Who Needs Badges When You Have A Beanie?

brownie-scout-beanie-1960sScouting was a tradition in our family.  My brothers were Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.  I was a Brownie Scout and Girl Scout.  My daughters were Daisy Scouts and Brownie Scouts.

Which was surprising since I hated it.

A dream of mine was that my mother would be more involved in my life.  Or, as that adult phrase translated into a 7 year old’s vocabulary, that she would like me more.  So I was SO excited that she was going to be our brownie troop leader.


Photo credit Holly Bierregaard

Photo credit Holly Bierregaard

I have gratefully rekindled friendships and acquaintances from my past, including Holly Bierregaard (2nd from the left) whom I thank for the use of her picture, and author Patty Dann (far right) whose latest book “The Butterfly Hours” has improved my writing immensely.  

Holly maintains that since this photo was off center, I probably took this picture.  


It took about 5 minutes to realize that the pride and excitement that I had that my mother was the leader was actually acutely stressful.

One of the many cues to my parents that I couldn’t/can’t focus easily was my inability to earn a badge.  As soon as I got the handbook, I started to earn every single badge in the book.  Literally.  Everyone could find one step that they could do.  Badge X, Step 3 “Run up and down the stairs twice.”  I totally made that up, but it was the kind of thing I could do to earn that badge.  But I couldn’t do any of the other steps.

brownie-badge-1960sLuckily, just by existing in the troop, I earned this one.

It quickly occurred to me that I was the Queen of staying indoors and reading, and the worst kid in the entire world at anything else except knitting.  My mother had to correct me every step of the way.  In front of all of my classmates.

The height of embarrassment was embroidering a flower, something that I should have been good at, carefully, and accidentally, onto my uniform.  We all lifted up our flower designs, and my uniform came with it.  People laughed.  My mother was annoyed.  I wanted to disappear while earning a badge for sewing flowers onto one’s uniform.brownie-badge-1960s-making-a-t


I could definitely have earned this one.  “Standing Like the Letter T.”



But there were two awesome parts of scouting.  Every former scout knows what I’m about to say.  Marching in the Memorial Day Parade and Girl Scout Cookies.

“On my honor, I will try:
To do my duty to God and my country,
To help other people at all times,
To obey the Girl Scout Laws.”

I was so proud to march down King Street in Chappaqua, NY with that promise in my heart and the American flags waving.  That is actually a pretty powerful promise.  I haven’t thought of it in years, but it bears contemplation.

The crème de la crème of Girl Scouts are the cookies.  Selling?  Now that’s something I’m good at.  Besides running around the neighborhood with my beanie tied to my dog Bluey’s head, my father took the order sheet to work.  He was a professor of aeronautic science at Manhattan College and, as a Colonel in the USAF, the highest ranking person there.  So it was no surprise that he got a kazillion cookie orders.

cookie-box-showing-silhoutte-of-scout-prayingThis box was introduced in 1968.  Can you imagine if the silhouette of the scout praying was printed on the boxes now?

I won the most-boxes-sold award for our troop and my prize was a sock monkey. Hmmmm, a mother as leader as a father as biggest order donor?  I’m sure my friends thought it was rigged.

While I continued to be in scouts, and continued to be the greatest indoors person ever, my parents decided Girl Scout Camp was for me.  I lived in one of the wealthiest suburbs of New York City, had a maid, didn’t know how to swim, was scared of the dark and petrified of bugs.  I guess my parents decided I needed to toughen up.


If a badge was given for being petrified, I’d have earned it hands down.

I cried my way through my two weeks at Rock Hill Camp writing daily WHY DO YOU HATE ME letters to my parents.  My very first chore there was latrine duty.  I wasn’t even good at cleaning the toilet at home.  Which I started to yearn to do.

Miserable and exhausted by dinnertime,  I was unaware of the clean-your-plate rule.  I put a small amount of food on my plate but couldn’t eat it all.  We weren’t allowed to leave the dining table (mess hall style) until all was consumed.  Eventually, after gagging on the extra pats of butter on my plate, they let me go.

I survived, actually liked canoeing, never learned to swim, hated latrines, was still scared of bugs and things that made noise in the night, but loved the campfires.  And earned zero badges.

But who needs badges when you have a beanie.




About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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25 Responses to Who Needs Badges When You Have A Beanie?

  1. patty Dann says:

    I love this! I am honored to have been in your Brownie troop! There should have been a badge for writing. You would have gotten one.
    Young writers unite!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was never a brownie, a girl scout or a girl guide. Even if I had been, like everything else I wouldv’e been in Big Sister’s shadow. Although not earning badges, I am receiving certificates for my achievements………… for losing weight (I started late!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ksbeth says:

    i loved being a brownie!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul says:

    I’m so glad I was never sent to camp or signed up for any kind of scouts when I was a kid. I know I would’ve hated it. And have you ever noticed that adults are always forcing kids to eat more/everything on their plate? Like I know we have to teach them not to waste food, but sometimes they just can’t eat anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      But I thought you liked camp stuff. The gagging on the butter was for real. I had such a small appetite that from then on I took a “no thank you” portion, even if I liked it. Can you imagine? Even if you didn’t like something, you still had to eat some of it. A “no thank you” amount.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        I like camp stuff from the staff member side. Plus all it was was playing sports with the kids all day. And when lunch rolled around only a few kids were on the lunch program, everyone else had food from home all I had to do was say “2 more bites” about 3 times to each kid.

        Sounds awful! I remember when I was in University I asked for a meal in the cafeteria but didn’t want the chili that came with it because I hate chili. And the lady was like, “Are you sure? You’re paying for it anyway”. I had to “no thank you” her and explain I wouldn’t eat it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        The only sports I remember besides swimming, which humiliating, was archery, which was also humiliating.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        But any sports would be awful to me. Except bowling. But there isn’t a big need for bowling skills in the woods.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        We did the mainstream sports. Chasing a soccer ball around for an hour was a good time killer lol. We also had archery but no one liked standing behind the person shooting, so we scrapped it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        Ha! Archery looks easy, but it was really hard for me to pull the bow strings back far enough. If I got that far, then forget being able to aim.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. bluestempond says:

    That was so funny! I also remember my Brownie days. We spent a lot of time listening to Beatles records and watching “Dark Shadows” before the meetings. My favorite memory was cooking bacon and eggs for our fathers on the lid of a coffee can with a candle under it. I was so proud!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I’m sure it’s where I first learned about s’mores. This blog post has definitely made me think more and more about parts of being a Brownie that I liked. But it sounds like you earned badges. Thanks for commenting!


  6. Ann Coleman says:

    I loved this post! And I wore the exact same Brownie uniform that is shown in the photo. Personally, I like the scouts, but that was because of the fun things we got to do, and our meetings were usually held right after school, with snacks included. We also did a few day camps, which were fun. I also did a girl scout camp, and it was okay, but not as much fun as I had anticipated. The late night trips to the latrine were the worst!
    We didn’t march in the parades, but did sell cookies. Unfortunately, we were living in campus housing at the time, so I could only go from door-to-door in the campus apartments, competing with all the other kids doing exactly the same thing. Good for you to win a sock monkey!
    Dang, can you tell your post brought back a lot of memories? Sorry for such a long comment!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lorriedeck says:

    I love this! I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout, but I loved going to camp. When I was a Brownie, Girl Scout cookies sold for 50 cents a box. 50 cents….I’m old. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  8. OMG! I thought those badges look familiar…and I suddenly have this song in my head “we’re the fairies glad and gay, helping others every day”..going round the toadstool…Eeeks! I was once a brownie! LOL. Now I didn’t think that memory would come surging back!

    Liked by 1 person

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