Badges of Shame

This being the Girl Scouts’ Centennial Year, my conscience needs to be cleared: full confession–I’m a former Jr Girl Scout with a less than honorable past.

Wind back to the late 1970s. My dearest madre and a couple of neighborhood moms volunteered to lead a Brownie Troop for my elementary school. Troop 2016, as I recall—I had a badge, so I should remember. At any rate, it was great! Each Wednesday afternoon, we met in the basement of a local Episcopal church wearing our Brownie Scout uniforms (and matching beanies) mastering everything from hosting Mother-Daughter teas to learning how to build campfires. Those were the days when selling cookies meant going door to door and bravely canvassing our neighbors for sales (unlike the lame marketing approaches—and no teaching moments–of today where parents circulate sign up sheets amongst their hapless workplace colleagues).

But the best part about all of these activities—no, not the friendships formed or the skills acquired—was the badges. I did well in Brownie Scouts. I thrived, eagerly awaiting the day I would graduate to being a Jr Girl Scout—new uniforms, new challenges. Alas, news of the troop leaders’ prowess and willingness to look after Other People’s Children resulted in our Jr Scout troop membership expanding beyond that of the Brownies. So it was when I met…Amanda.

Amanda was a year older than I, but I don’t recall much else about her–where she came from, who she knew, what she did. But I do remember this: Amanda had badges. Amanda had so many badges that they filled up the front of her sash and extended a long ways on the back. I know this because I counted them, enviously. Everything about Amanda’s badges consumed me. How did she get so many? Why was she so great? And, most importantly, how could I surpass her?

Refusing to be bested by Miss Amanda, I conceived of and then executed a masterful plan of world domination—month by measured month, I forged my mother’s signature on every (desirable) badge requirement and then presented the completed forms to other, innocent troop leaders for approval. I collected the Babysitting badge, the Savings badge, the Correspondence Badge and its twin the Cursive badge (how else do you think I managed to execute my plan so well?). I was awarded Hospitality, First Aid, and Nature. The list goes on and on. In total, I probably gained over two dozen badges—more than Amanda could dream of earning. I did. It’s true. At the ripe old age of 9, I had morphed into a master forger.

Is there a happy ending to this tale of despicable duplicity? Was I ever caught out? No, no I wasn’t. However, you will be pleased to know that while I coveted my badges with a relish only a 9 year old can possess, I never had the nerve to sew them on my sash. At least there’s that. That, and choosing to forgo a career on Wall Street.

Some 35 years later, I have finally found a way to soothe my troubled conscience:

Check it out…


2 Responses to “Badges of Shame”

  1. helenga Says:

    If I didn’t know better I’d think you started Demeritwear! What a great idea!! Btw, I only had four merit badges…I was pretty lazy. 🙂

  2. abitravel Says:

    Maybe you could return the badges to the Girl Scouts and gain some publicity from it – “Brownie comes clean, 40 years later.” You could then win a (newly created) badge of honesty, have an article written about you, and launch yourself into a new career – in blogging, Girl Scout Leadership, or honesty therapy… choices are endless.

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