As February is Black History Month, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri is honoring and recognizing local Girl Scouts, adult volunteers and alums who have left a long-lasting and permanent impact on our community and beyond! Today’s blog post will focus on two lifelong Girl Scouts whose dedication to the organization’s mission leaves a legacy of bold and entrepreneurial-minded women in their wake.

Ninety-two-year-old Sallie Simmons became a Girl Scout troop leader in 1965 when she organized Troop 1526. She was determined to provide her 30 young women with experiences that would help them develop essential skills, preparing them for a lifetime of leadership and success. For Simmons, this meant she and her Girl Scouts regularly went camping—they camped at least twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.

According to Dr. Kynedra Ogunnaike, one of the original members of Simmons’ first troop out of All Saints Episcopal Church, they practiced pitching their tents at a park before setting foot in camp! Camp Cedarledge was a favorite of Troop 1526—they enjoyed exploring the property’s creeks and rolling hills, but those memories are significant for another reason. Troop 1526 was the first black troop to camp there. Simmons said at that time, her troop had adventures most black troops did not experience. Early on in her troop leader role, Simmons recognized that camping would challenge her Girl Scouts and help them build essential leadership skills.

“We were the only black troop at camp,” Dr. Ogunnaike said. “We had very traditional camping experiences and it was amazing. Mrs. Simmons took us traveling too, even back then. She taught us so much. She taught us how to push past things we were afraid of, work through disagreements, she taught us how to be strong and confident ladies.”

While camping was significant to Simmons and Troop 1526 – embracing Girl Scout traditions and executing them thoughtfully was even more important. Dr. Ogunnaike remembers troop meetings dedicated to learning how to respectfully carry out a flag ceremony. She distinctly recalls Simmons asking the girls to rest the flags on top of their toes, not the floor, if they needed to put them down for a moment. It’s because of these long-lasting memories, Girl Scouts has continued to play a large role in her life. Nowadays, Dr. Ogunnaike juggles a busy schedule while also serving as a Girl Scout troop leader. Recently, she took the lead and helped eastern Missouri Girl Scouts perform a recent flag ceremony at the One Voice, One Movement: 2020 Membership Marketing Conference hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA.

“Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout” she said. “I had the opportunity to watch my daughter, Legacy, participate in a color guard ceremony for Girl Scouts of the USA. I am always reminded of the fine opportunities and memories I have made with this organization.”

FLAG CEREMONY ESSENTIALS

A flag ceremony honors the American flag as the symbol of our country and may be used for opening or closing meetings; opening or closing special events; beginning or closing a day; honoring a special occasion or person; and retiring a worn flag. All flag ceremonies share one thing—respect for the flag.

FLAG CEREMONY GUIDELINES

First off, keep it simple and remember, there’s no perfect recipe for a flag ceremony! Start off by asking the following questions when planning:

  • Who will carry the flags?
    (There could be up to four flags—the American flag, the state flag, the Girl Scout flag and the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Scouts)
  • Who will be the color guards?
    (At least one girl per flag although the preference is two on either side of the flag)
  • Who will give directions for the ceremony?
  • After the Pledge of Allegiance, will the Girl Scout Promise and the Law be recited?
  • When will the group practice?
  • Where will the flags be placed?

FLAG CEREMONY TERMS

  • Color Bearer: The color bearer is the person who carries the flag, there is at least one color bearer for each flag used in the ceremony.
  • Color Guard: The color guard is the team protecting and guarding the flags. Because this requires complete attention, the color guard members do not participate in any part of the flag ceremony (singing, reciting, speaking), but stand silently.
  • Caller: The caller is the one Girl Scout designated to announce or call each command in the ceremony.

LOOKING FOR MORE INFO?

Our fellow Girl Scout sister Councils are a great source of information! Check out The Trailhead’s post; visit Girl Scouts of the USA’s website page and Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusett’s complete flag ceremony guide!

Questions about the story? Please email Cassandra Lay, Senior Marketing Manager, at clay@girlscoutsem.org.