The informant, Katie, is a childhood friend of the interviewer. They grew up next door to each other and have been friends for sixteen years. They both went to girl scout camp every year from kindergarten to fifth grade.
Katie discusses the sharing of girl scout pins at camp and the meaning behind it.
“Every year we went to this girl scout camp, retreat thing. This particular year that I’m talking about it was held at White Pines ranch. Girl scout troops from all over Illinois came to this. Every year we do this pin exchange thing where we basically create our own pins and we create like a ton of them and then exchange them with other girls at the camp. Every troop creates a different kind of pin and they always have some story or meaning behind them. So our troop this particular year created s’more pins. So we took little pieces of tan felt, serving as the graham cracker, and glued on little pieces of brown felt for the chocolate. We then attached a white pom poms as the marshmallow and added another piece of tan felt for the second graham cracker. Then we glued these on to safety pins. Every girl in our troop made like twenty. The meaning behind them was two fold. S’mores were a very important part of our troop. At every campout and get together we would always make s’mores and sing songs and tell stories. The s’mores also represented our troop because many different kinds of girls could come together and make something incredible, our troop, just like how all these different kinds of ingredients came together to make something incredible, s’mores. Kind of cliche, I know, but we were like eight so… Anyway, the first night of the camp all the girls from all sorts of troops all over Illinois would come to the fire and we were each given a blank hat. Then you were asked to trade pins with all the other girls and put them on your hat. By the end of the night, you’d have this really cool decorated hat with all kinds of pins. I think I may still have my hat somewhere in my mom’s attic. It was a really fun activity because you got to meet with all sorts of other girls and talk to them and explain the meaning behind your pin and listen to them explain the meaning behind their pins.”
As someone who also participated in this activity, I thought it was very fun as a kid and still enjoy looking back on it. It is an interesting thing to study from a folklore perspective because we were able to spread stories of our troop to other girl scout troops through the ritual of giving and receiving pins. After exchanging the pins, we would sit back down with our troop and talk about which pins we got and continue to trade even more for the really cool ones. By giving someone a gift you are showing that you appreciate them and they are doing the same to you by giving you one back. This is a great way to make friends. It also allows us to learn about other girl scout troops and the history of their troops.