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Make New Friends

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Did I ask? Is that why my parents enrolled me in Girl Scouts?
Or was that part of the plan all along?
After all, MomGiraffe was one.
I no longer remember the impetus.

I do know that I loved being a Girl Scout.

It was an outrageously Jewish experience.
Not because we did anything Jewish. In fact, there was nothing Jewish about the entire endeavour. My Brownie troop leader, whose surname was nearly impossible to say without dissolving into a fit of giggles, was most definitely not Jewish. I was one of two Jewish girls in the troop and the only one who was observant. What made the experience Jewish was that it was necessary for me to assert my Jewish identity. Whether making certain that outings weren’t planned on a Jewish holiday or helping plan the meals for a camping trip so that there were kosher options.

Speaking of camping, my family doesn’t do camping. Call it rebellion after those forty l-o-n-g years in the Wilderness or perhaps an aversion to communing with nature or whatever. But camping was not part of our family culture. Enter Girl Scouts. Girl Scouting introduced me to the basics of camping. I can’t say that I liked it enough to want to do it with any regularity. What I can say is that it was an experience that I very well may have never had. And that would be a shame.

Were there compromises to be made? Absolutely. The annual Father-Daughter dance always presented a problem as DadGiraffe was never available…because it was held on a Friday night. So after Shabbat dinner, one of my uncles accompanied me as my substitute father. Strangely, though, I didn’t feel as though the experience was diminished in any way. I thought it was so cool that my uncles took time to take me. And I have fond memories of those dances.

[Note: My Junior troop was completely different. Half the troop was Jewish. (So you shouldn't get excited, there were a total of six girls in the troop.) And our troop leader was Jewish.]

I learned a lot of things during my time in Girl Scouts. How to manage friendships in a small group. How to cook over a camp fire. How to be Jewish when no one else is (or is Jewish in the same way). And much, much more.

Not every activity in which our children engage needs to be inherently Jewish. When we infuse our kids lives with Judaism, we are fashioning them to bring their own Judaism to all that they do.

Which makes the experience…Jewish.

*******************
For those wishing to incorporate Judaism into the Girl Scout experience in a more formal way, see what the National Jewish Committee on Girl Scouting has to offer.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Wednesday, 9 May 2012 11:43 am

    I was a Girl Scout too – and loved it – and my parents who had both been scouts hated camping! Maybe years of scouting had exhausted their tolerance for the wilderness.

  2. Sunday, 13 May 2012 10:47 pm

    “Make new friends, but keep the old . . . one is silver and the other gold!” I’ll never forget that little ditty. I too, was a Jewish scout. My mother, in fact, was our Brownie Scout Leader, which made the experience even more meaningful, because it gave us all that much more additional time together. I was thinking about my mother a lot today! She died at the ripe old age of 91, quite ready to go (in a nursing home, she’d tell me that every day she’d wake up and say “Damn! I’m still here!”), because she had lived a rich and long life. Much of my own writing reflects memory of my childhood. Thanks for the instant replay that your allusion to being a Girl Scout caused to rush me unannounced! Nice!

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