Thoughts from Dr. Joe:

Recently I received a call from Terese Miller, the outdoor program director for the Mount Wilson Vista Girl Scout Council. “Dr. Joe,” she said, “Would you do security for the upcoming Girl Scout Jamboree at Glen Helen Park?”

I’ve always been an experience junkie, so jumping off the abyss seemed natural to me. Rarely have I taken that leap simply to satiate the unquenchable pursuit of adrenaline. Instead, I am driven by novelty, which is much increased by the simple pursuit of its gratification.

So, of course I said yes. Experience is predicated by saying yes to opportunity.

The council was expecting approximately 2,000 Girl Scouts and leaders and I sensed that Terese wanted a tight ship.

As I contemplated my charge I realized that one cannot secure a static position. It is the offensive that achieves strategic goals; defending is purely a tactic. I took a lesson from the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu and sent Terese a security plan that comprised aggressive patrolling beyond the wire.

After a thorough recon of the park and noting all avenues of approach, I assembled my team, Brian Cooper and Jack Joy, the best doggone security guys this side of the Pecos. We were ready for any eventuality.

At the park it was hotter than a biscuit, but I had learned that one could survive in every clime and place with the right attitude. You can create the appropriate consciousness to feel comfortable in any environment.

There were literally hundreds of tents and I’ll betcha a sawbuck that it rivaled the gathering of the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne nations at the eve of Custer’s last stand.

During the hot static hours of the day I spent time with the ladies from the council. I was overwhelmed by their dedication and commitment to the overall philosophy of Girl Scouting, “Where Girls Grow Strong!”

It’s the likes of Judy Hubbs, Laura Nelson and Katherine Kerstien, whose camaraderie, knowledge and example provide scouts a sense of sisterhood and the belief that girls can do anything.

The logistics of the camp were immense. Cally Lau, Amy Hinijosa, Lailani Wilmore and Rebecca Hadfield seemed to be everywhere.

I became intrigued by a special group of scouting volunteers. They were senior citizens and were camping with the girls. They were part of a society of women who had raised the current generation, built communities and empowered hundreds of girl scouts, taking them from crayons to perfume. They were called the Order of the Silver Trefoils. Membership in this revered group required a minimum of 25 years of service. Carol McCann explained that these women are still very active as council board members, service unit managers, chairs of major events, trainers, participants in key committees and general volunteers.

At 87, Myrl Kuhlman was the senior scout present. She spoke about a special bond and spirit that permeates and weaves together the beautiful fabric of scouting. Like a quilt of many colors, its threads extend beyond the fulcrum, creating connections that last a lifetime. Sylvia Wilke and Sue Hadfield explained that within this group there is a historical society that preserves the memorabilia of old records, documents, equipment and uniforms that connect scouts from the past to the present.

Throughout the Jamboree the shouts and screams and the blurred motion of the children spoke of their joy. It was a happening; it was a great experience.

Security was bombproof. Brian pulled the midnight shift, Jack had 2 a.m., and I took over at 4 a.m. Sitting on a hill with a commanding view, I watched the sunrise, and thought — nothing happens in a vacuum. The light broke softly on the eastern horizon, no different than the very first morning.

JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor specializing in students transition to college. He is a professor of education at Glendale Community College and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at or write him in care of the Valley Sun, P.O. Box 38, La Cañada, CA 91012.

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