumes, props, and scripts, while Girl Scouts have uniforms, gear, and handbooks. Plus, Roundabout has a way-cool archivist, Tiffany Nixon, who is a tremendous ambassador for Collective Access.  She graciously met with me and gave me a full tour of her system for Roundabout.  Take a look at the Roundabout Archives website to see what Collective Access can do!

Carpet Diem, Part 2

Recap: We had to empty out the archives storage space while the Council office gets new carpet, so we “seized the day” to reorganize our space.

Today my husband installed the new Elfa shelving that he configured for the archives “pod” space at the Council headquarters.

He added high, ventilated shelves to hold our assorted Hollinger Metal Edge boxes.

Elfa shelves can be easily adjusted for height.
Elfa shelves can be easily adjusted for height.
Mark is an expert with Elfa shelving. (Really. You should see our closets at home!)
Mark is an expert with Elfa shelving.

Mark also adjusted the existing shelves to the same height as the plastic storage tubs (66 qt Sterilite ClearView Latch from Target) I used to group similar objects and boxes.

We will add two more shelves later.
We will add two more shelves later.
With standardized tubs, we can fit more items in and hopefully locate them more easily.
With standardized tubs, we can fit more items in and hopefully locate them more easily.

We kept one existing bookshelf and added a built-in hanging rod for uniforms.

We moved most of the items back into the pod, but others will have to wait until we have additional shelves for the baker’s rack.  They are stored at the council equipment site in Virginia.

Looks like we need new labels for some of our boxes.
Looks like we need new labels for some of our boxes.
There also is an additional high shelf where we will put empty boxes and other supplies.
We have a second hanging rod that we can use if needed, but we would need to adjust the shelf height first.
We have a second hanging rod that we can use if needed, but we would need to adjust the shelf height first.

With the current Elfa sale at the Container Store, the cost of the new shelving was just under $200.

Thanks Mark! You’re the best!

Carpet Diem, part 1

Plans for the new Nation’s Capital Resource Center have been delayed yet again, so instead of packing for our future storage site it looks like we will stay in our storage “pod” at the council headquarters for most of 2014.

However, plans to re-carpet the headquarters — plus a good post-holiday sale on Elfa shelving at the Container Store — have given us an opportunity to rethink and maximize the space we have now.

Currently we have two unmatched bookcases and a large metal “baker’s rack.”  The baker’s rack is good quality and very sturdy, but it is out of proportion with our mixed assortment of plastic storage bins and various Hollinger archival boxes.  Each shelf is stacked two or three boxes high and as many deep.  It is quite the adventure to excavate to the lower depths of the pod and I’ve always made sure to take a buddy in case I fall in!

Step 1: My architect husband measured the pod.  He had never visited the council office before and was astonished to discover that our storage room has only three walls–and one of those is made of curved glass blocks.

Step 2: Completely empty out the archives pod and desk area. Luckily, all this is happened during Winter Break. Four girls from my troop spent a day at Council and managed to clear the pod entirely. They even took apart and reassembled the baker’s rack in the temporary storage area. What a great team-building exercise!

The girls disassembled the pod shelving.
The girls disassembled the pod shelving.
They reassembled the shelving in the storage area.
They reassembled the shelving in the storage area.

Step 3: Evaluate the materials and determine how to group boxes as well as what furniture configurations will work and what won’t.

A very small sample of our storage needs.
A very small sample of our storage needs.

Next…..see the results!