Girl Scouts make memories through the Generations

Three generations of Girl Scouts. Left to right: Kim Shenold, her daughter, Iris, and Kim’s mother, Janet Fultz.

Story by Ashley Nance

“Make new friends, But keep the old . . .”

There is probably not a single Girl Scout who doesn’t remember this song from their Girl Scout experience.  It has been sung by our Stillwater Girl Scouts since at least the 1960s and continues to be sung now in 2020. 

A song is not the only connection between Girl Scouts in the 1960s and Girl Scouts today. Three generations of Stillwater Girl Scouts got together recently and spoke of the many similarities and differences in their Girl Scout experiences. Not only were there three generations, but the three generations were all in the same Stillwater family. Janet Fultz was a Brownie and Junior Girl Scout at Will Rogers Elementary School in the 60s. Her daughter, Kim was a Girl Scout at Richmond Elementary School in the 90s. Kim’s daughter, Iris, is currently a fifth grade Girl Scout in Troop 7069 at Will Rogers Elementary School, and Kim is a co-leader of Troop 7069, along with Loretta Goodner. Today, Girl Scouts focuses on four program pillars, STEM, Life Skills, Outdoors, and Entrepreneurship. 

Three generations of Girl Scouts. Left to right: Kim Shenold, her daughter, Iris, and Kim’s mother, Janet Fultz.

Camping is an activity spanning the three generations but has also changed over the years.  Janet remembers going to day camp and overnight campouts at Camp Sylvia Stapley located west of Stillwater. They slept in canvas tents and had to buddy up to walk to the latrines with flashlights after dark.  She also went to a week-long camp at Lake Murray, where her sister Nancy was on the waterfront staff. Janet remembers being horribly homesick and crying every time she saw her sister. Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma continues to offer day camp at Sylvia Stapley.

Kim also went to day camp and overnight campouts at Sylvia Stapley, but she attended resident camp at Camp Tallchief located outside of Tulsa.  She recalls sleeping in plain cabins with big wooden shutters that swung down to cover the screened windows. The latrines were located nearby. 

Girl Scouts has seen huge growth over the years, and so while Iris does attend Sylvia Stapley like her mother and grandmother did, she also has other Girl Scout camping opportunities. For example, she has attended a resident camp at Camp Tallchief with her troop, sleeping in a new air-conditioned cabin with indoor restrooms. She also went to Camp Wah-Shah-She located near Bartlesville, where she had the unique experience of sleeping in a covered wagon. 

Girl Scout Troop 7069 pictured with Mayor Will Joyce at a Stillwater City Council meeting.

Entrepreneurship is one of the four program pillars of the Girl Scout curriculum. In the 1960s, Janet recalls going door to door selling Girl Scout calendars instead of cookies, both wall calendars and pocket calendars with pictures of various Girl Scout activities. Kim’s generation also sold the calendars, but by this time, the cookies were becoming a unique program teaching girls skills such as goal-setting, decision-making, money management, business ethics, and people skills. Now, Iris and her generation sell cookies exclusively—no calendars. There is also a Girl Scout Fall Product Program that consists of nuts and candy, but that is more of a “friends and family” event.  Marketing for cookie sales is different now, with some Girl Scout troops setting up booths at various businesses in town, and no Girl Scouts are allowed to go door-to-door without an adult accompanying them. And, just for the record, whether it is generational or not, Janet, Kim, and Iris all have different choices for their favorite cookie—for Janet, it is Thin Mints, Kim prefers Samoas, and Iris loves the Tagalongs!

Iris stands with her Girl Scout Cookie sales display.

As times have changed, so have Girl Scout meetings and Troop Leaders.  When Janet and Kim were Girl Scouts, meetings were usually held right after school at the school site.  With after-school meetings in the middle or late afternoon, the Troop Leaders were mothers who did not work outside of the home. Janet remembers Judy Hutchison as her Brownie Troop Leader and Caryl Jobe as her Junior Troop Leader. Kim recalls Connie Inglish and Elizabeth Lohrman working with her troop. For Iris and her Girl Scout Troop, meetings are held in the evening because Troop Leaders are volunteers working outside of the home. Troop 7069 meets every other week in the evening at the Lodge, formerly called the Girl Scout Lodge. Kim said that someone asked her as a leader if she worked outside of the home, and Kim remembers thinking, “Who doesn’t?!” In addition, there are many certifications and training available for current volunteers which were not required in the ‘60s and ‘90s, such as Level I and II Canoe Training, Camper Training, and more.  The safety of the girls and of the leaders is paramount.

Uniforms, badges and patches, outdoor cooking, service projects, and other activities have evolved in Girl Scouts, but one thing that has never changed from generation to generation is the friendships that are cultivated.  It is fun and memorable to make new friends while doing Girl Scout activities with current friends. As every Girl Scout knows about new friends and old friends, “. . . One is silver, And the other—gold.”

About Girls Scouts

 Currently in Payne County, there are 26 Girl Scout troops serving more than 250 girls and more than 100 volunteers.  For information about membership, please visit www.gseok.org or reach out to Cassie Janssen at cjanssen@gseok.org.

*Strong Girls Strong Women

Strong Girls Strong Women is hosting a special event benefiting Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma to support Girl Scouts in Payne County. Girl Scout programs provide a one-of-a-kind foundation in STEM, a wide variety of outdoor adventures, along with setting girls up with the skills that they need to succeed in life and entrepreneurship skills to build courage and confidence to take on the world.  Girl Scouts provides a nurturing and safe environment where girls can positively explore and grow as young women and practice a lifetime of leadership. 

Strong Girls Strong Women will host this event on Sunday, May 17, at 2:00 PM at the Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University. Ann Halligan is serving as the Honorary Chair.  All the funds raised during this event stay in Payne County to support Girl Scouts. For ticket and sponsorship information please visit www.gseok.org/strong or contact Cassie Janssen at (918) 745-5201or Carolynn MacAllister at camac17@gmail.com

*Editor’s Note:  The Strong Girls Strong Women event previously planned for May 17th has been cancelled.

Shortly before uploading this issue to the printer, many local businesses and organizations had begun announcing cancellations for events and activities due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. At the time of printing, we had not received notice that the Strong Girls Strong Women event benefiting Girl Scouts would be postponed or cancelled but we were aware that given the rapidly changing situation this could change. We chose to run the original story as submitted in an effort to highlight this organization and their efforts. Please be sure to check our website at StillwaterLiving.com for updates when we receive them.