It’s summer 1959. More than 8,000 high-school-aged Girl Scouts from around the world are gathered on a hillside north of Colorado Springs. They are the cream of the crop: those who have applied and been accepted to attend the second-ever Girl Scout Roundup. For these 8,000 girls and the 2,000 or so adults who are joining them, it is a privilege and an honor to set up tent cities, practice outdoor cooking skills, attend special forums and evening programs, and sing songs around a campfire.
Now, fast-forward fifty years: Many of these same women will return to Colorado Springs in July, along with some of the 40,000 total attendees of the four roundups held in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This first roundup reunion to be held outside of Vermont is planned for July 26–31, 2009, and will mark the 50th anniversary of the Colorado Springs Roundup.
"The roundups had such a lasting impact on everyone who attended,” said Nancy Henning, a Denver-area lifetime Girl Scout and roundup reunion organizer. "One never forgets the experience. This event impacted so many people, and they still do today.”
Nancy and her sister, Karen Smith of Pueblo, are heading up the organizing committee. Along with their younger sister, Jan, who now lives in Illinois, they attended roundups as girls, and have attended several of the reunions organized by Girl Scouts of Vermont. To make the Colorado Springs Roundup Reunion a reality, the two have worked tirelessly for years to get the word out and to track down past attendees. They toured several sites before eventually deciding on Colorado College, giving "rounduppers” the option of sleeping in dorms rather than tents. Hundreds of people have signed up already at a cost of $750 per person, which covers food, lodging, and events. Many of the same activities as those offered in 1959 are planned, such as visiting the Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Academy, and Flying W Ranch.
Karen and Nancy say the reunion is about celebrating a shared memory and a shared experience. A quote from another roundup participant: "It changed me. It changed everybody there. We all went home with a brand new world in our hearts.”
Looking back on the 50 years that have passed since she attended the 1959 roundup, Karen can see how her life was impacted.
"I could not have done on my own what I was able to do with Girl Scouts,” she said. "The Girl Scout Roundup was one of those life-changing things. It gave me an interest in international relations and an interest in traveling and being a world citizen, and I have carried that with me my whole life.”
For more information on the Colorado Springs Roundup Reunion, visit www.girlscoutroundupreunion.com