Eat a cookie -- tomorrow we're celebrating the 100th birthday of the Girl Scouts!
When my daughter Amelia was growing up, I was a Brownie leader. On Tuesday afternoons, I had a dozen little girls show up at our house to work on earning their badges.
When the girls were about eight, we decided to do a several-week project on cooking, culminating in each team of girls making an awesome mac-and-cheese. And the girls made other masterpieces: jello-with-canned-fruit, pancakes, biscuits, and barbecue sauce.
But the girls wanted one more session: they wanted to use knives -- real, honest-to-goodness sharp knives.
I really, really didn't want to arm twelve little girls with knives, particularly when a couple of the girls were fairly excitable. But I couldn't deny the girls' argument that the safe use of a knife was a basic cooking skill, and they all absolutely, positively promised to be responsible, calm and careful. So I agreed. The hardest part was borrowing extra paring knives from all the neighbors with the explanation that I wanted to give them to children.
The big day came, and we drilled on the basics: how to walk with a knife (at your side, never in front of you), how to hold a knife for cutting, and how to care for a cutting board. We successfully cut bananas with table knives, bread with serrated knives, and -- the pinnacle -- we cut celery, tomatoes, and green peppers with sharp paring knives, and best of all, without injury.
I don't know if these girls graduated to fancier knife work, but I do know that they learned friendship, leadership and fun. Even now, I sometimes think of the rules of knife use -- and I miss my Brownies.
Today, the Girl Scouts of the USA has more than 3.2 million members -- and more than 50 million women are Girl Scout alumnae. It has been at the forefront of our country's movement for diversity and tolerance, empowering girls of every racial and ethnic group, socioeconomic status, geography and background to make a difference in their communities.
In honor of their anniversary, the Girl Scouts are calling 2012 "The Year of the Girl," and I couldn't be more supportive. Happy birthday to my former troop and to all those in scouting!
P.S. In the great tradition of scouting, we're now on our third generation. Above is a picture of my granddaughter Octavia in her brownie uniform. Her scouting has included astronomy, ocean snorkeling, feeding giraffes, international studies, collecting cans for local shelters, multiple camping trips -- and yes -- selling cookies!