Had there been a Girl Scout badge for lighting up a Parliament behind Ye Olde Candle Shoppe at some historic village in New Jersey, I’d have one.
Or a Mean Girl badge for staying mum while a gaggle of Scouts buried Janis What’s-her-name’s underpants in the woods? I earned one of those, too.
But Molly Moon Neitzel — the owner of the popular local ice cream chain Molly Moon’s — was one of the good Girl Scouts. For 11 years, she went off to Camp Alice Pittenger in McCall, Idaho, and did only wholesome things. Crafted friendship bracelets and braided hair. Whittled and cooked and learned first aid.
In the process, she earned confidence and got to know who she was. No small thing when you’re a teenager.
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“It was the best part of my childhood,” said Neitzel, now 35. “I loved it.”
So it makes sense that she is the director of “Glamp,” a two-day fundraiser that allows grown women to go back to Girl Scout camp — and in the process, fund camperships for local Girl Scouts who would otherwise miss out.
The event was started 15 years ago by former REI CEO and now U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, a former Girl Scout who knew a thing or two about the outdoors — and how to raise money.
Over the last few years, though, directors changed and interest in the so-called “Girlfriends Weekend” started to wane.
“So I naively said, ‘I’ll be camp director!’” said Neitzel, with a rueful smile.
When she volunteered, she and her husband, Zack, had just welcomed daughter February, who will be two on Valentine’s Day.
Still, she dived right in, “tweaking and re-imagining” the two-day event to make it more relaxing — but still a fundraiser. Each $250 ticket pays for a girl to go to sleepaway camp for five days. Go to (girlscoutsww.org and look for Glamp Weekend).
Held at Camp River Ranch in Carnation on Sept. 6 and 7, Glamp is a chance for women to leave their cellphones, laptops and family responsibilities for two days and one night, and tap into the girls they once were.
Already signed up are the owners of 8 Limbs Yoga, Pomegranate Bistro, Trophy Cupcakes, Clover Toys, ParentMap and Bean Sprouts Cafe — all former Girl Scouts.
There will be sunrise yoga, Zuma and boot camp and hikes in the woods with a naturalist and nature photographer. Canoeing, swimming, kayaking and an archery range.
Glampers will be able to earn badges in skills like flower arranging, under the guidance of Katherine Anderson of Marigold and Mint; wine and food pairing, led by Walrus & Carpenter bartender Anna Wallace; and Chef Knife Skills with Lisa Dupar. There will be Dutch-oven and Indian cooking classes, as well as pasta-making lessons..
“These are things I know people would like to do,” Neitzel said. “We’re bringing back a beloved childhood experience, but putting an adult spin on it. Everything is the grown-up version of all the stuff you remember about camp.”
So there will be plenty of hair-braiding and flower crowns, sure, she said, “but with stiff drinks.”
But the real reason to go, she said, is to make it possible for young girls to have a the kind of life-changing experience that only camp can offer.
“Girl Scout camp was the first place I ever felt self-sufficient,” Neitzel said. “And from what I see of my Seattle mom peers, there’s something that kids aren’t getting these days.”
I heard that.
Girl Scout statistics gathered over the past few years bear this out. Eighty percent of female executives and business owners and executives were once Girl Scouts. So were 68 percent of women in Congress and 93 percent of female astronauts.
By her fourth summer of attending Girl Scout camp, “I owned the place,” Neitzel said. “It was this secret, powerful place that my parents could never know.”
And it was a safe place for girls to find out about themselves — their interests, sexuality, insecurities — and get whatever support and encouragement they needed from other campers, and their counselors.
“Having these teenaged and early-20s young women role models was so important,” Neitzel said. “The sun rose and set on my camp counselors. Turtle and Ariel and Skipper. I still remember their names.”
Those memories have stayed with her — and fueled her connection to the Girl Scouts of Western Washington.
Neitzel purchases some $20,000 worth of Thin Mint cookies directly from Girl Scouts (at $4 a box) to make her “Scout Mint” ice cream, and has driven her ice-cream truck out to Camp River Ranch for some scooping and singing.
That visit gave her some ideas for when she returns in September with about 100 former Girl Scouts, hoping to make new memories.
“I’m planning really good stuff in my cabin,” Neitzel told me as I left.
Just please don’t bury my underpants.
Nicole Brodeur: firstname.lastname@example.org.