A while back, Landon found a box full of memories in the attic. Yes, there’s more than Meryl Streep’s DNA up there. This particular box contained memories from my childhood, which my mother apparently got tired of storing at her house–totally ignoring the fact that she could one day be asked to provide paraphernalia for the My Imaginary Talk Show Museum. She’s going to feel pretty rotten when she has to confess that she wanted to reclaim a closet for something as mundane as clothes. But that is neither here nor there. The point is that my son found a box full of my childhood treasures in the attic and we had a grand ol’ time going through it.

Most noteworthy were my old Blue Bird Girls uniform and a bunch of loose, colorful beads. In case you don’t know, Blue Birds is to Camp Fire Girls what Brownies is to Girl Scouts. (I can’t believe they took the analogy section off of the SATs. That’s probably the only thing that got me into college.) I’m not sure, but it seemed to me the main difference between the two organizations is that the Camp Fire Girl/ Blue Birds sell candy and Brownies/ Girl Scouts sell cookies. For the record, that candy was way harder to sell! But, hey, at least it was better than that overpriced Boy Scout popcorn, so I shan’t complain.


I vaguely remember working to earn those colorful beads, which were the Blue Bird equivalent to merit badges. The number of beads in the box would suggest I hadn’t exactly knocked myself out to become the Grand Pooh-Bah of Blue Birds, or whatever that highest honor might be called. By the looks of that box, I was a mediocre Blue Bird, at best. Although, I did both sell and eat my fair share of Camp Fire Girl candy. So there’s that.

While looking through the beads, my son wanted to know the various colors meant. I had no earthly idea because my Blue Bird recollections pretty much consist of the aforementioned Camp Fire Girl candy, playing Red Rover, and taking a field trip to a beauty salon. I thumbed through my Blue Bird Adventure handbook, which was also in the box and found where my mom had initialed the tasks I completed to earn beads.

Camp Fire beads

Not my actual beads.

Over several years as a Blue Bird, I earned:

  • Business Action Honors-21 small yellow beads
  • Citizenship-18 red, white, and blue beads
  • Creative Arts-14 small green beads
  • Home Craft-27 flame (orange anyone?) beads. Looking over the tasks I completed, I think it’s fairly apparent my mother was using Blue Birds as a way to make me clean my closet and vacuum.
  • Outdoors Craft-0 brown beads. In my defense, I have allergies and there are bugs.
  • Science-6 sky blue beads
  • Sports and games-4 red beads–One was for creating jump-rope routines with music. One for for learning to play checkers. I was a jock!

There are also three big, fancy beads I can’t identify. And, quite frankly, I’ve lost interest. Yet, while reading up on Blue Birds, I felt a pang when I got to a section in The Blue Bird Wish Comes True.


“The Blue Bird Wish”

  • To have fun
  • To learn to make beautiful things
  • To remember to finish what I begin
  • To want to keep my temper most of the time
  • To go to interesting places
  • To know about trees and flowers and birds
  • To make friends

I spent some time reflecting on that list. Hmm… Well, playing Red Rover was fun. Check that one off. I vaguely remember making a macrame plant holder. Check off the one about learning to make beautiful things. I want to keep my temper most of the time. Sure. Interesting places? There was that field trip to the beauty salon. That was enjoyable. I think I get a pass on the one about knowing about trees and flowers and birds based on the fact I earned zilcho Outdoor Craft beads. We can’t all be Thoreau! I did make friends–many of whom I saw at my recent 30th reunion. But that one about remembering what I begin… That one got to me. Well, dagnabbit! I might not have earned any beads for Outdoors Craft, but I could certainly string the beads I had earned. Better yet, I could have my son do it for me! I should probably get a bead for delegating. 

Wikipedia tells me my background in the Camp Fire Girls puts me in good company. Notable Blue Bird/Camp Fire Girls include:

  • Rita Moreno     
  • Beverly Cleary
  • Lauren Graham
  • Gladys Knight
  • Madonna

Hey, ladies! In case any of you have some beads that need stringing, my son is available.

7927-4  Rita_Moreno_39th_AFI_Life_Achievement_Award_2byEWXfH03Hl

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Donna Blevins Leadford says:

    I should have known Beverly Cleary was one of us! FYI – I don’t have to really work so hard on my memory because you are doing the heavy lifting for me. How nice to have a refresher on my Bluebird bead colors! Thanks! I also got my beads in a box of “special” things, but I didn’t have as many. We know you are the favored child. I’m sure our mother put some of my beads in your possession. Oh well… You will be styling in your newly rediscovered necklace!

    • Christi Pelt says:

      Guh-reat!!! So, what you’re telling me is I wasn’t even a mediocre Blue Bird? I’ll trade you two Home Craft beads for one Outdoor Craft! I think I’ll wear the necklace with my Olan Mills cameo!

      Edited to add: We just went through the book and checked off the beads I earned with the ones on the necklace. I have 5 extra. Want them? For the record, all of the ones for vacuuming and cleaning my closet are accounted for.

  • Donna Blevins Leadford says:

    You should totally write about our experiences at Camp Wo-Ho-Le-To, which was near the rumored nudist colony, if you will recall!

  • Ervin says:

    Thank you, nice read.

Leave a Reply