Picture this: 100 girls ranging from ages 14-18 from all over the United States, all Girl Scouts (GS), one adult supervisor per ten girls, staying in the dorms at the State University of New York Utica. Fourteen years old, and I was the only Minnesotan. By the end of those two weeks in July of 1994, I made sure everyone knew where I was from and that they had a place to stay if they were ever visiting.
A girl scout from the age of 7, I had finally reached the age, 14, where I could participate in Wider Opportunity also known as Wider Ops. Early in the calendar year, the GS national office would release the catalog for various camp programs around the country. While my mom wasn’t so stoked to send me around the country by myself, I was pretty convincing (“Katie Rose is applying. Why can’t I?”). The program I chose was Drums Along the Mohawk. She trusted me and knew that I was in good hands with the Girl Scouts.
I had been going to overnight summer camp with my other troop members for four years at this point and it was time for me to try something on a much bigger scale. It was a cultural adventure in upstate New York, specifically the Mohawk River Valley. I don’t recall the other programs I applied to but this was my first pick. Why? Was it all the exposure and educational learning of upstate New York? The great extracurricular activity for a college application (yes, I was that kid at 14)? The visit to the Griffiss Air Force Base? Corrin’s big solo New York adventure? Nope.
The sole reason I chose that program: we were going to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
A trip to Cooperstown was HUGE in my book. Coming off of two World Series celebrations for the Twins (1987 and 1991 – ahem Vikings, your turn), I was a baseball girl through and through. I held on to those World Series championships (still holding on Twins – hint, hint) as if I was standing at the glass (stupid Metrodome) watching the game in left field. This was a MECCA trip for me.
The next best thing to a Twins jersey. My Girl Scout uniform.
Another component was the movie A League of Their Own had been released a few years earlier. It brought together women fighting in a man’s world.. It was like I was in a dream. All of us were proud young women, grateful for those that came before us. We were part of an organization that celebrated women and gave us opportunities to explore and be independent to this day. I am ecstatic when someone gives me that Girl Scout cookie sell sheet. I love being about to support an organization that helped me become the woman I am today. And I have an unnatural addiction to Thin Mints. It really is OK to eat an entire sleeve of those little buggers in one sitting.
Back to the Baseball Hall of Fame, I remember seeing the Women in Baseball exhibit but also snapping pictures of anything Minnesota Twins. There was a short movie about great moments in baseball where I cheered every time a Minnesota player showed up on the screen. Yes, I was a distraction. I was flying solo for much of the tour because my fellow Girl Scouts were more focused on the boys they could meet than checking out the history of baseball.
We ended our indoor tour and headed out around the block to Doubleday Field. There was a little league game going on so we sat down to watch. Lo and behold the catcher for one of the teams was a girl. This poor child just acquired a major cheering section. Not only was it great to see her on the field with the boys, she was directing them behind the plate. Hopefully those cheers and support encouraged her to stay in sports throughout her life.
I miss the Girl Scout days. I stayed on until I was 16 but had to quit because of sports and other school activities (band, National Honors society, Student Council, you name it.). Plus, I was playing softball seven months out of the year --yes, you can play outdoors in MN without freezing to death--- and other months were consumed with volleyball and basketball. I still try to volunteer with the Girl Scouts, but being an adult and supporting myself tends to get in the way.
Corrin Cafferty, an ex Girl Scout and current roller derby All-Star in Chicago, is also a lover of food, gnomes, rainbows, baseball, sky diving and most things Minnesota.