“Make new friends and keep the old” is more than just a traditional Girl Scout song. For members of the adult Troop 007, it’s a way of life.
The group, one of the few organized adult troops in the country, has humble origins in the western suburbs of Chicago.
“It all started in 1965 when we decided to have our own adult outing after a council-sponsored one,” explained Carol “Cinders” Nelson, one of the charter members of the troop. “At the time, it was part of the Girl Scout Lone Tree Area Council in Oak Park, Illinois.”
That first year, the women went camping in Wisconsin. Over time, as Girl Scout tradition would have it, they bestowed upon each other camp nicknames, such as “Beaver,” “Stinky” and “Salty.” For example, Nelson became known as “Cinders” after sweeping a fireplace at camp and Rita “Little Bill” Watt was named after the Commonwealth Edison light bulb logo.
The members refer to each other by their camp names so frequently, they often forget each other’s real names.
“There was one time we went to visit a friend in the hospital and we couldn’t remember her real name,” recalled Watt. “The nurse must have thought we were crazy. It was so funny. We had a lot of fun over the years.”
After inducting 32 original members, the group had a waiting list. In order to become part of the troop, women had to be a registered Girl Scout member and referred by a current member. Husbands were often honorary members.
“It’s like a family,” Nelson said after describing the time a Sister Girl Scout’s husband made dinner for her family after her father-in-law had passed away.
The troop’s moniker derived from the James Bond series, which had premiered a few years before Troop 007 convened.
“We just thought he [Sean Connery] was so handsome!” said Watt.
As adult volunteers, Troop 007 created fun, hands-on activities for the girl members, such as the Brownie Bash, Cadette Crawl and Junior Jumble.
“They’d ask us to teach other leaders and facilitate camp crafts for children,” said Nelson. “We also taught them how to build campfires and sing the traditional camp songs.”
But the fun wasn’t limited to the girls. During Troop 007’s adult outings, each patrol would have a different theme, such as decades and superheroes, and create banners to coincide with the theme.
“Our camping days are behind us now,” said Watt. “We’re past that age now.”
After 50 years together, Troop 007 officially disbanded in October 2015, but they still get together occasionally for lunch and other outings, most often in St. Charles, Illinois where they had attended the now defunct Girl Scout Camp Wild Rose. There are about a dozen surviving members of the group in various states including Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota and Washington.
As a final act of goodwill toward Sister Girl Scouts, the troop donated about $200, the remains of the troop treasury, to Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana to “help a girl or troop enjoy a camping experience.”
“It’s a way to give back to Girl Scouting,” said Nelson.
Pam “Gunner” Roti, whose mother, Doris “Beaver” Morris, is also a member of Troop 007, agreed.
“If it weren’t for the Girl Scouts, I’d be a memory,” Roti said. “I was one of the naughty ones and Girl Scouts helped me turn my life around.”