Mom’s Voice: Troop 701, Alive and Well

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The second generation of former members of Newport Beach Brownie Troop 701, formed in 1977.   — Photo by Jill Fales
The second generation of former members of Newport Beach Brownie Troop 701, formed in 1977.
— Photo by Jill Fales

Standing in a circle, hands clasped and arms swaying back and forth, we finished singing “Taps” in the Mackenzie living room.

Mrs. Mackenzie, our leader, closed another meeting for brownie troop 701. It was 1980. The year I convinced everyone it was a good idea to make tuna noodle casserole for our cooking badge. The year of the ridiculous camping trip that would cause us to burst into laughter even 30 years later at just the mention of it.

That fateful trip where, on the way to the campsite, Christy got car sick and threw up carrots out of the window of Mrs. Cobb’s wood paneled station wagon. We’ll never forget when Shelly smuggled her AM transistor radio into our tent and we got busted for belting out Devo’s “Whip It” after lights-out. And the winds!  The trip was cut short as gale force gusts kicked up in the morning, causing our cheap JC Penny tents to contort severely. The yellow one collapsed with Mara in it.


Troop 701 was a corner stone of my childhood, and the lyrics to the old Girl Scout favorite, “Make new friends, but keep the old ones, one is silver and the other’s gold” has proved to be prophetic.

In 2013, I am still close to five of my Devo-singing golden girls. A lot has changed. We are grown-ups now and have many responsibilities with parenthood and work. No one gives us a badge for cooking dinner. No one pays us for the cookies we make. We don’t wear brown vests and brown knee highs. We have to lead ourselves.

These are the women whose friendships sustain me, normalize, support, and nurture me. We have each faced some trying times, but when together, no matter what life stresses bog us down,   we are quick to find our giggly selves of decades ago.

Vicky, the most giggly of all of us, has just created a dedicated space in her garage as a “craft room.” Last week we all got together to make mason jar candle holders with sand, sea shells, sea stars, twine. Our kids were in the house playing while we joked, created, and hot glue gunned. Shelly didn’t have her little radio, but she set up her iPhone with a little Duran Duran music in the background.

“This is like an adult brownie troop,” I mused. The highest compliment I could voice.

Yesterday I had the troop over with the kids. Two mini vans and an SUV lined our street. The essence of wood paneling clinging to the air. The kids swam, ate, and pet the guinea pig. They stayed until the day was done and the sun was gone. “Taps” hummed through my head.

It is no small wonder that I have never said no to a Girl Scout selling cookies.

Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of “My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood.” Visit her at

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