Our Founder said,
"Right is right, even if no one else does it." She had a strong ethic
about doing things right and I firmly adhere to that same philosophy. I believe
that we belong to a wonderful organization that has taken 101 years to evolve.
It has changed but it still retains a standard of performance. It has policies,
standards and guidelines to follow. As members, we
have a responsibility to adhere to those set by GSUSA and our councils. We do
not have the flexibility to simply change things because we do not agree.
Certainly there is flexibility in the delivery of program...there needs to be
because of geographic differences, individual abilities, economic base,
resources, etc. When it comes to the proper wear of the uniform, there is one
way, though...the right way.
I have recently been in a discussion with leaders
over altering the vest, sash or tunic to accommodate fun patches and other
insignia that have become too numerous to fit on the uniform items mentioned. I
have heard everything from adding a second flap to the back of the vest or
tunic, sewing two sashes together, sewing ribbons to the top of the vest and
stapling patches to them so they dangle, adding a sash to the bottom of a vest
to lengthen it, criss-crossing two sashes, wearing a sash over a vest,
fish-scaling patches so they overlap, gluing patches to the inside of the vest
or the underside of the sash, etc.
First, I continue to be amazed over the
"devotion" of some adults to fun patches...giving out as many as
three or four for one event. Why can’t one be enough? The amount of troop money
being spent on them boggles my mind. The adults say the girls are thrilled with
the patches. Of course they are, especially the little ones...they are cute, colorful
and it makes their uniform bulge with "look what I have done"
messages. What are those messages really doing for the girls? They are telling
them covertly that they must always receive something for showing up and doing
something. That their presence there having fun, giving service, learning
something new is not enough. They must have a piece of material to commemorate
the moment in time. Will they ever want to "simply come" to something
in the future? I have had parents tell a troop leader that their daughters were
not going to come if there was not a patch...the idea was, apparently, the
activity was not important enough to attend...and you know that attitude rubs
off on the child. Girls ask their leaders, “What patch am I getting for this?”
That can create a “what’s in it for me mentality”...that everything ultimately
is about “me”...what am I getting for doing this? Sometimes girls should do
things simply because it’s fun, it’s helping others, and it’s discovering
something that will enrich their lives.
I know, I know, so many leaders will say the patch
is their memory piece...girls look back and remember the thing they did, it’s
their ”brag” vest, a walking scrapbook, they want to wear it ALL. There are
many other ways to collect memories besides wearing them. Put patches on a
jacket, sweatshirt, patch jacket, in a shadow box or scrapbook. I have seen
heavy heavy vest loaded down with patches...I feel sorry for the poor girl
wearing it. Again, our founder said it’s about quality not quantity.
So, if you must have buy myriad fun patches, at
least try to respect the uniform and instruct the girls on alternate ways of
displaying them besides altering the official Girl Scout uniform that is to be
worn only one way...properly...not how some person chooses to modify it.