Most are grandmothers and one is a great-grandmother. Their ages range from 45 to 71. All are registered Girl Scouts, former leaders who no longer feel the necessity to do good deeds. Neither do they confine their activities to the rocking chair.
They prefer to sit in a hot tub, sip California wine and survey the San Fernando Valley spread out below them, a festival of lights.
These are the girls of Troop 007, an unofficial adult troop whose members are firmly committed to girl scouting.
A few still function in scouting. Arlene Faber of Van Nuys, for instance, is president of the San Fernando Valley Girl Scout Council.
“Most of the members of Troop 007 are retired,” she explained, “but we still have projects, on a strictly volunteer basis, that support Girl Scouts.” The troop is now trying to raise money to send four girls and a leader to Sweden for an international camp in the summer of 1986.
But, for most, their working days are over. Many have earned 25-year service pins, and their leader, Kit Klinger, affectionately called “the dictator,” was honored by the Valley council in 1985 for 50 years of service. Service for these women included countless cookie and calendar sales, summer day camps, weekly meetings and training sessions during which a deep camaraderie developed.
“It takes a special kind of person to be a Scout leader,” said co-founder Carel McCafferty of Chatsworth, “and I, for one, didn’t want to give up my friendships with these special people.”
Others, too, felt the loss, and from that need an idea was conceived. The women would form their own adult troop and have monthly meetings, devoted strictly to fun and maintaining their friendships. There would be no rules, no commitments to do good, no youngsters to train and no badges to earn. This would be a thoroughly hedonistic endeavor.
Thus, in 1970, Troop 007 was born.
Since they are completely unofficial, nothing is required of them from the national Girl Scout organization. That suits them just fine. Children aren’t allowed; therefore the members of Troop 007 no longer feel that they have to set a good example.
Instead of pocket stew and camp food at the monthly meetings, each woman brings her fanciest dish to contribute to the gourmet potluck meal. And every fifth person brings a bottle of wine to share.
“We are a completely democratic organization,” longtime member Nena Wolfe of Canoga Park said with a laugh. “We discuss and vote on everything and then Kit tells us what we are going to do.”
It is Klinger, of Mission Hills, who arbitrarily makes the decisions when the troop has too many ideas.
It is also Klinger who, when everyone talks at once, admonishes, “Five minutes of silence!” However, this rarely lasts more than two seconds. In desperation, Klinger has been known to turn off her hearing aid.
There are more than 30 members, some of whom belong to the “Night Patrol” that was formed for those still part of the daytime work force. Activities vary from horse races to museums, plays, concerts and trips to Las Vegas.
And, what would a Girl Scout troop be without a summer day camp? Not much, so Troop 007 organized one and called it Gypsy Winds.
For one week each summer, a generous member invites the troop to use her huge, rambling ranch house perched on top of a hill, surrounded by 12 acres of trees and flowers overlooking the San Fernando Valley. There are a swimming pool, a spa and a complete woodworking shop. The opportunity to relax and renew in such lavish surroundings is something they never experienced during their “working days.”
Sometimes they take trips together--"gypsying,” they call it. Last year six members piled into a station wagon and toured California.
“As we traveled, we sang all the old songs we could remember . . . even the naughty ones,” said Klinger, a former WAVE, or member of the former U.S. Navy Women’s Reserve.
“You should have seen the looks we got as we rafted down the Truckee River,” laughed Flo Miller of Agoura, a grandmother of four.
When members of Troop 007 move away, they become “foreign correspondents.” Goldie Chirlin of Arleta, the oldest member at age 71, says that foreign correspondents are not forgotten. “We write to them and visit them whenever possible.” A member who now lives in Saudi Arabia hasn’t been visited-- yet .
Do they ever feel guilty about having so much fun?
“Not at all,” says Klinger. “We’ve done our share and we feel we have earned the right to be a little self-indulgent. Besides, it’s not selfish to be a loving, supportive friend.”
Old soldiers may fade away, but old Girl Scouts just keep on scouting.