Each of the following messages is designed to be placed at the foot different natural object (preferrably a tree), and read when discovered (as during a "night eyes" exercise). Also, the entire set of messages can be used, or one or more messages used separately, as part of any ceremony.
I am a Sign [Girl Scout Sign]
I am a sign of allegiance, a signal of respect. I am made with the right hand, the arm of authority. By my sign, girls and adults declare to "do their best". I signal to strive for reverence, patriotism, goodwill, and self-respect. I am an open pledge pointing to the sky and facing many in the presence of others. I am held by those who are thoughtful, attentive, and confident that girls and adults will accomplish together what they cannot do alone. I am a deep wish inside a girl who thinks of her duty; I am the conviction of a leader who knows how challenging her duty is, Together, they form a partnership to live what can be done together, with the help of the Almighty.
I am a Handclasp [Girl Scout Handshake]
I am a handclasp. In a world of barriers and no-man's lands, I reach out to offer a peace pact. I am more than a simple greeting. I am two hands locked like one, uniting fellow Scouts, friends, neighbors, sisters and brothers. I am not done behind the back but face to face. It is my job to keep two people facing one another and not taking the other for granted. I am also reserved for those special times when people want to communicate things like "congratulations, well done" or "blessings be with you".
I am a Compass
I am a compass. I lead the lost to safety. In the hand of a girl, I bring the north star before her eyes. In field and forest I mark a path for her as clear as a road map. By degrees, she finds her way to treasures, campsites, and safely home. I am her guide in the palm of her hand. With me, she tests the four corners of the earth and can go confidently forth on great voyages of discovery. I can show her time. With me she can read the direction of distance and the hour of the stars. By me she knows she has a purpose on earth and has been put here to find it.
I am a Knot
I come in many varieties, such as bowline, half hitch, square, and sheet bend. I am used on land as well as sea by rescuers, sailors, sportsmen, and campers. If tied properly, I do not tighten up, slip, or jam. I have helped many to be pulled to safety without hurting. I am on the fingertips of millions. I can sometimes be done in the dark or tied with one hand. I can tie up a boat, fasten down a tent, or wrap a package. I can be a child's chair, a sling on an injured arm, or a decorative necklace. I am for games, races, and for saving of life. I am with those who rescue and those who are rescued. I can be learned, and used by those who wish to jog their memories. Those who learn to tie me know my purpose. Those who know me best use me to help themselves and to serve others.
I am a Neckerchief [Bandana]
I am a neckerchief on duty, double duty. My duty is to the troop, to be a bond in color and design, binding them together. My other duty is to serve in fun and in pain. I can be a bandage, sling, and a dressing on the head, hand, or foot. In extreme emergency I can be a tourniquet, and have been known to save lives. Whether holding a splint, or keeping a troop occupied in games, I am a neckerchief. I am a garment, a tag, a sign, and I serve. I am like a marker around a girl's neck, fun at her feet, and mercy in her hands.
I am a Flag
I am a flag, folded or unfolded. I am on the way up in the early morning, and on the way down before sunset. I am folded as carefully as a mother will fold a cloth napkin, and am laid in some noble spot - with blue and white stars around me. I am held with care like a father holding a newborn son. I am history, shrunk into a single cloth, colored red, white, and blue. I am patriotic heros and adventure held together in a pattern of stars and stripes. I remind people of the past and the future. I wave high in the wind and I swell their pride in the present. I remind them of their country's founders, whose great deeds deserve praise. I am a sign that says in one look what cannot be contained in libraries of books. I am a sign that national cemeteries cannot contain, even with all their headstones. I am a sign that even the national anthem cannot contain in all of its four stanzas. I am sign that is inexhaustable.
I am a fire
I am a fire, and a steady breath is my draft and my chimney. I am begun with a match and a bit of dry tinder. I am the pride of the one who sets me in the middle of a ten-foot circle. I am a bed of glowing embers that make people bend their kneeds to see me close. I turn a flame into a layer of coals, a pile of sticks into a campfire, and a cold pit into a hot oven. I come in layers of sticks, tinder, kindling, and fuel, and consume everything from cattle droppings to milkweed. Whether a crisscross or teepee fire lay, I am lit from the windward side. In hiking meals or campouts, I cook shishkabob on pointed sticks and bake potatoes in the ground. I turn open earth into a kitchen, and can keep people eating and on duty for hours. I warm their hearth at sunset, and dry their clothes after a rain.
As I begin with pride, so I am extinguished with pride and care. My wet
ashes are turned back into the earth. I come and go as surely as do the
sun and the stars. At the end of the day, I am remembered and
photographed. I am a wonder of creation and rank high on the list of
things people wish for.
14 The Dash
removed at the request of the author 1-21-05
15 Diversity and Pluralism
Pass out a new penny to each person and explain:
Pluralism and diversity are sides of the same coin in Girl Scouting.
The "tails" side stands for all of the many ways we are different from each other; culture, hair color, religion, ethnic background, and so on. It stands for everything that makes us individuals in our lives and Girl Scouting. This is diversity.
The "heads" side of the coin stands for how we bring those individual differences together in Girl Scouting and other areas of our lives to enrich and work for the same goals in this organization. This is pluralism.
So when you put this penny in your pocket or purse, or when you see a penny, it will remind you of the definitions of diversity and pluralism.
[And note that: "E pluribus unum" is written on the penny. In Latin,
that means "from many, one" - and it really fits!]
16 Do Good
-- John Wesley
17 Everybody's Canoe
[This would make a good skit.]
A young Indian brave was busy at work carving a canoe out of a log. As he worked, members of the tribe passed by. Everybody had a piece of advice to offer the young man.
"I think you are making your canoe too wide," one of them said. The young brave, wishing to show respect for the advice of an elder, narrowed down the canoe.
A little later, another warrior stopped by. "I'm afraid you are cutting the stern too full," he said. Again, the young brave listened to his elder and cut down the stern.
Very soon, yet another member of the tribe stopped, watched awhile, then said, "The bow is too sheer." The young brave accepted this advice as well and changed the line of the bow.
Finally the canoe was complete and the young brave launched it. As soon as it hit the water, it capsized. Laboriously he hauled it back onto the beach. Then he found another log and began to work anew.
Very soon, a member of his tribe stopped by to offer some advice, but
this time the young brave was ready. "See that canoe over
there?" he asked, pointing to the useless craft on the beach.
"That is everybody's canoe." Then he nodded at the work in
progress. "This one," he said, "is my canoe".
The life of a fire is like the life of a person. In its infancy, it is faint and weak and must be carefully nourished and tended. As it catches, it crawls and spreads like a child exploring its world. In its adolescence, it flares fast and bright, racing for new height. Soon, it will burn with the steady heat and light of its adulthood.
A fire, in its later life, goes dim. No longer does it have the fierce brightness of its youth. Still, it gives a gentle, steady warmth, just as an elderly man or woman shares the warmth of understanding and the steadiness of experience.
And, this is a fact of life: all things must die. The memory of those passed on lives deep and dear in our hearts. This fire will fade to cold ash, but its flame will glow in our memory.
20 For those
Now let us bow our heads in reverence:
For women there are, undoubtedly, great difficulties in the path, but so much the more to overcome. First, no woman should say, "I am but a woman!" But a woman? What more can you ask to be?
Maria Mitchell, 1818 - 1889
First woman astronomer in the U.S. and the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and the Sciences Hall of Fame
22 The Four Immeasurable Vows, Tantric Buddhism
What does it mean to be a friend of the earth?
To be a friend usually means to have a relationship with another person. The very idea of being a friend of the earth is an expansion of the words' meaning. Friendship is a relationship, a relationship which is not extractive, but giving.
The earth asks very little of us-and yet it asks everything. To be a friend of the earth you must first make an offering of yourself-of your feelings. It must be an unconditional offer, generated out of affection.
How will you know if the earth responds? How will you learn if the earth joins you in these feelings? These are very different questions to answer, but we do have signs.
The earth will send clean waters and bird songs. It will fill the ocean with melodies and whales. It will send clean air and sharp edges, tasty greens and ripe, sweet fruit. It will flood the night with moonbeams.
All the earth asks is love and caring, nurturing and respect. It asks that you not overpower its capacity for regeneration. It asks for slow changes. It asks for humility. If you are its friend, the earth will know...and will respond.
-- Allan Gussow, President of the Friends of the Earth Foundation
(quoted in Canadian Guider, March/April 1986)
24 Friendship 1
|F||is for friends that you can trust|
|R||is relying on those being trusted|
|I||is for including, and not excluding|
|E||is for everyone you must include|
|N||is for nice, so don't be nasty|
|D||is for dear friends you must be|
|S||is for saying what you like, and not what you hate|
|H||is for helping those in need|
|I||is for importance for everyone|
|P||is for peace, and not for war|
Written by "Zoe, Heather, Amy, & Danielle", as part of one patrol's
contribution to a Guides Own service, held in Gloucestershire by Guide
units of Malmesbury Division, Maghull, Liverpool, England
25 Friendship 2
--13th century Chinese thought
Ah, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having
neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them out, just
as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand
will take them, sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a
breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
26 From the Diary of Anne Frank
From 1942 to 1944, Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis in
Amsterdam. They were captured in August 1944 and sent to various
concentration camps. At the age of 16, Anne died of typhus in the camp
at Belsen; a month later, the camp was liberated.
27 From 'The Fourteen Precepts from Interbeing'
As quoted from the eminent Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, these are first three of The Fourteen Precepts from Interbeing:
Master Thich was nominated by Dr. M. L. King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace
Prize. He is of the stature to interpret the teachings of the Buddha.
These teachings must always be reinterpreted in the light of the times
since Buddha taught to question everything, particularly one's own
perceptions, and that one important condition of existence was constant
28 The Gift of the Trees
We all know (don't we?) that happiness comes from giving to others.
Long ago, when the Great Spirit first put human beings on earth, people were concerned and afraid. "Where will we find food and water?" they asked. The trees laughed softly. "We are your sisters," they said. "We will help you."
The maple tree spoke up: "I will give you sweet water to drink and make into sugar." The elm tree said, "Use my soft bark to make your baskets and tie them together with my tough cords." The hickory tree said, "My cousins and I will fill your baskets with sweet nuts." And she called the chestnut, beech, and walnut to help. The great pine tree whispered softly, "When you get tired, I will make you a bed. My cousins the balsam and cedar will help me."
There was sunshine in the people's hearts as they set out to explore their new world. But soon they came to a deep, wide river. "How will we ever cross the river?" they asked. The trees laughed and laughed. "Take my white skin," said the birch. "Sew it together with the cords of the elm tree and you can make a boat that will carry you across the widest river."
When the sun crossed the sky to his lodge in the west, the people felt cold. Then the balsam fir tree whispered, "Good people, there is much sunfire in my heart. Rub my branches together and you will make a fire." So the people made fire. And that night they slept soundly on the branches of the great pine tree. The north wind blew cold, but there was sunshine in the hearts of the people.
Now when children ask how they can repay the friendship of the trees, a
wise person answers, "They do not ask for payment. But you can
give trees your care and attention. You can give love and care to every
plant and flower---that makes your life beautiful."
29 Girl Scout Benediction
But without many hours of work and care no troop can grow. Without the help of every member, the Girl Scout 'garden' will turn to weeds:
Build the soil, pull the weeds, and reap the harvest.
31 Global Interdependence
Lets be fanciful for a moment and demonstrate our global interdependence by considering the doings of a hypothetical US citizen:
His day begins as he steps out of his pajamas---a garment which originated in Thailand, and he washes with soap invented by the ancient French. He shaves, an activity first developed by the ancient priests of Iraq and made a little less unpleasant by the use of a razor made of steel, an iron-carbon alloy discovered in Turkestan. Then, down to breakfast. The table cloth is made of cotton from Uganda and the cutlery of South African or Zimbabwe chrome, nickel from Canada and vanadium from Peru. A cup of Indian tea or Kenyan coffee, a slice of Danish bacon, an egg from poultry which has been raised on food imported from any of thirty countries from Iceland and Chile to Japan, and he's ready to go.
Our subject then dons a close-fitting suit, a form of dress native to Iran; he then adjusts his tie, which is, of course, the remnant of a shoulder shawl from Croatia. Then, complete with hat that originated in Korea, and umbrella, invented by the Chinese, he will dash for the train, which the British invented. He then pauses to buy a newspaper using coins which first made their appearance in ancient Turkey. Then he settles back to scan today's news---which will be set out in Arabic characters on a Chinese invention of paper, by means of a German printing process. He'll snort with disgust at the antics of those dreadful foreigners, and thank a Hebrew God in a Indo-European language that he is 100 per cent---a decimal system invented by the Greeks---a speaker of English, a word of course derived from Angle, a district in Holland.
But if his ancestors had really been minding their own business all those centuries, our subject could then have cut a dashing figure in a wolf-skin with a face covered in woad.
There is no escaping the fact that we are hopelessly indebted to all mankind for the very sinews of our life. A thousand tiny filaments join us to every race under the sun.