Girl Scout Cookies and World-Building

by Olivia A. (’14)

Many of you have probably noticed by now that I’m a girl scout (especially now that it’s cookie season, meaning that you can buy cookies from me for $4 a box if you feel so inclined). It’s difficult for a lot of people to imagine high school-age girl scouts. One would think girls would lose their attraction to the organization once they age and the cookie-selling gets tough (it’s much easier to make money if you are six years old, adorable, and shivering on a street corner). However, my troop has stuck through it for eight years now and has morphed over time to become a very intimate, eccentric group. Ours is probably the only troop in history to also be a band (four ukuleles and an occasional children’s accordion).

A couple of years ago we came up with the idea of doing a Harry Potter-themed camporee to put on for younger girls in our service unit. We were excited by the possibility of fully entrenching not only ourselves but those around us in an exciting world of our own invention. It became a very complicated and involved process. Not only were we planning the logistical aspects of hosting a camporee for one hundred guests, but also creating the fictional world we would reside in for the weekend. We used the basic structure of the Harry Potter books to plan out the world, yet we created our own characters, legends, and traditions—all complex and fully realized.

I was Professor Kale P. Cucumere for the entire weekend. I had a backstory, costume, and personality that I occupied and believed in. The younger girls did too. They believed that the Oobleck I was teaching them to make had magical properties, and that I had real stories to tell them about my days as a wild werewolf loose in the Oregon forests. They often came up to me, excitedly demonstrating how they could get the non-Newtonian substance to shift between solid and liquid. They asked me about Kale Cucumere’s middle name, her family, and her favorite place in the forest.

I don’t think anyone came away from our camp expecting to perform real magic, and I didn’t honestly envision myself transforming into a werewolf after I went to sleep at night—and yet, I like to think that in fully realizing the stories that we created, my friends and I briefly brought to life a world that we felt at home in.

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