Happy Birthday Girl Scouts!

Me, as a Girl Scout, circa 1968

Happy birthday Girl Scouts!

Today this venerable organization for girls turns 100.  I attribute my success in my life and my career to a great Girl Scouting experience. The motto “Be Prepared” has served me well in public relations and in my family life.

I was a Girl Scout for the ten best years of my life and couldn’t let this occasion go by without looking back at what Girl Scouting did for me.

As a Brownie, I learned about the importance of friends, and helping others.  I went to day camp at Strawberry Lane and made a sit upon, which I used to sit on the floor of the Royalview Elementary School gym in Willowick, Ohio.  My dad and I attended our first (and only) father/daughter cookout, an event he raved about until I was an adult. We had cute brown beanies and little brown dresses.

I moved up to Junior Scouts and met Mrs. Bosu, our leader for Troop 501 of the Lake Erie Girl Scout Council.  That woman knew every song every written and should have been an opera singer.  She was fearless at everything she did. We camped in the pouring rain and jumped in the hay of an old barn.  We learned about service to the community when we went Christmas caroling at an old folks home.  We went roller skating, which was huge in the late 1960s. Somehow my grandma became a cookie selling machine and my mom’s sewing machine was pressed into service for all kinds of troop projects. I wrote my first column called “Ask Fran” and published a newspaper for the troop using a mimeograph machine.

For some reason, I didn’t quit in junior high when the ranks begin to thin.  As a Cadet scout, I explored career possibilities by completing numerous badges.  By this time, service to the community was second nature.  One of my fondest memories was an all-day cleanup to cull out the lily pads which were choking out the ducks at the pond – just around the corner from Strawberry Lane where I first went to day camp.

By the time I was in high school, there was no way I would drop out.  Our Senior Leader, Mrs. Hodina, was an amazing role model. She could wear a dress, she could drive us to camp in her giant truck, and she understood teenagers, adapting our meeting schedule to meet the needs of 10 very busy high school girls. We couldn’t wait until our winter campout at Camp Hilaka, where we took over the leaders’ house, built fires and went sledding. We continued to serve, organizing a Field Day each spring to teach camp skills to the younger girls.

I sold cookies out of my locker.

One summer, I got to go to sailing camp, achieving a childhood dream. The following year, I qualified for a Wider Opportunity.  Traveling to Wisconsin, I met girls from all over the world, bounced on a bog, met Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers and learned that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.

While many of my memories are about fun, what Girl Scouting taught me is that service to others is the greatest gift you can give your community.  It also taught me to understand things and people that are different from me, and that friendships are everlasting.

So, to Juliet Low, Girl Scout founder, thank you for being our pioneer. Here’s to a hundred more years of empowering girls.