Tag Archives: girl scout

Girl Scout Closing Circle

Main Piece:

What is the Girl Scout Closing Circle?

“At the end of the [girl scout] meeting, you stand with your hands crossed, you hold hands, you sing Taps once and them hum the tune until we’re done. Someone starts a squeeze, they squeeze the hand of the person next to them, and they stick their foot towards the center of the circle and make a wish. Then the next person’s hand gets squeezed and then they put their foot in and make a wish, and it goes all the way around the circle. And then you turn around and untwist your hands, and then the meeting’s over.” 


The informant is my mother. She was a Girl Scout during her childhood, and then she became a Girl Scout Troop Leader. This information was collected during a family zoom call where we were checking in with each other.


As a Girl Scout, I participated in the Girl Scout closing circle. It is a universal Girl Scout tradition, seeing as we would do it at the end of large Girl Scout events that included more than just our troop. The Closing Circle ends the meeting in a positive way. Holding hands unifies us as a Girl Scout community, and we through linking up we support each other and our wishes. The sticking out of the feet acts as a marker for how fast the process is moving, and is a visual signal to the troop leader for when to end the song. Taps is a traditional song that has been sung by Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and has its roots in US Army traditions. 

Girl Scout Pins


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. 

Duck Girl Song

[The subject is CB. Her words are bolded, mine are not.]

Context: CB is one of my friends, and a sophomore student in college. Both of her parents are lawyers in the military, so she was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, but has also lived in Germany, Kansas, and Oregon. The following is a song that she learned when she was nine or ten years old from an American Girl Scout camp in Germany called Camp Lachenwald, which translates to “laughing woods.”

I’m an old duck rover from out in Montana
Round up them duckies and drive ‘em along
To a flooded corral where we bulldog and brand ‘em
Mosey on home just a-singin’ this song

Singin’ quack quack yippee-yay
Quack quack yippee-yo
Get along, little duckies
Get along real slow
It’s dirty and smelly and really don’t pay
But I’ll be a duck girl ‘til the end of my days.

On Saturday nights, I ride into town
On my short-legged pony with my hat pulled way down
But the boys don’t like duck girls and I can’t figure out why
No cowgirl could be more romantic than I

Singin’ quack quack yippee-yay
And quack quack yippee-yo
Get along, little duckies
Get along real slow
It’s dirty and smelly and really don’t pay
But I’ll be a duck girl ‘til the end of my days.

Thoughts: This song was sung entirely in an exaggerated Southern accent, which I thought was interesting especially because CB learned it while she was in Germany, albeit from other Americans. One thing I noticed was that the song was specific to a gender, but it led me to realize that most of the children’s folk songs I knew growing up were generally sung by girls more often than boys, even when the songs didn’t specify whether the singer was supposed to be a boy or a girl. I also feel that ducks are a common motif in children’s songs and games, like duck-duck-goose and the Five Little Ducks song. Ducks seem to be a symbol that adults associate with children because pictures of them commonly appear on baby clothes, but I suppose children also associate ducks with themselves because the songs they sing and the games they play often involve them.

Camp Seven Hills Serial Killer


This piece is about a legendary serial killer that roams the woods near Camp Seven Hills in New York.

Main Piece:

“Informant: So I spent a lot of summers at a Girl Scout camp called Camp Seven Hills. And of course there were a lot of ghost stories around the fire, but every year they would tell a ghost story about a man who had wandered off from one of the neighbor farms, like right next to the camp, and wandered into the woods one night. Like a really creepy, scary, serial killer kind of man. And his favorite thing to do was to catch little girls, little Girl Scouts and kidnap and murder them. So the whole thing was never wander into the woods at night alone. They would tell this story every year.

Me: Where was this camp?

Informant: Camp Seven Hills in Western New York. I think it was to make sure we didn’t go off on our own, but it like totally freaked us all out every year.”


The subject is an adult woman who remembers her time as a child in the 1970s going to Girl Scout summer camp. She grew up in Buffalo New York and was an avid member of the Girl Scouts growing up. Camp Seven Hills is located in Erie County, New York and still functions as a Girl Scout camp today.


I wonder if this legend of this Camp Seven Hills serial killer still exists today or if it has vanished from the folklore of this camp. Since this comes from the childhood of an adult, it would be interesting to compare the stories told to the young girls at this camp today and see if they are similar or very different. I think the informant was correct about the meaning behind this legend, that it would prevent girls from wandering around the woods alone or at night. Stories like this are terrifying for young girls and since it was localized to a nearby farm as the origin, it would make it more believable as well.




One Tin Solid

Listen Children, to a story, that was written, long ago

About a kingdom, on a mountain, and the valley far below
on the mountain was a treasure, buried deep beneath the stone,

And the valley people swore they’d have if for their very own


Go ahead and hate your neighbor,

Go ahead and cheat a friend

Do it in the name of heaven,

You can justify it in the end

There wont be any trumpets blowing,

Come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after,

One tin soldier rides away

Then the people of the valley,

Sent a message up the hill

Asking for the buried treasure,

Tons of gold for which they’d kill

Came an answer from the mountain

With our brothers, we will share

All the secrets of our kingdom,

All the riches buried there


So the valley shook with anger,

(Mount your horses, draw your swords)

And they killed the mountain people,

So they won their just reward

Now they stand beside the treasure

On the mountain dark and red

Turn the stone and look beneath it,

Peace on earth was all it said


My sister heard this song at a Girl Scout camp in 5th grade. It was taught and sung around a campfire environment. She said she remembered it more that other camp songs because she agreed with the message that it conveyed. She continued to sing the song for several years as she continued to attend Girl Scout camp.

I heard my sister singing this song after she learned it at camp. I like this song because of how it ties religious ideas with everyday characteristics. You have the valley people that are greedy and want the treasure from the mountain. The mountain people don’t actually have treasure, but they are willing to share their way of life with them. The valley people then take war to the mountain, killing everyone on the mountain. When they look for the treasure, all the mountain people had was peace.

I had believed this song was pure folklore – a camp song that was song mainly in that environment. After some research, I discovered that the song was written by two men, Dennis Lambert and  Brian Potter, and recorded in 1969 by the band Original Caste. I know my sister did not know that when she learned the song and am sure that most, if not all, of the camp counselors teaching the song did not know there is an official, recorded version of the song. This is an example of some that went from being a published material and sort of de-evolved into a folk song.