On My Honor: My 9-Year-Long Experience as a Girl Scout of America

See, I even had the vest with the cool patches and the beanie!

See, I even had the vest with the cool patches and the beanie!

Fun fact: I–yes, me–was a Girl Scout for nine years. I know, I know, that’s sort of surprising, isn’t it? But yes: I was indeed a fun lovin’ Girl Scout for a whole nine years. Looking back on some of my experiences as a Girl Scout, I thought, “Man, would this make for a really fun (and funny) blog post.”

Basically, the way I see it, there are two types of Girl Scout troops: 1) the kind where all the leaders do with the girls is do dinky little arts and crafts projects; and 2) the kind where the leaders are super hard core and take the girls on camping trips where we’d have to go out in the woods to get the sticks for the craft projects. I had the great pleasure of being part of Group #2. My troop–Troop #150–was led by my grade school best friend Rachel’s mom, Mrs. Dabertin, sometimes known as Mama D. I’m not going to lie to you…Troop #150 was probably the coolest troop in the region. One of my mom’s friends once described us as the Firefly Girls troop in Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier. Yea. We were that cool. We did some incredibly fun stuff, like camping (as in, cabin, tent and winter camping), horseback riding, water park resorts, selling cookies (well, duh, we are Girl Scouts after all), crafts and we learned important life skills, like making a sling out of a bandanna and how stay alive in the wilderness, and a lot more. Here you go: the hilarious tale of my years as a member of Girl Scout Troop #150.

This was the start of Troop #150, when we were just wee little Daisy Girl Scouts.

This was the start of Troop #150, when we were just wee little Daisy Girl Scouts.

CAMPING TRIPS

Here's my grade school best friend Rachel and I, around second or third grade.

Here’s my grade school best friend Rachel and I, around second or third grade.

We went on a TON of camping trips during grade school. A ton as in, we went on one at least once or twice a year. I’ll tell in some detail some of my favorite camping stories in a bit, but there’s a couple really quick ones that come to mind, like the time we went tent camping at this place called Potato Creek, and some of the girls in my troop forgot to take the food out of their tent and they were woken up to a lovely raccoon in their tent at 3 AM. There was this one time we made pudgy pies (basically a grilled cheese but cooked over a fire in a pudgy pie contraption thing) and made up another verse for the camp song “Oh, I Don’t Want to go to Girl Scout Camp”. Or how whenever we went on these camping trips, or any overnight trip for that matter, my best friend Rachel was the only brave enough to sleep next to me in the cabins because I move around so much. No, I’m serious. I move around A LOT when I sleep. Rachel said she woke up one morning and I had basically wiggled out of my sleeping bag and my foot was almost in her mouth. I’m weird, I know.

CAMP NAMES

We also got really cool face paint. You can see by the red and yellow that this was during the height of my Harry Potter obsession. I sometimes regret not choosing 'Hermione' or 'Fluffy' as my Camp Name.

We also got really cool face paint. From the red and yellow paint, you can see this was during the height of my Harry Potter obsession.

As you can see I wasn't very photogenic as a kid.

As you can see I wasn’t very photogenic as a kid.

On our very first camping trip, we all got Camp Names. It’s a Girl Scout tradition. I think this particular camping trip was Indian-themed, so we made these cool little Indian headdress hair bands. To the left are my many faces while making said headband before I finally decided on the Camp Name ‘Lilac’. Don’t ask me why I chose Lilac. Maybe it was because I have a huge lilac bush in my backyard. Maybe I thought it was adorable. Who knows. I just liked Lilac.

Oh, and here's one of Rachel going, "Mrs. Dominiak, do you haveeee to take another picture??"

Oh, and here’s one of Rachel going, “Mrs. Dominiak, do you haveeee to take another picture??”

Other girls picked out cool names like Jazzy, or Blossom (I think; there was a lot of flower power and Power Puff Girls obsessions going on in the days of my youth). My dad’s was Spider-Man, obviously. My friend Courtney’s dad’s was Angel Man Freddy. Like I said, logic was so hard back then when we were choosing these names.

HAIL MARYS FOR DAYS

We also did cool things like learning to tie knots. Still, I can't tell you what kind of knot this is or how in the hell I was able to tie it.

We also did cool things like learning to tie knots. Still, I can’t tell you what kind of knot this is or how in the hell I was able to tie it.

There’s this one place where we camped very often called Apple Acres. There’s a ‘legend’ behind the old Girl Scout Camp Ground that goes along with one of it’s hiking paths called Dead Man’s Trail. Don’t worry, looking back on it, the story behind Dead Man’s Trail isn’t actually that scary at all, although at the time I was the one freaking out like there was no tomorrow every time I heard the dang story.

Basically, the trail has these super old, beat up cars from, like, the 1920s or 1930s. Around the car debris are old soda cans and shoes that would now be considered ‘totally hipster, bro’. The story goes that these two teens, a guy and a gal, were driving to prom on an extremely rainy night and they ran off the road. They tried blaring the radio to call for help but no one ever came and they died and no one ever found them. The legend has it that in the middle of the night you can still hear the radio playing in the distance along with cries of help.

Okay, thank God I’m telling the actual Dead Man’s story and not hearing it at camp because I forgot how terrified I got as a kid….anyways! Apparently, to go along with the radio in the middle of the night, Dead Woman is supposed to haunt the woods right by the cabins. There were two ways I figured out that the legend was fabricated: 1.) One night when we were older and on a camping trip I woke up in the middle of the night and saw one of our leaders walking around with boom box in hand and playing the radio. I’m pretty sure that Outkast was on–because people in the 1920s totally loved the then chart-topper ‘Hey Ya!’.

Reason number two is quite embarrassing, but I’ll tell you anyways: 2) One trip around dusk, when we were in about third or fourth grade, some of the leaders took the girls on a night hike. I, along with a couple other moms and girls stayed at the cabin because I was getting tired and wanted to eat some more (but let’s be real here, I probably wanted to find my flash light and read some more Harry Potter. I’ve got my priorities people!). About forty-five minutes later, we heard some screaming and we ran to the cabin doors to see what was going on: There was an old, white prom dress hanging in the trees.

We went hiking a lot. I think this is where I first realized I was in love with Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken'.

We went hiking a lot. I think this is where I first realized I was in love with Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’.

My friend Marcella and I FLIPPED. OUT. Next thing I know, we’re both sitting under the a picnic table in the cabin praying the Hail Mary and rocking back and forth with tears rolling down our faces waiting to meet our ultimate doom. I finally opened my eyes about five minutes later and my friend Korelle was standing next to the table draped in the old white prom dress. She’s laughing her butt off, as are the moms and leaders and other girls. Marcella and I left and I went to find my Harry Potter book before bed.

WHEN I GET YA I’LL EAT YA

One of the things my troop took pride in was the Father-Daughter camping trips. My dad went with me on countless camping trips, and you’ll hear a couple more stories about him later on.

In grade school, I had a few BFFs, Rachel, Courtney–more commonly known in grade school as Court Dog– and Marcella. There was this one camping trip where we were all sitting ’round the campfire (just singin’ our campfire songs) and my dad started telling a story.

“Late one night on the grounds of Apple Acres Girl Scout Camp,” my dad said, “there were two girls named Rachel and Courtney. They were the best of friends. But, on this night, Rachel woke up and couldn’t find Courtney anywhere in site. She started freaking out; then she saw that Courtney had put on her muddy shoes and left tracks leading outside. Rachel grabbed her flashlight and followed the tracks out to the woods where she found Courtney by a small fire, muttering something under her breath. ‘When I get ya I’ll eat ya! When I get ya I’ll eat ya!’ Rachel called out to Courtney, frightened: ‘Court! Are you okay?’ Courtney turned around, her index finger promptly in her nostril, still saying, ‘When I get ya I’ll eat ya!'”

DUDE, THAT’S MY CAR

We also learned important life skills, like learning how to make pizza.

We also learned important life skills, like learning how to make pizza.

There was this one trip we went on with all the other troops in the region called the Survivor Camp. It was basically like the Girl Scout’s version of the TV show Survivor. A bunch of dads, including my dad, went on the trip with us.

Some of the girls from the older troops on the trip thought it would be funny to hide behind the cars on the edge of the woods and then jump out and scare the younger troops like our troop. My dad and my friend’s dad, Donny, were standing outside talking when they saw some of the older girls run up and crouched behind my dad’s car. Donny started laughing. My dad just looked at Donny and smiled.

“Why are you smiling?” Donny asked my dad.

My dad pulled out his car keys. “Dude, that’s my car!”

Donny started laughing even harder, and my dad promptly hit the PANIC! button on the remote control. The girls jumped up, and started running and screaming in the direction of their cabin.

FEILD TRIPS

MOM, WILL YOU PLEASEEEE GO TOBAGANING WITH ME?

Here's a photo of my mom and me, and my friend Korelle by the bonfire. I had a great sense of head fashion back then as well.

Here’s a photo of my mom and me, and my friend Korelle by the bonfire. I had a great sense of head fashion back then as well.

One winter when we were older, we went on a trip to Pokagen State Park. They’re known for their huge toboggan run (at least I think that’s what you call it), and I was super excited because this was the first time in a few years my mom was coming on a Girl Scout trip with me. We packed our bags and got bundled in our purple winter jackets and headed to meet the rest of the troop at school to head off. I’ve got two short stories about this trip:

1. When we got to the hotel, Mrs. Dabertin had to go ask for something at the front desk, mad she said she would be calling our room in a few to tell us what the plan was. Well, we all get up to the room–I believe my mom and I were sharing a room with Mrs. Dabertin and Rachel and our friend Amy– and then the phone rings. My mom, being the hilarious person she is, answers the phone and says, “Dino’s Pizza!” Dino’s was a pizza parlor in our town. We could hear Mamma D on the other end going, “Oh, Roberta!” And we all,started laughing. They spoke for a minute and then my mom hung up.  Then, a minute later, the phone rang again. My mom, thinking it was Mrs. Dabertin, answered in a deep, horror movie voice, “Have you checked the the children?” Silence.

It wasn’t Mrs. Dabertin again. It was the hotel front desk.

2. Later that day we started tobogganing and it was SO MUCH FUN. Those were my exact words to my mom after I got back from the first run.

“IT WAS SO MUCH FUN MOM YOU HAVE TO GO WITH ME NOW COME ON!!!” I jumped up and down in front of her.

My mom, nodding her head in sync with my jumping, said, “I don’t think so!!” I was incredibly upset as I walked up the long flight of stairs to the top of the toboggan run.

I had a blast he second time down, and we stood on the side lines watching everyone else come down. We were cheering people on, when one of the moms says to me, “Look Hannah there goes your mom!”

BETRAYAL. That’s what I felt. That and HOLY CRAP MY MOM’S ON A TOBOGGAN GOING FIFTY MILES AN HOUR. YAY! BUT WITHOUT ME. HOW RUDE.

She made it up to me by painting these cute little mother-daughter rocks to remember the trip by. We still have them and they’re adorable and they have snowmen on them.

I COULD HAVE BEEN ON AMERICAN IDOL

I even learned to surf. This is the extent of my surfing abilities. I have neither the knowledge or the balance to stand up on a surf board.

I even learned to surf. This is the extent of my surfing abilities. I have neither the knowledge or the balance to stand up on a surf board.

One year, we went on a really fun weekend trip to the Kahalari Water Park Resort in Wisconsin Dells, and it was probably by far one of the coolest trips we ever went on.

The car ride was fun; my dad and I carpooled with my friend Donella and her dad and my friends Courtney and Korelle were in the car too. Courtney and Donella sat in front of us and played video games the whole way there, and Korelle and I were all the way in the back and watched a movie with Chad Michael Murray. He’s so hot.

Anyways, the weekend was filled with a lot of fun activities, like surfing (see left), chummin’ around in the lazy river, going on water slides (I got my dad to go on one really huge one! It was so awesome!) and my personal favorite, Kalahari Idol.

This was both the start and end of my reality singing career.

This was both the start and end of my reality singing career.

Kalahari Idol was a karaoke contest that let audiences vote on who they wanted to bring back to the resort for the finals with a free trip. My friend Marcella and I sang our little hearts out. I sang my favorite song at the time, Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’. I was obsessed with the song, probably more obsessed with a song than anyone could be at the time. I listened to it every single morning on the way to school with my dad. He probably knows all the words to it, too, because that’s how often I made him play it. After a few weeks of non-stop Carlton on the way to school, my dad started making up his own lyrics to my jam:

“If I could have, some chocolate pie, do you think squirrels can really fly?”

Yes. That just happened.

Anyways, I kept thinking, this song’s gonna get me on American Idol! I’m gonna be famous! 

Needless to say, I was never called back to the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells. I’d like to think that the Kalahari was the reason for never taking a singing lesson in my life so I could be a famous Broadway star. Now, I just sit in watered down hopes that my life could still be a musical where I have the best singing voice in all the land.

HORSEBACK RIDING IS (NOT SO) FUN

Almost all girls my age loved horses for some weird reason. I have no idea why. They’re horses. I liked them back then too. My dislike of them didn’t come until after this trip. This one year we went to a dude ranch a few hours away. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was excited. There was supposed to be a bunch of cool stuff at this place to do besides horseback riding, like swinging around on this cool rope swing:

Here's me attempting to swing on this tree rope swing thing. Rachel's in the back, probably going, 'Oh dear God I really hope she doesn't kill herself.'

Here’s me attempting to swing on this tree rope swing thing. Rachel’s in the back, probably going, ‘Oh dear God I really hope she doesn’t kill herself.’

Besides the horse story (I’ll get to that in a couple sentences) I don’t really remember much from the trip except for hanging out with Courtney a lot of the time. Here’s a picture of the two of us. This was before the ‘selfie’ got big:

Courtney had cool kid sunglasses. I had weird ones that clipped on over my glasses.

Courtney had cool kid sunglasses. I had weird ones that clipped on over my glasses. This was also during the pre-braces era when kids called me Bucky the Buck Tooth Beaver.

Anyways, there was this one day on the trip where we all went horseback riding (obviously, we were at a dude ranch). Everyone was soooo excited, including me. We were all walking past the stables and such, pointing and gawking at all of the beautiful horses and having a grand ole time. We would try and pick out which ones we wanted to ride and guess what their names were.

photo 1 (4) copy

Here’s me on a horse. As you can see from the caption in my scrapbook, horseback riding wasn’t going to happen again in my foreseeable future.

It came time for the actual ride and we were assigned our horses. The moms and dads on the trip got the cool horses and so did the other girls. They got the cute pony horses; one dad even got the horse named Lucky (no, not like the Britney Spears’ song. This may be the 2000s but horse namers weren’t that stereotypical) because the horse was lucky to be alive. I guess it was in an accident and only had one working eye. It had a glass eye and was perfectly healthy otherwise.

As excited as I was to ride horses, I was still pretty nervous. Like, I’d ridden the ponies at fairs and such, but this shit was real life. These people were hard core. My horse’s name was Dunn. Yupp, Dunn. As in, I’m almost done with life. Dunn was not only the oldest horse at White Pines Dude Ranch, but he was also the slowest horse at White Pines Dude Ranch. Just the horse to pair with the already nervous chickadee.

So we got on the trail, and Dunn and I are trudging along. Actually, trudging is putting it nicely. We were moving at snail speed, and not Ryan-Reynolds-in-Turbo-speed. We were inching along slowly behind everyone else. The only person behind us was one of the trainers/trail guides and he, along with myself, kept going, “Come on Dunn! You can do it!”

Only, he couldn’t. Dunn kept tripping over his feet and slowing his pace and we got really behind. Meanwhile, while Dunn is trying to keep his heart going, my little heart kept racing and racing, and the only thing going through my head was OHMYGOD I’M GOING TO FALL OFF THIS HORSE AND I’M GOING TO BREAK MY LEGS AND I WON’T BE ABLE TO WALK FOR WEEKS AND I’LL HAVE TO SIT OUT OF FUN ACTIVITIES AND BE ON CRUTCHES. I’m just thankful that there weren’t any snakes in sight, because Lord knows that Dunn would have gotten spooked and probably try to run off, rather attempt to run off, and leave me in poison ivy or something.

Finally, a few hours later we made it back to the stables. A guide walked Dunn and I back into his stable and I got off the horse, handed the guide my riding helmet, said good day and swore off horseback riding for all eternity.

COOKIE WHISPERER

Here's Rachel and I on a camping trip. Rachel's making the signature Girl Scout hand gesture everyone made when we had to say the Girl Scout 'On My Honor' Promise.

Here’s Rachel and I on a camping trip. Rachel’s making the signature Girl Scout hand gesture everyone made when we had to say the Girl Scout ‘On My Honor’ Promise.

I always loved when it was time to sell Girl Scout Cookies, for a number of reasons: 1) we got to dress up in our full Girl Scout uniform and go door to door looking incredibly stylish (see photo in introduction); 2) who doesn’t like getting cookies?; and 3) I always sold lots of cookies and got the extra cool ‘300+’ patch for my vest.

Everyone in my family LOVED when it was cookie selling season. We each had our favorite cookies: Mine was a tie between Tagalongs and All Abouts, although I always loved binge eating Thin Mints, too; my dad LOVED Thin Mints; a few years after I became a Girl Scout, we started ordering whole boxes instead of just the individual boxes; my mom also loved Tagalongs, and Samoas were among her favorites too.

Each year, every girl was given a cookie packet, which basically came with two huge order sheets and two small, travel sized order sheets. See, cookie selling was sort of a family affair in my household. I went door-to-door in my aforementioned stylish Girl Scout uniform selling cookies to my neighbors with my mom following me around to make sure I didn’t get kidnapped. My dad took a cookie order sheet to his office in Chicago. Basically, he would just leave the sheet taped up on his office door and when he would come back the next day there would be tons of orders on it. Business people loved Girl Scout cookies. They ordered for themselves, they ordered for the break room. They even ordered for their families after they took care of stocking up the office space.

Aunt Rose would take one of the travel-sized forms with her to work. I LOVED when Aunt Rose sold cookies. She loved it too, because, and I quote, ‘I was never a Girl Scout so I never got to do this!!!’ Don’t worry, Aunt Rose, you’re a Girl Scout in my eyes! Anyways, I loved it when she sold cookies at the school she worked at. There was a lady there named Mrs. Sosa. I remember her because she reminded me of Sammy Sosa who played for the Chicago Cubs (this is the one and only Chicago Cubs fact that I know. I am a die hard South Sider at hart). Mrs. Sosa always, always, always ordered 33 boxes of cookies. She would ship them to her kids across the country and boy was I thankful her kids lived so far away. I think I cried the day Aunt Rose told me that Mrs. Sosa left her school.

Between me and my dad and my aunts and my mom, we sold so many cookies. I loved getting the cool ‘300+’ boxes sold patch every year! I’d like to think of us as Cookie Whisperers. We were just that awesome.

JUST BUST A MOVE…OR A HEAD…EITHER WORKS

Here's my friend Gina and I after becoming Brownies.

Here’s my friend Gina and I after becoming Brownies…or Daisies. I can’t remember wich.

One of the big things that always happened during Girl Scouts was when we held Bridging Ceremonies and moved up from Daisy Girl Scouts to Brownies, Brownies to Juniors, and Juniors to Cadets. They were really fun ceremonies and we even got to cross over actual bridges:

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During my Brownie to Junior bridging ceremony, my whole family came and I was super excited. My sister was between the ages of three and five and she was a rambunctious little gal. She kept running around the room with the other little kids. My mom and everyone else around her kept telling Maggie not to run around because she was going to get hurt.

At one point in my life, I thoroughly enjoyed nature.

At one point in my life, I thoroughly enjoyed nature.

And guess what happened?

She got hurt.

Just picture a three year old version of Maggie, running around like crazy and then BOOM. There she goes, running into the only brick wall the Panel Room has. She runs into it, bounces back, and sits herself down. She touched her forehead and then felt the blood starting to trickle down her face and screamed, “MOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMM!”

I flipped out and ran to the bathroom to grab paper towels thinking my sister was going to bleed to death. She’s alive and well now, and actually, it wasn’t that bad at the time either, although I’m pretty sure that brick wall still has a small blood stain somewhere on it.

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Girl Scout Troop #150 from St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Whiting, IN in 2001. Back row, left to right: Rachel D., girl who’s name I forgot, Jessica, Kayla, Arieanne? This was really a long time ago, Donella, Gina, Rachel H. Front row, left to right: me, another who’s name I forgot, Amy, Korelle, Bridget, Girl #3 who’s name I forgot, Marcella, Sam and Alyssa. Also, I feel terrible that I forgot some of your names.

Me, receiving a pin for my awesome vest from Mrs. Hurtig.

Me, receiving a pin for my awesome vest from Mrs. Hurtig.

Me, getting a patch for my super cool vest from Mrs. Dabertin.

Me, getting a patch for my super cool vest from Mrs. Dabertin.

I used my own two hands to help build a pond at my grandpa's nursing home to get my Bronze Award.

I used my own two hands to help build a pond at my grandpa’s nursing home to get my Bronze Award.

Me, during some part of the Brownie to Junior Bridging Ceremony.

Me, during some part of the Brownie to Junior Bridging Ceremony.

Back: Rachel, Korelle and Donelle. Middle: Rachel W. and Alyssa. Front: Me.

Back: Rachel, Korelle and Donelle. Middle: Rachel W. and Alyssa. Front: Me.

Here we are when we were older. I can't tell who's who exactly 'cause it's blurry.

Here we are when we were older. I can’t tell who’s who exactly ’cause it’s blurry.

Do you have any fun memories from Girl Scouts? Share them in the comments!

 

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