Carol Rhan caresses a blanket hanging on the wall, flashing a smile, and a glimpse of the Girl Scout that lives within — and always has.
Covering the front of the blanket, are patches from the various Girl Scout troops Rhan served in at military bases in Germany and across Europe. The blanket is just part of a collection of Girl Scout memorabilia on display at the Cortez Library as part of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of America.
Local troops were formally recognized by the Cortez mayor and city council Tuesday as part of the 100-year anniversary.
“There’s nothing that would keep them from doing the same thing that I was able to do,” Rhan said. “But sometimes when you get small towns, kids tend to think very small. And girl scouting is a way to broaden their exposure to things and learn about other countries and how girls live in other countries.”
A lifetime Girl Scout, Rhan has served in troops in Tennessee and overseas in Germany, Turkey, Italy, Britain, and now advises local troops.
“We moved around a lot when I was a girl,” she said. “Wherever we moved, my mom found a methodist church and a Girl Scout troop. I was a Girl Scout for eight or nine years as a girl. Then when I went into the Air Force, my first tour was in West Berlin. The Air Force wanted their girls to be well-rounded.”
Military bases across the world hosted American Girl Scout troops, offering them meeting places where Girl Scout paraphernalia would accumulate. Over the years, Rhan acquired all kinds of trinkets, which grew into a collection.
“Since the ’50s, stuff would just be collected,” she said. “It’s just sort of my interest to do these kind of things. I’m a collector.”
The collection includes Trefoils, dolls, tins, magazines, mugs and scarfs dating back to the 1950s Some of the items were saved from closing Girl Scout huts on military bases, while others were bought from thrift stores.
“This off-white scarf with green and orange I actually got in 1976 when the British guides invited the American Girl Scouts to the celebration of the queen’s 60th anniversary,” she said. “But you had to have a uniform. So I called my mom in Florida and had her send me an adult Girl Scout uniform because I was a Girl Scout leader. And this is all I have left of that particular outfit.”
Rhan got into Girl Scouts as a young girl, and continued with the program as an adult while serving in the U.S. Air Force overseas.
“You can walk into a group of women and ask ‘how many of you were Girl Scouts?’ and they’ll raise their hands,” she said. “A lot of the women leaders in our country are Girl Scouts and were Girl Scouts.”
Two local troops gathered Tuesday at City Hall, where Cortez Mayor Dan Porter signed a proclamation honoring the Girl Scouts for their 100 years and proclaiming 2012 as “year of the girl.”
“Our Girl Scout motto, our mission statement, is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place,” Rhan said.
The collection of Girl Scout memorabilia is on display at the Cortez Library for the rest of the month. There are approximately 188 girls served by the program in Montezuma County.
Reach Reid Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org