This is me and my friend Joanna. We met when we were nine years old and have been friends ever since-that’s over 30 years now. A big part of our childhood and teen years was Girl Scouting. We had so many adventures together with our troop and those are the kinds of memories and bonds that just last forever. Now we are adults with our own daughters, and Joanna is a troop leader herself. 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting in America (“in 19-1,2, Juliette Low sailed the ocean blue”) and Girl Scouts of America has been doing lots all year, the big event being “Rock the Mall”-a gathering of Girl Scouts from across the country on the Mall of Washington, D.C. for a mega-singalong. Joanna and I knew we had to be a part of it. Even though Joanna’s troop is so close to D.C. (they live in Virginia) they opted not to participate (once in a lifetime! come on!), so it was just Joanna and her two girls and me and Tabby who would be going to it.
First I have to tell you about the amazing gift Joanna gave me when we arrived. It was a photo book made at Shutterfly that was the story of our friendship and had pictures of us from the past thirty years-8th grade, high school, and college graduations, pictures of us holding each other’s babies, pictures of us on trips with each other’s families, pictures of us on Girl Scout camping trips,sleepovers, and so on. It was the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me and I know a ton of work must have gone into sorting through all those old pictures and putting them together. Thank you, Jo!
Saturday morning we got up and all put on our Rock the Mall t-shirts and then we headed into D.C. Immediately after our parking we came across a troop from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They were super friendly and we made our first “swap.”
Swaps are little tokens you make on pins and you trade them with other girls you meet. The Cape Cod ones were great-made from seashells and little wooden crabs. Lots of them have the girls’ troop and state on them. Joanna had made a whole bunch for us ahead of time.
The friendliness and camaraderie with these girls was not an isolated incident-the whole day everyone we met was friendly, excited, happy to be there. People just went up to each other and said hi, where are you from? do you want to swap? And it was very inspiring to see the thousands of people and know that Girl Scouting had brought us all together. It was cool to see how different troops had personalized the official shirts, too. Tie-dyed, dyed, embellished, ripped, beaded-people put their mark on them. Lots of people also had dozens of swaps on crazy hats.
Although there were literally hundreds of thousands of people there it was not intense crowds-wise at all. The event was happening around the Washington Monument and there was a stage and then jumbo trons. I think it was packed down by the stage, but it was easy to just be at the edge of a crowd, by yourself, or in a group. The sidewalks were crowded-Girl Scouts were everywhere, but there really was plenty of room on the Mall and I did not feel closed in or uncomfortable. In fact, when we first sat down we were just kind of an island in the grass and we eventually moved so as to feel more part of it.
Different people performed on the stage and led the songs. If I have any disappointment about the event it’s that I didn’t feel very sing-a-longy. I think if we were down by the stage perhaps we would have sung along more, and I had been looking forward to singing Make New Friends, but we still had a good time talking to people, sang one or two songs, and just taking it all in. It was a hot day, but there was a breeze and it was really fine. At the end there was a fire engine spraying the road and everyone frolicked in the mist and cooled off.
This was a once in a lifetime event and I’m so happy that we were a part of it. It was so special to share it with my dear friend and think about when we were kids and the friends in our troop and the things we did, and to now be adults sharing this moment with our own daughters.
Thank you Girl Scouts for all you do for girls and thanks for the memories!