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(The following is a tribute to more than one person: the leaders who worked together, the parents who gave support, the girls who trusted us, and the Heavenly Father who watched over us. We were told in leadership training, “Never pass up an opportunity to have a positive influence on your children’s peers.”

On behalf of all who worked with Scouts at that time, we thank Bette for her thoughts. It was a memorable time for us, and her letter is a reminder to us all that efforts may not be recognized for 40 years, or even in a lifetime, but life changing activities are taking place that will affect our families, nation and environment.)

For several years now, I’ve wanted to write a letter of thanks, and Helen’s “From the Publisher’s Desk . . .” column provided the perfect segue for me to finally do just that.

In your column, you spoke of God giving you and Mr. Morris a special mission field of your seven children and while that statement was unconditionally factual, it was equally understated. I know first-hand that God’s mission for you extended far beyond the boundaries of your own family. That mission in fact, extended to all points of this little county we call home, through your years of dedicated service to the local Girl Scouts program.

All during my formative years, you opened your home, your family, your farm, and your heart to a whole generation of young girls such as me. Many of my fondest childhood memories are of “scouting.” I remember week-long day camps at your place when we’d hike (for what seemed like miles) to the farthest reaches of the Morris farm, all the while packing on our backs the multitude of supplies needed for us to clear a location, dig a latrine and fire pit, and lash tables, all the while working cooperatively to set up camp for the week. That kind of manual labor for young girls, unthinkable by today’s standards, was considered “great fun” by the pre-teen girls of my generation. An added bonus came in the form of those little circular badges that we scrambled to fill our sashes with, not realizing at the time, their intrinsic value far outweighed their esthetic worth.

I remember as a “Junior” scout, being in awe of “Senior” scouts, Carleen and “Bobba,” and their beautiful singing as they led campfire songs. I recall that Joe, Bob, and Bill could always be found out in the dirt somewhere with Tonka trucks. I’m also confident that if you could ask any girl in my troop, we each felt as if we played a role (however small or imagined) in the rearing of both “Jimbo” and Sarah Beth, they were so young and so precious!

Helen, you made scouting an unforgettable experience for me and I’m confident that I speak also for the large number of girls that formed our county Girl Scout troops of the 1960’s. Through my collective scouting experiences with you at the “helm,” I developed a solid work ethic, strong values, good morals, discipline, respect, a deep sense of pride and many other life-skills too numerous to name. Those aforementioned attributes helped shape the woman I am today.

I often wonder if my own adult children can recall anyone from their childhood who impacted their lives in similar ways. I can only hope so. My most fervent prayer is that young mothers today are still as willing to give of themselves and their time to so positively impact our youngest generation of Calhoun County girls. Again, I can only hope!

With all I’ve said in mind, please accept this very belated thank you for your time, your influence on my life, and for many, many cherished childhood memories.

                                                      Bette (Hoffman) Ritchie

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