A Letter to Liam

Dear Liam,

Tonight, on the eve of our first camping trip, I am remembering my days as a Girl Scout and feeling sad that you won’t get to make your own scouting memories.

I loved being a Girl Scout. Your grandma, my mom, was a Troop Leader. She was fun and fair and taught us loads. I worked to earn the patches on my sash, I sold the cookies door to door, and I went to camp.

I attended week-long summer day camp at Camp Heyata near Jainesville, Iowa. While I don’t now remember a lot of specifics about day camp — I even had to search the internet for the correct name — what I do remember is always looking forward to it, and always being sad when camp was over.

I also went to week-long sleep-away Girl Scout Camp at Camp Tahigwa near Decorah, Iowa for several summers. One year I slept in a tree house instead of a tent. Another year, I was in a spelunking camp, and we rappelled down mountains and explored caves. I made new friends, had caring counselors, and found a new level of independence.

I remember some of the daily rituals of camp, raising the flag and saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and then the Girl Scout Promise, the playing and singing of “Taps” at the end of the day while taking down the flag. These simple acts became ceremony; they were treasured, powerful. I am sorry you won’t get to take part in ceremonies such as these, won’t get to feel the power of being a part of something larger as a member of a scouting troop.

I didn’t remember the Girl Scout Law. I had to look it up, but I find that it was a solid foundation on which to build my character. In Girls Scouts, I was taught to care for the earth, to leave a place cleaner than when I found it. I was taught that I could do things, that I was capable. I was taught to accept others, to respect, but at times question, authority, and to have personal responsibility.

I learned practical skills in Girl Scouts: how to build a fire and open cans with a pocket knife, how to work with others and also do things I didn’t enjoy (like latrine duty), how to make my own sit-upon to keep my butt dry, and how to re-purpose an empty gallon milk jug to make a hand-washing station.

I loved being a Girl Scout, Liam, and you won’t get to be one, but your dad and I will do our best to help you become an honest, principled, compassionate, respectful young man who can read a map, put up a tent, identify dangerous plants and animals, and portage a canoe, among other things.

I love you, Liam.

Mommy

P.S. You will also not get to be a Boy Scout — your father and I cannot abide their exclusion of those in the LGBTQIA community, nor do we accept their religious requirement of a belief in God.

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