Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Special Brownies

We talk about our Moms a lot here on the blogs, but that's because to Chelly and to me, our Mothers were such role models and strong, hard to forget women, just like we aspire to be.

Now, to know me as an adult, you would never even imagine me outdoors doing anything remotely close to building a fire, setting up tents or learning to cook in the ground or over a flame. Stepping on a snake, or lying awake all night under the stars while getting eaten alive by Mississippi's state bird (Mosquito) are things that I avoid with every ounce of my soul. I mean, my gosh. Girl Scouts are always doing things like cleaning up trash on the highways and getting stung by bees, singing "Kumbaya", hiking in the swelter, mucking around outside in the stinky, muddy, sweaty outdoors. However, there was a time that I, Auntie Jax braved the elements and did my time learning survival skills, earning patches and of course, selling those famous cookies we all know and love. Things have changed a lot over the years, I know, but once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout (if nothing else, by being traumatized by the experiences, or being thoroughly enriched by some of the strengths and habits we were instilled and left with).

My sweet, adoring and sometimes fanatical Mother, you see, was a Girl Scout Leader, eventually earning herself a lifetime membership. She was all things outdoors, loved the lifestyle, adored primitive camping and was in my honest opinion, the epitome of what a true Girl Scout should be. "You always leave things better than you found them." She delighted in passing these values and skills along to us, her daughters and grandchildren too. However, some of us were not quite as enthusiastic about it (mostly me, I think lol). But the principles and lessons learned in Girl Scouts, I admit are wonderful building blocks for us as young women. We could do with a lot more of that today. But alas, I wasn't that happy about it back then. I felt forced, but I appreciate now what my Mother was truly trying to do, ain't that the way it goes?

A word about the Girl Scout Motto: The Girl Scout motto is "Be prepared." In the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook, the motto was explained this way: "A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency." The same holds true today. We began our meetings, always, holding up the Sign with our hands, and reciting our 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.

(Read more about Girl Scout Laws, Promise and Traditions)

Day Camp, for me was a particularly dreaded nightmare. All the interaction with other troops and the chores, outdoorsy events and tasks we were charged with, all in the name of scoring those badges to go on our sash. These events were always in the dead heat of a Mississippi / Memphis summer, which you've heard me tell before is something akin to Malebolge.

One particular summer, we were attending our usual Day Camp at Arkabutla Lake. It was the usual uncomfortable 'fun' and fanfare, when we planned that Thursday to be an overnight camping stay. Needless to say, I was less than enthused about this. However, that evening rolled around, and our sleeping quarters were set-up, supplies in place. It was not just our troop, but girls from others as well. My niece Stacey (1 year younger than me as I always remind you guys because I was an Auntie at such a tender young age) was in attendance. Once the campfire songs were over and we had cleaned up after our dinner, everyone set out for bedtime. All was quiet until one of the girls from Tunica, Mississippi pulled a knife on another girl, and had to be dealt with. My Mom moved us out of the tent with the 'violent Tunica girls' as she referred to them, and Stacey and I ended up having to rough it outside on a picnic table. As the night drew on, the Mosquitoes descended upon the camp and Stacey and I were both prime targets.

My Mom, The Forever Girl Scout
I am struggling to remember if we had any "Off" or other spray. I know that my Mother also knew of the merits of Avon's "Skin So Soft" bath oil, that repels the little blood sucking varmints for some odd reason. However, we must not have had any at our disposal as they were literally trying to carry us away. It was a miserable night. One poor girl was covered in big 'whelps', even worse than me.

This ordeal got so bad, that my Mom pulled out these packs of industrial cleaning rags that she had packed away, and began to burn them in pans in an effort to smoke the hordes of mosquitoes out of camp. At one point the Park Rangers came over to see about us and thought we were performing some sort of weird rituals since they spotted the burning rags. Haha! Eventually, the night was over, and we had to power through the very last day of camp on virtually no sleep, little energy and wanting to go home and get back to the comfort of our central AC so badly we could taste it! (or was it the taste of smoke?)

Either way, I think that was one of the last times I remember going camping with our Troop. Mom somehow kept me in Girl Scouts up through Brownies (which is around middle school level). I never went further than that.

Though these experiences were harrowing while we were going through some of them, we really did have a lot of fun times too--I just rarely admit that since I am not much of an outdoorsy gal. There were many laughs, good friends, good food (like S'mores, I adore them to this day!) and of course those famed Cookie Sales. Girl Scouts really is a great thing for many women, and I hope it continues to be something meaningful for girls everywhere throughout the ages, just like it was for my beautiful forever Scout Mom. Hope you're up there in heaven Mom with your fire ring and roasting marshmallows, because I still miss that, and always will miss everything about you. What I wouldn't give to have a weenie roast out in the pasture with you right now.

Enjoy these shots of my Mom, a little later in her life, still playing with her fire ring, and reveling in her love of all things outdoors. Kumbaya Mama, Kumbaya anytime! xoxo

My Mom, while she and I were walking back to her "Fire Ring" she kept at home. 

Mom with one of her mighty
German Shepherds enjoying the day

A Scenic Spot off the highway near my home in
Northern Mississippi, Home of my Girl Scout Mother


2 comments:

Chelly said...

Jax, I commented on this post on "I Miss My Childhood" but just had to let you know how much I loved it! Your mama was so beautiful. What an amazing woman.

Thank you so much for what you wrote in the first paragraph, my friend. xoxo It's so true.

Love the title of this post too! :)

Aunt Jackie said...

Chelly I am so glad you enjoyed the story, I love sharing memories... I replied back over at I Miss My Childhood also, and that first paragraph, well it's true. I honor our Moms. We're made from them, so they're always with us in spirit and DNA =) I'm so glad for that.