(The following is a tribute to more than one
person: the leaders who worked together, the parents who gave support,
the girls who trusted us, and the Heavenly Father who watched over us.
We were told in leadership training, “Never pass up an opportunity to
have a positive influence on your children’s peers.”
On behalf of all who worked with Scouts at that
time, we thank Bette for her thoughts. It was a memorable time for us,
and her letter is a reminder to us all that efforts may not be
recognized for 40 years, or even in a lifetime, but life changing
activities are taking place that will affect our families, nation and
For several years now, I’ve wanted to write a
letter of thanks, and Helen’s “From the Publisher’s Desk . . .” column
provided the perfect segue for me to finally do just that.
In your column, you spoke of God giving you and Mr.
Morris a special mission field of your seven children and while that
statement was unconditionally factual, it was equally understated. I
know first-hand that God’s mission for you extended far beyond the
boundaries of your own family. That mission in fact, extended to all
points of this little county we call home, through your years of
dedicated service to the local Girl Scouts program.
All during my formative years, you opened your
home, your family, your farm, and your heart to a whole generation of
young girls such as me. Many of my fondest childhood memories are of
“scouting.” I remember week-long day camps at your place when we’d hike
(for what seemed like miles) to the farthest reaches of the Morris farm,
all the while packing on our backs the multitude of supplies needed for
us to clear a location, dig a latrine and fire pit, and lash tables, all
the while working cooperatively to set up camp for the week. That kind
of manual labor for young girls, unthinkable by today’s standards, was
considered “great fun” by the pre-teen girls of my generation. An added
bonus came in the form of those little circular badges that we scrambled
to fill our sashes with, not realizing at the time, their intrinsic
value far outweighed their esthetic worth.
I remember as a “Junior” scout, being in awe of
“Senior” scouts, Carleen and “Bobba,” and their beautiful singing as
they led campfire songs. I recall that Joe, Bob, and Bill could always
be found out in the dirt somewhere with Tonka trucks. I’m also confident
that if you could ask any girl in my troop, we each felt as if we played
a role (however small or imagined) in the rearing of both “Jimbo” and
Sarah Beth, they were so young and so precious!
Helen, you made scouting an unforgettable
experience for me and I’m confident that I speak also for the large
number of girls that formed our county Girl Scout troops of the 1960’s.
Through my collective scouting experiences with you at the “helm,” I
developed a solid work ethic, strong values, good morals, discipline,
respect, a deep sense of pride and many other life-skills too numerous
to name. Those aforementioned attributes helped shape the woman I am
I often wonder if my own adult children can recall
anyone from their childhood who impacted their lives in similar ways. I
can only hope so. My most fervent prayer is that young mothers today are
still as willing to give of themselves and their time to so positively
impact our youngest generation of Calhoun County girls. Again, I can
With all I’ve said in mind, please accept this very
belated thank you for your time, your influence on my life, and for
many, many cherished childhood memories.
Bette (Hoffman) Ritchie