Courage, Confidence & Character…80’s Style!

Anyone who knows me, knows how nostalgic I am about my three years as a Girl Scout.  I was a Junior from 1980-1983, back when 4th, 5th and 6th graders were Juniors and Daisies hadn’t been created yet.

In 1982, my troop took a weekend trip to Skyland Ranch near Banning, California. Sitting in the lodge one night at Skyland, eating chocolate pudding out of ice cream cones, the leaders gave us an activity:  design a badge for the upcoming skate party.  This was a big deal!  Not only was the party going to be held at Skate Depot, our beloved local skating rink, but it was a contest!  I loved to draw and I loved contests.

The Lodge at Skyland Ranch

With great zeal, I got to work.  My original badge design looked something like this:

Notice the trefoil.  I didn’t know it at the time but council’s could not use the trefoil on council’s own patches.  The rest of the weekend we did crafts, sang songs and hiked up to the top of Timber Peak (below) where we signed our names in a book that was in a box at the peak.

Weeks, maybe even months later, the night of the Tagoma Skating Party was upon us. Arriving at Skate Depot, I began to notice posters hung up with a drawing of a badge and the caption “Winner! Jennifer Lane.” Looking at the poster, I found myself thinking it was odd that someone else with my name had won. Since the patch didn’t look exactly like mine, and at the time I couldn’t really remember exactly what I had drawn, I dismissed the idea that I was the winner.

It wasn’t too long before my troop friends, leaders and parents wondered why I wasn’t reacting to the news.  It WAS me!  I had won.  My leaders told me my patch was chosen because of its unique shape.  It was a shape that hadn’t been used before.  Below is the actual patch:

Minus the trefoil 🙂

To say that night had a great impact on me would be an understatement.  It was a night where I felt important, talented and proud.  Winning also had a lasting impact on my confidence in my creative abilities. Moments like this, true moments of pride in oneself, is so important for girls–moments not based on physical appearance, material possessions or popularity.

My three years in Girl Scouts coincided with years of extreme financial hardship in my family.  My dad had lost his job due to health issues and we were on the verge of losing our home.  My mother worked two jobs: a day job processing credit applications for dairy farms and a night job at Hallmark.  My older sister also worked at Hallmark and contributed her earnings to our family.  My little sister, who is six years younger than me, was born with lung problems and was very susceptible to pneumonia in her first five years of life.  When our house’s heater caught on fire in the winter of 1981, my parents were unable to have it repaired. The cold house exacerbated my sister’s lung issues and contributed to her chronic pneumonia. Ultimately we lost our home in 1983.

Winning the contest didn’t “fix” my life, or take away my worries.  But it meant so much to the insecure, scared little girl in hand-me-down clothes. The same little girl who worried about her family and her home was just trying to be a normal 9, 10 and 11 year old. That night, skating around with my hands in my pockets and a smile on my face, all of my problems fell away. It was a brief reprieve but an important one. At the 1982 Tagoma Skating Party, I was a Girl Scout first and foremost.  But more than that, I was a Girl Scout with courage, confidence and character.

Other 80’s Nostalgia!

If you were a Girl Scout in the 1980’s, you probably remember that we had red hoodies that held our participation patches. Remember when Girl Scouts sold calendars? Official insignia was placed on the sash as it is today.  There weren’t vests back then.  I have a hoodie now that I use for my leader patches.  I get so many compliments when I wear it. #gspride

My vintage red hoodie


Thank you for listening to my stories!

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