That Time I Was Voted out of Girl Scouts
Every year during cookie season, I look at the smiling girls on the Caramel deLites box and think abut how they are not representative of all Girl Scouts. Or at the very least, the smiles are not representative of my youth—if my Girl Scout troop had been the Seven Dwarfs, I surely would have been Grumpy.
I joined the Girl Scouts of America with a very false set of expectations. Inspired by an older brother who was learning how to make fire from rocks at Boy Scout camp, I was more than a little disappointed when my troop meetings involved gluing macaroni to construction paper. When were we going to practice all the necessary life skills for young upstate New Yorkers, like escaping from bears in the wilderness? Pictures of Girl Scout camp seemed to depict girls doing arts and crafts in cabins that looked like they had indoor plumbing.
I was a bit of an overcommitted child—my poor mother had to schlep me from piano to softball and then ballet and troop meetings—so I only earned two badges during my short reign as a Junior Girl Scout. One was a Girl Scout Goes to the Movies badge from when I saw “Stuart Little” with my troop mates. The other badge was from an occasion where I spent a night roller-skating and then sleeping on the gym floor of our local YMCA for a slumber party. What lessons are to be learned from either of those activities? If you guessed “none,” you are correct—no lessons learned other than the fact that the floor of the YMCA is uncomfortable, should I ever need to spend the night there while homeless.
Cookie sales are the core of being a Girl Scout and I managed to fail spectacularly at this as well. My immigrant parents considered selling anything to their friends to be the height of dishonor, even though most of the girls in my troop enlisted their parents in helping them with their cookie sales. As I was also forbidden from talking to strangers, door-to-door sales were out of the question. This left me with the option of asking my family to buy cookies, but that plan did not work out either—citing “childhood obesity” as a major concern, my parents only bought two boxes.
Perceived lack of commitment aside, I ran into new social dilemmas as a Girl Scout. My school district had undergone redistricting right before I joined troop 91, dividing the middle schoolers between five schools instead of four. I was put into a new school while everyone else in my troop had remained at my old school, meaning that whenever girls discussed their classes during meetings, I could not really participate. Instead, I was just the weird mute ethnic girl in the corner.
I guess it should have been no surprise when my Girl Scout troop decided to vote me out to make room for new girls the following year. It was, after all, the year 2000; Survivor had just premiered, so the concept of “voting off the island” was especially popular. And while my troop leader’s suggestion that I join the troop that had more students from my new school made sense, it doesn’t mean that getting booted out of my Girl Scout troop didn’t hurt a little.
I swore off Girl Scouts for a while, but those cookies keep pulling me back. Every year in college I found myself lining up outside the Girl Scout cookie booth (a much better strategy than what I used, by the way) on campus. Now that I’ve graduated, the cookies are a bit harder to find, but luckily the ever-enterprising Girl Scouts of America have made a Cookie Finder app. Now Caramel deLite and Thin Mint enthusiasts like myself can rejoice—and then dwell on a childhood slight.