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.
Girl Scouts have long held a special place in my heart.
Throughout elementary school, I knew where I was going when the bell rang on Thursday afternoons. I was going to Laura Ledford’s house for our Scout meeting. I knew there would be something fun to do – and that snacks would be available.
Mrs. Ledford did the best she could to keep our energetic gaggle of girls entertained. There were plenty of special occasions. Once she hosted a Scout sleepover on a Friday night when we were in the fourth grade. At some point early in the evening, we learned Jim Croce had died in a plane crash. Melissa Marveggio cried all night long because she loved Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.
Such are the moments and memories every childhood needs.
Unlike Girl Scout meetings today, there was very little Scout-related paperwork back then. Mrs. Ledford did not have to file forms in triplicate for every occasion.
I understand the reasons the forms, rules and regulations have come into play, but they are a discouragement to today’s moms trying to do right by their daughters and volunteer as Scout leaders.
Even so, I decided to take the plunge last year for our youngest daughter, Piper. Other mothers had stepped up to the plate for our oldest daughter’s troop. They had gone to Herculean efforts to plan and coordinate activities and excursions. I didn’t want Piper to miss what I consider a vital piece of childhood.
I took the Scout troop idea one step further by specifically inviting other girls adopted from China. The Girl Scout meetings could be a chance for these children to bond.
The makings of our Daisy Scout troop started last fall. Daisy Scouts are the pre-cursors to Brownies, which are the pre-cursors to Girl Scouts. We needed five 5-year-olds to make a troop. We filled out all the paperwork. We wrote the checks. We held it in a manila envelope waiting for the day for our fifth and final member to join our group. Finally, she came. We were going to be an official Daisy Scout troop.
Unfortunately, our fifth Scout was only able to come to two meetings. Her mother was overrun with too many places to take too many children. The other mothers and I understood. However, what would we do with four wanna-be Daisy Scouts?
Then we had a revelation.
What if we went on meeting as planned, but decided to become Petunia Scouts instead? There would be less paperwork. We wouldn’t have to file what amounted to an act of Congress to take a field trip. We could keep our troop small and manageable and give our daughters the experience we hoped to give them from the onset.
I suggested the name Petunia Scouts in honor of my grandmother. For some reason when the movie Steel Magnolias came out, she would always say, “They may be steel magnolias, but we’re steel petunias.”
This was coming from a woman who took a painting class in 1977 and learned to paint a magnolia. She painted that magnolia on every available surface for the next 20 years. She loved and lauded magnolias. But for whatever reason, she didn’t want to be a steel one. Metaphorically, I’m not certain how she saw the difference between the steel versions of magnolias and petunias, but I figured, if petunias worked in her mind as an appropriate replacement for magnolias, they were suitable for our purposes, too.
Hence, four little girls and their mothers have been meeting every other week or so for more than a year now. We have become a part of each other’s lives. We never made the Daisy Scout status, but each of our little Petunia Scouts knows she’s a member of something bigger than her self. And the moms have realized we have someone to call when we need a second opinion, a baby sitter in a pinch or a shoulder to cry on.
Juliette Gordon Low would be proud.