Submitted by Nancy Clary
My Girl Scout ”chapter” began in first grade. I was living in Holyoke, Colorado, and they accepted Brownies a year early. We sang songs, such as, “I have something in my pocket that belongs across my face…it’s a great big Brownie smile!” Then, my family moved to Denver, where I continued my scouting education. My life changed dramatically. I had just turned ten when my mother died. Five months later, my father suffered a stroke, hospitalizing him for a year. Yet, Girl Scouts continued to support me in Manchester, Connecticut. My father was partially paralyzed when my two brothers and I returned to Denver. I was considered to be the “Lady of the House,” even though I was a tom-boy who loved the out-of-doors and camping. Girl Scouts helped me do both. By age 14, I was a “Prospector” at Flying ‘G’ Ranch when a fire broke out in a tent, about a mile from the main lodge. Our patrol rushed to put the fire out, while two members ran to the lodge for help. There was no water at the camp, so we soaked blankets in a near-by one foot wide stream to beat the flames. We were well-prepared for the “emergency response” experience.
Time flew by and I entered high school. I was chosen to attend the 1965 Roundup – the last one, as 10,000 Girl Scouts relied on the Army for security, and the Vietnam War was intensifying. 10,000 Girl Scouts sang together as an American flag rose on five flag poles. Even soldiers were moved. The entire Roundup experience was magical. Our patrol trained for a year, practicing cooking on charcoal, gathering and packing equipment, and even putting up baker-style tents. Our patrol hosted two Girl Scouts from Mexico. They arrived the night of the 1965 Denver flood, so our first adventure before Roundup was to assist flood victims. One lasting memory of Roundup of mine was of all the Colorado Girl Scouts assembling around the Colorado state flag to sing and dance together.
In my senior year of high school, I volunteered, a Girl Scout requirement, at a home for severely challenged children. That experience inspired the next chapter in my life. Thank you Girl Scouts.
Early in my career as a Special Education teacher, I participated in an Outward Bound course especially designed for teachers. Through them I was able to write grants to enable disabled and inner-city students to experience mountain wilderness and river adventures. For the first trip, students had to raise $50, which was a lot of money for each. One student started his “account” with 13-cents. He brought in a few cents each day to finally earn $54. With the extra money, he bought wool pants and socks at an Army Surplus store. When a deaf student, along the Green River, asked, “Are these rocks man-made?” all I did was smile. He also washed dishes for the first time in his life. I have many fond memories of students experiencing the out-of-doors for the first time in their lives. Thank you Girl Scouts.
Then, marriage and children happily enveloped my life. My husband and I raised two sons, but not to worry. My husband is an Eagle Scout, and both of our sons became Eagle Scouts. Scouting is in our blood and family life. We moved to Conifer when our older son was 18-months-old. Our life was filled with scout activities from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. Of course, our sons were also involved in sports, music, and academics. Our children grew up in the out-of-doors, embracing scouting values. Now, they are both successful adults living on their own.
The next chapter of my life is retirement. I volunteer for CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocate, to work with neglected and abused children in the Court system. I also volunteer for Park County Search and Rescue. My Girl Scout experiences continue to influence my life. I co-authored a couple of articles about Search and Rescue and safety for summer adventures and wrote another about a Girl Scout experience 50 years ago. I am grateful for all of my Girl Scout experiences, values, and adventures I have experienced over the years.
My final chapter will never be written. At a friend’s Memorial Service, we all sang, “I Know a Place.” In a sense, that is my legacy too. “I know a place where no one ever goes. There’s peace and quiet, beauty and repose. It’s hidden in a valley beyond a mountain stream…Now I know that God made this world for me.” Thank you Girl Scouts.
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