C is for cookie, B is for boycott? W is for WTF?January 13, 2012
i guess i should let you know that later in this post there are some s-e-x related terms but nothing is graphic or anything like that.
When i was six years old i sat in my first grade classroom as my teacher Mrs. Howes passed out fliers to all the girls in the room. When i got mine i read that it was for an if you’re interested in joining Girl Scouts type session. What i really noticed was a picture of girls in a swimming pool. i thought, “If Girl Scouts means more swimming then i’m joining Girl Scouts.” And so it was.
We didn’t do any swimming in my regular Girl Scout meetings but they soon became my favorite part of the week. Each meeting meant something new and exciting; a craft, a song, a story, a play to act out, a field trip. The list was endless. It also meant a place and time that i got to see and meet girls that weren’t in my class or who were but didn’t know well. It was where i had my first big and deep conversations because my leaders would ask us challenging questions and we would all talk (without having to raise our hands!) and give our thoughts and opinions. When we were there it didn’t matter what we wore or what music we listened to or anything like that because we were just us. That’s not to say that there weren’t people who were closer friends than others but, at least in my troop, we never had cliques within. And we were so proud of being Girl Scouts we would wear our sashes to school for the whole day just so everyone would know we had a Girl Scout meeting or even that day.
One of the first things we learned as Girl Scouts was the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law. We had to memorize the Promise and we said it at the beginning of each meeting. As i got older i memorized the Law. (i still know them but i went to the official Girl Scouts site to make sure i had everything correct.)
The Girl Scout Promise
On my honor I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
The Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
This was (and still is how i try to live) it was hugely important. All it took was a look from our leader and a question, “Was that friendly or helpful?” “Are you using your resources wisely?” etc and there was a sense of disappointment in myself and a determination to work harder, to be more conscientious about the things i said or did.
That first year led to my first year at camp, which if you know me at all you know is one of my greatest loves ever.
Here is me during one of my earliest camp years smiling way too hard for the camera:
i went from a Brownie to a Junior to a Cadette to a Senior to a College Girl Scout to an Adult Girl Scout. And when i have a job that has at least semi-regular hours i plan on becoming a Girl Scout Leader/ Volunteer. And you can bet that as each year went by my troops grew smaller and smaller. My senior year of high school i was the only one but i never questioned whether or not i would keep going. In fact this is one of my senior pictures (i’m not sure why my smile is wonky or why i wore black pants with a blue thermal but still. . . )
There was a time when i rarely spoke (actually this is still sometimes true) but back then it was because i didn’t think i had anything important or good enough to say. i was terrified at the thought of getting in front of people to read something or teach something (and in many situations this is still true) but when it came to Girl Scouts i found myself. i learned and used leadership skills until i became a leader in training, president of my troop, a camp counselor among other things not to mention countless other non-Girl Scout related positions. i learned organizational skills and planned many trips, many events and was able to get through many a rainy day with kids at camp. i played games and sang songs and i was silly and carefree. i proudly got my Silver Award and my Gold Award. And i use the skills i learned through all those years EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Not to mention the friends i’ve made. i have friends from around the world because of Girl Scouts. When i went to London i met up with one of my friends from camp and we had an amazing time. i went to New York with another friend from Belgium. The last time i visited the cornfield i had dinner with three camp friends and we sat talking for so long that the restaurant closed and we got kicked out so then we stood outside and continued talking. It was the first time i had seen the three of them in probably four years and as soon as i sat at that table it felt like home. One of my counselors is now one of my friends and a regular reader of this *waves* “Hi Quibs!” The best part about all of these people is that we’re all SO different and maybe/probably in some cases we never would have hung out if it hadn’t been for Girl Scouts.
Okay so i’ve told you all this because there is a little something that has happened recently that makes me sort of want to throw up. There is a teen Girl Scout in California and a group of other girls, leaders, etc with her that would like to boycott Girl Scout Cookies this year. Why in the world would someone want to boycott those colourful boxes of delicious-ness? Because a Girl Scout troop in Colorado has a seven year old transgendered member. You can read an article here and see the group’s website here.
It’s sort of funny to me because many of the things listed on their website as shocking and appalling are things that i think are awesome and amazing and speak to the progressiveness of the organization i know and love so much. Things like: “Did you know that radical feminist Betty Friedan, founder of NOW (National Organization for Women) and NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) was on the National Board of GSUSA for 12 years?”
Here’s what i think: when i was in Campus Girl Scouts we did both campus events and community events. The campus events were only for fellow students and ranged from fun activities like a Back to Childhood day with pasta necklaces and sidewalk chalk and tag and all sorts of things to movies and discussions to what turned out to be our most popular event while i was at school our Safe Sex panel. We got a variety of speakers to come and speak about safe sex (both gay and straight) including demonstrations on how to properly use condoms and dental dams, masturbation techniques, and pictures and explanations of anatomy and erotica and all sort of things. Why did we do this? And why did we do this as Girl Scouts? Because we knew from talking to other women on campus that there were many things people didn’t know or had misconceptions of when it came to sex. We also knew that sex was going to happen no matter what. So we decided that we wanted to do something to make our world a better place and provide a safe unthreatening environment for our classmates to ask questions and learn things that could keep them safe and healthy. i’m sure there were people who didn’t want anything to do with it and probably some thought it was inappropriate but they respected us enough to simply not come to the event. And judging from the amount of cookies we helped our community sell i’m fairly sure they didn’t let it stop them from buying.
One of the community programs we started was a Fireside Chat where older girls (Cadettes and Seniors) could come to our campus and see what college was like, eat in the dining hall and ask us questions not only about college but about growing up and life and anything else. The idea was to provide a safe place for the girls to talk to a group of older girls in hopes that maybe we could help them in ways that parents/teachers/leaders couldn’t simply because of the age differences. Sort of like a big sister type thing. Before we could do the program we went through a training where we learned and discussed how to handle different situations because we had to remember the whole time that we were doing this as Girl Scouts. One of the things we discussed was what to do if a girl asks, ” Are you a lesbian?” My immediate response was, “Does that matter to you?” and in their answer to begin a discussion of why it did or did not matter to them. Why? Because in that situation my sexuality is of absolutely NO IMPORTANCE. i was there to mentor girls and help them not talk about myself. Now i know there are times when it is helpful to share a personal story in order to relay a point or ease someone’s mind, however i was taught through Girl Scouts that it was better for me to get to those same conclusions on my own. Sometimes i needed steering toward the right path but that’s all i needed and all i got from my leaders and that’s all i was there to provide. We were there to sort of act like those inflatable bumpers you see at bowling alleys. We could help them not fall completely but in the end they did it themselves. And the same was true for any other personal questions.
So it makes me sad to see this group of people wanting to boycott something so important (Girl Scout cookies does a lot as far as skill building but also is the only way that many girls are able to go to camp, me included, and in simple terms i don’t know that i would be around if i hadn’t had camp in my life.) It makes me sad that they have “to be honest and fair” and “be a sister to ever Girl Scout” largely at the top of their site. Maybe they are saying it is only fair to know these things about the Girl Scout organization and i’ll give them that. Knowledge is power- i like learning all i can about lots of different places whether it is where i shop or where i work. But i don’t think it’s fair to call for a boycott of cookies because they disagree with the decisions made by the same group they claim to be a part of and love. i don’t think it’s very sisterly to ANY Girl Scout to do it. Cookie sales are one of the ways troops can earn money for field trips or crafts or uniforms and badges. Why would you want to take that away from anyone? i don’t understand how they can feel good and comfortable saying to a group of girls excited for their first year of selling cookies (and perhaps they never would say this to them face to face but to me it is what they imply in their efforts) something like, “i know you’re excited about selling cookies but we want to make sure no one buys them from you. We want to do this because this organization that we CHOOSE to be a part of has made some decisions that we don’t agree with. What decisions? They’ve decided to include people that we don’t like in the group. They like to get input from and employ a wide variety of people, some of whom we don’t like because they think differently than we do. Oh and by the way they’ve been doing this for years and we’re angry about it.” i would love to hear those girls responses. (You should really look at the History of Girl Scouts page where they explain some of the awesome things they’ve done years before other people/groups have.)
i know this is all part of a larger thing, i know how real and alive homophobia still is and how alive and real transphobia is. But what i’m trying to say is that every time something like this happens i’m so proud of the Girl Scouts for doing what is right, for letting a little girl (who, albeit, was born in the wrong body) participate in a group that is going to help her become the strong confident beautiful girl she is and teach her more skills than she can imagine. i love them for basically saying there is nothing wrong with you.
i guess that’s all but i’m going to leave you with two songs. The first is one sung at many/most Girl Scout camps called On My Honor and even though it can get long and even annoying if you have to sing it repeatedly i love it and i love what it says. And because this is so important to me i decided to take two seconds and record it myself rather than find a recording of it so i apologize for the low quality of the recording but this is really more about heart than anything else and i promise i put lots of that into it.
The other one is a song that i was chosen along with another girl who i knew and would later share a troop with to sing at one of our council meetings when we were about ten years old. We fell in love with the song and i still love it. i found a video of the woman who wrote the song, Melinda Carroll, singing it with the Girl Scouts of Hawaii.
So in short PLEASE go buy Girl Scout cookies! Please support this amazing organization that has played such a huge role in my life and that i love so so so dearly. And support the girls whose lives are being changed as we speak. If you don’t know where to find cookies, i can help with that too. . . go here!
Thank you all for sticking with me through another lengthy rant/post. i love all my dino-moose-lets and can’t wait to hear from you.