Written by Dianne Neuman Whittington
Girl Scout Troop 44 began as Brownies in the second grade at Sam Houston. Troops were formed at most of the Elementary Schools in the second grade. Our Brownie leader was Rozi Gillham’s mother and my mother was the co-leader. As Brownies we did things with other Brownie Troops and learned the Brownie Songs and Promise. We went to Brownie Camp at Camp Miter Peak . The members were :
Susie Moore, Vicki Dill, Rozi Gillham, Mary Houston, Peggy Berg, and me.
I think that in 4th grade we Bridged into Girl Scouts and began to earn badges. My mother and Peggy Berg’s mother were now the leaders. By 1958 we had 8 members as Rosemary Curry and Kathy Westbrook joined our troop. We continued attending Girl Scout Camp at Mitre Peak as a troop and also individually for weeklong camps.
We studied, worked, and earned badges that we would sew on a sash. We were part of the Candy Striper Program at the hospital, helped at a Cerebral Palsy Center, learned wood working, knife safety, camping, campfire cooking, hiking, studied birds, Life Saving, swimming, American Flag etiquette, and more. We learned camping songs and how to sing in rounds.
In 5th grade we were learning about Mexico and found that there was a place in Mexico where GS Troops from all over the world could stay and spend time learning about each other. It was called “Nuestra Cabana”. In 6th grade all of us signed a pledge that we would stay in Girl Scouts until the end of the 9th grade and earn enough money to go to the Cabana in August of 1960. It would take 3 years of preparation to be able to qualify for the Mexico Trip. The deposit of $20 for 10 guests was sent to the Cabana and guaranteed us rooms for 5 days.
Little did we know that wearing our uniform in 5th and 6th grade was cool but Jr. High was a big difference. Thank goodness our leaders said that we would not have to wear uniforms to school. Rozi reminded me that San Jacinto asked for 2 scouts from our troop to raise and lower the flag . Uniforms were required. We were mortified and drew straws. Rozi was one that got a short straw and we cannot remember who got the other one. I have blocked it out if it was me!
In 1959 we had completed a Pioneer Badge but had to put up tents and live in them as one of our requirements to go to Mexico. I never figured out why that was a requirement -we never spent the night in tents in Mexico. Camp Mary White in the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico had a program for that so off we went. The camp assigned each of us a mule that we had to pack for 5 days in the mountains. Of course it started to rain that morning, the mules did NOT want to go, and we had to push them up the mountain-which could have been Mt. Everest since we lived in Midland with no hills, much less mountains. It took most of the day to get to a clearing in time to set up tents for the night. Did I mention that it was still raining? We had practiced putting up the tents before we left but after pushing an animal up a mountain in the rain, I could not remember my name much less how to put the tent up. Two were assigned to each tent but it took all of us to put up each tent. We looked and felt like we had drowned. The two counselors with us probably had to turn their backs to keep from laughing.
We made it through the night and the rain was gone in the morning. That’s when we realized no one had packed the shovels! We had several things we had to dig with spoons and sticks. It sounds like a disaster in the making but as we practiced what we had learned in a beautiful setting, we had a greater respect for the Real Pioneers that came before us. I celebrated that I was born in a different time! After five days, I could not have lasted one more day and I never went camping again. Luckily, I married Glenn who thought camping was staying in a hotel that did not have TV. I am not sure we have even done that.
We did make the trip to Mexico and I will write about that later. Thank goodness for my mother’s scrapbook that documented this incredible
Great story Dianne. I enjoyed Glenn’s version of camping! Your group stayed together for a long time and seemed like it was a really worthwhile experience. Stay safe, Bob Ittner