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Tomboy Scouts

My daughter and her friends are breaking free from the constraints of the 18th century, refusing to comply with societal standards and forging ahead on behalf of women and girls the world over.

They are the Tomboy Scouts.

It all started when our girls demanded to join the Girl Scouts. OK. Under the direction of our tireless leader – I’ll call her … “Martha” – we acquired the documents, collected the fees, donned the uniforms and took the oath. We were ready to begin Life in the World of Scouting.



I don’t have the best memories of scouting. When I was in second grade, my mother enrolled me in Brownies in a fruitless attempt to get me to socialize with others. We learned how to sew aprons, balance books on our heads and curtsy – all useful things in 1970.

I remember one miserable afternoon spent in the freezing basement of a church, where we were getting ready for a play. That was my first encounter with grease pencils, eye shadow and lipstick. I will never forget my friend Patty’s mother telling me how much it hurts to be pretty as she smudged makeup on my face. The experience scarred me for life.



I was the sun in this little performance. My job was to flit across the stage with my star-wand and gently tap each girl on the head. The other girls were flowers, and with the tap of my star-wand, they would gradually unfold and come to life. To this day, I have no idea what message this play was trying to get out. All I remember is missing one girl and having to flit back on stage to whack her on the head with my star-wand.

My brothers, on the other hand, were in the canyons learning how to light campfires with pieces of rock. Of course, not all of this was under the direction of their Boy Scout leader, but that’s irrelevant. The statute of limitations is long over.

In the “formal” arena of the Boy Scouts, they held competitions to see who could make the most viable raft – out of tree branches and twine. They learned how to scuba dive and went to foreign countries.

Girl Scouting today has changed, Martha said. It’s fun; you can modify it the way you want – we don’t have to learn perfect posture or how to cook the perfect upside-down cake.

The Boy Scouts, Martha said, were doing something different – so different that their meetings attract people who aren’t parents and who have never been involved in Scouting. Some are the wrong gender. It’s like a club for men who never grew up.

There’s a method in their madness. Boy Scouts earn badges and medals as they make their way up the Scouting ladder. At the end, if they persevere, they are promoted to Eagle Scout, the highest award available. This is an honor that serves boys well on college applications, job resumes, organ donor cards and bridal questionnaires.

The Girl Scouts? They can reach as far as a Gold Star.

Never heard of it? Me, either. I don’t know anyone who credited their Gold Star with their success in the boardroom.

That’s why we’re the Tomboy Scouts.

A friend of mine suggested the Tomboy Scouts learn how to build a lean-to – with a nice window dressing. Not … quite what we had in mind.

We will camp and hike and fish and climb. We will spend nights in the ski patrol huts and learn about avalanche dogs and first aid. We will study the stars and learn how to snowmobile. We will go rock-climbing, take flying lessons, take trips in hot-air balloons. We will learn how to light campfires with our glasses. We will build treehouses, make bird houses and go to Elitch’s and Moab and sea kayak off Greenland.

Our daughters’ rewards will be scuffed knees and stubbed toes – or worse.

We will be just like the Boy Scouts – only better.

They sell popcorn. We have Thin Mints.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com. Her column appears on Wednesdays. Sometimes, she remembers too much.


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