Subscribe for 17¢ / day

No one needed an alarm clock when camping at Twin Pines Girl Scout Camp on the Rimrocks west of the airport.

Every morning at 7 a.m., an airplane roared overhead, shaking girls from their sleep.

Twin Pines is just one of many memories that Eileen Badgley Morris, 80, has reaped from more than 60 years in Scouting.

She grew up living over her parents’ mom-and-pop grocery story at First Avenue North and North 19th Street.

She joined the Brownies in 1940 as a second-grader at the old Roosevelt School, where the Billings Community Center is now.

Right off the bat, she learned useful things. She had to make her own Brownie scarf, embroidering the Girl Scout trefoil and “G.S.” initials into the fabric.

When the United States entered World War II the next year, Morris joined other Billings Brownies going door to door collecting bacon fat saved by homemakers. Her mother heated the collected fat and strained it through a dishtowel into a 50-pound can. Her father took it to Pierce Packing, where it was shipped off to be turned into glycerin to make bombs.

Although Morris had experienced the outdoors on her family’s ranch in the Gallatin Valley, she had never been camping before going to Twin Pines.

“It was like being in the wilderness,” she said about the camp’s location in a tree-lined ravine cutting through the prairie.

As many as 250 Brownies attended day camp at Twin Pines, while older Scouts stayed through the week.

In the winter, they used the large cabin that could accommodate 30 people. In the summer, they slept outside in tents.

Morris would later be a counselor and then director of the camp.

The camp was closed in the 1970s when longer runways to accommodate bigger jets were built too close to the camp for safety’s sake.

In 1948, Morris went to the 12th conference of the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in Cooperstown, N.Y., a gathering of adult leaders.

Morris, then 16, was a camper at a camping exhibit with girls from Canada and Brazil.

There, she got to shake the hand of Lady Baden-Powell, the founder of the Girl Scouts’ sister organization, the Girl Guides in Great Britain.

When Lady Powell noticed a bandage on Morris’ finger, she quipped, “Wounded in action, I see.”

The experience was monumental for the girl from Billings who had never been east of Custer before.

“I had a ball,” Morris said.

Morris continued in scouting when she went to Senior High and into her freshman year at Eastern Montana College of Education, now Montana State University Billings.

She took a few years off after marrying in 1951 and had two children. When her daughter, Lani Morris Easton, became a Scout as a third-grader in 1962, Morris signed up as a leader, later becoming a Treasure Trails Council board member, then a staff member and finally executive director of the council, retiring as a lifetime member.

Her greatest joy in Scouting was working with cadets and senior Girl Scouts at an age when they are opening their eyes to the larger world.

“It’s amazing to see girls take responsibility and learn about the world around them,” she said.

In 1976, three EMC students working in a group home came to the Girl Scouts office to ask about starting a troop for special-needs children.

Morris organized a troop with 30 students working one-on-one with children in a troop that thrived for more than 25 years.

It was meaningful work for Morris and life-changing for some of the students.

One male student changed his major to special education when he realized that’s what he wanted to do. Another student changed her major to music therapy after using music with the kids.

Scouting continues to be part of Morris’ life.

Morris meets every month with a group of women who are former Treasure Trails staff members.

She still gets Christmas cards from some of the girls in the troop she led.

Some Girl Scout contacts stretch back even further.

When she gathered for her 60th high school class reunion in 2010, she enjoyed seeing a half-dozen friends with whom she started Brownies.

Contact Mary Pickett at mpickett@billingsgazette.com or 657-1262.

0
0
0
0
0