Meet the Radical Brownies

Some crappy personalities in the news today, so here’s something nicer. Meet The Radical Brownies.

The Radical Brownies, a social justice-oriented version of the Girl Scouts, was set up only a few weeks ago to “empower young girls of colour to step into their collective power, brilliance and leadership to make the world a more radical place”. The group of 12 girls are not affiliated to the Girl Guide movement and there are no badges for hostessing. Instead, the members, aged between eight and 12 years old, learn about black history, civil rights and social justice; their reward system includes a “Black Lives Matter” badge and lessons in sustainable agriculture for a “Food Justice” badge. “Radical Beauty,” “Radical Self-Love,” and “LGBT Ally” badges are also on the curriculum.

This picture slays me:

radical brownies

I still remember showing up at my first Girl Scouts meeting, way back when, thinking that I was going to get to go camping like the boys; then finding out that we were actually going to learn to bake and make lanyards.

[insert sad trombone sound here]

I think I lasted two weeks.

69 replies
  1. 1
    MomSense says:

    I was kicked out of bluebirds for an electric mixer mishap.

  2. 2
    Lee says:

    I’ve got a great story from waaaaaaay back when I was kid about 5 or 6 (I’m now 50).

    My god-mother’s first was a boy who was a bit older than his siblings. He was in Boy Scouts and was very active.

    Middle sister witnessed all the fun big brother was having and wanted to be a girl scout. So she joined and quickly discovered the same thing as you.

    Her Mom said (to paraphrase) ‘fuck that’. Became troop mom and told all the girls and their parents ‘As a troop we are doing the same things as the boys.’. Enlisted her husband & son to tag along on the first camp out or two in order to teach her and the others. A good time was had by all.

  3. 3
    eldorado says:

    more of this please

  4. 4
    Pogonip says:

    I give it 6 months to a year. (The group, not the mixer.). This is one of those things like realistically-proportioned Barbies–adults dig it, kids not so much.

    Baud/Jane 2016: Because It’s A Jungle Out There.

    (Does future president Baud have an opinion on this issue?)

  5. 5
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @MomSense: do tell….

  6. 6
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Lee: nice one!

  7. 7
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Pogonip: Don’t be too sure. “Girl Power” is a thing, and if they do interesting stuff the girls will keep coming.

  8. 8
    Hillary Rettig says:

    note the rebel on far right who refused to wear her beret

  9. 9
    Gussie says:

    You think that’s bad? They made me go camping.

  10. 10

    @Gussie: I hear you. I don’t understand the draw of camping, aka, sleeping in the dirt. Adults do it for vacation! Why would you go on vacation and live worse than you do the rest of the time?

  11. 11
    Sad_Dem says:

    Aww, they are so adorable! Also, never mind the Girl Scouts, here’s the Queers playing “Kicked out of the Webelos.” (link not checked)

  12. 12
    Gin & Tonic says:

    And yet, in stark contrast with Boy Scouts (BSA) which have been to a large degree co-opted by the LDS, the Girl Scouts in the USA have been for quite a few years very empowering for girls of their age, and generally quite inclusive. They are two very different organizations.

    I know it’s de rigeur in some liberal circles to bad-mouth Scouting, but GSA really deserves a lot of credit.

  13. 13
    Fair Economist says:

    I’ll bet a lot of those girls will grow up to be very impressive.

  14. 14
    MomSense says:

    @Hillary Rettig:

    Troop leader’s fancy dining room had strawberry cake mix splattered all over it. I knew my way around a mixer so I think it was my way of getting out.

  15. 15
    FNWA says:

    The BSA noted that many people have complained about the disparity in program activities between the BSA and the GSA. The BSA approached the GSA about merging (which would make scouting in the US coed like a good portion of Europe) and were flatly turned down. The GSA thought the BSA only wanted their cookie money.

  16. 16
    Aalto says:

    They appear to have been founded last spring, not recently. And are still going strong, though renamed themselves as the Radical Monarchs (GSA wasn’t keen on the ‘brownies’ appropriation).

  17. 17
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Gin & Tonic: didn’t know about the LDS connection. too bad. I did know that founder Baden-Powell was a big ol’ racist and imperialist and militarist tho.

  18. 18
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @MomSense: :-)

  19. 19
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Aalto: thanks for catching that. Glad they’re still radical.

  20. 20
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: why camp? It’s a chance to be a little off the grid.
    Be more aligned with the cycle of the sun, not of the light bulb.

    Getting out of the city is it’s own appeal too. But if you already live in the country, perhaps it’s not as novel.

  21. 21
    Waldo says:

    I wish I’d learned to bake in Boy Scouts. Seriously. Baking is a practical skill you can use your whole life. When the f*ck am I ever going to need to set a snare or build a lean-to?

  22. 22
    Lawrence says:

    This is my daughter’s first year in Girl Scouts and she’s been to camp already. Got to try archery, which she seems to be good at, canoeing, climb a rock wall. And I dispensed many boxes of abortion cookies today. Eat up everybody. I don’t want to be the only fat fuck in this office. To be fair, I’m not the only one. Not even the fattest fuck anymore. But that’s not the point. MOAR ABORTION COOKIES!!!

  23. 23
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: I love camping even though I invariably sleep poorly, get eaten up by bugs and undergo endless hassles to stay adequately fed and hydrated. I can’t really explain it. Because it makes me appreciate home more? Allows me to test my mettle against Mother Nature? I can tell you this; there’s no better coffee on earth than a cup poured from an old-fashioned percolater heated over a campfire.

  24. 24
    catclub says:


    It’s a chance to be a little off the grid.

    Why is there a little video screen on the right on this page with Jesse Ventura going off the grid?
    That seems strange.

  25. 25
    ThresherK (GPad) says:

    @Hillary Rettig: She’ll feel so left out when the Ballad of the Brown Berets zooms up the charts.

    (Note to creative: Get Stan Freberg to write a parody of that Green Berets song. Oh, really? Then get me Shel Silverstein.Him, too?)

    You can catch a lot of women’s hearts by baking, I’ve found.

  26. 26
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Hillary Rettig: Yeah, but probably not any different than most other upper-class British gentlemen at the beginning of the 20th C.

    Scouting, boy or girl, isn’t for everyone, but some kids do well in it and learn self-reliance and how to work in a group. The “patrol method”, which is the methodological basis, puts a small group of kids of the same or very close ages together and lets them elect their own leadership, make their own plans, resolve their own disputes, etc. when you’re 12 or 13, this can be powerful in a good way. One good (or potentially bad) thing is that it’s pretty decentralized, so a good adult leader or two can go a very long way toward instilling the right values and leading by example. But that means that a bad adult leader can be damaging, and recourse difficult.

  27. 27
    ruemara says:

    I kinda need you lawyerly Juicers to ‘splain the ramifications. There was no actual vote to dismiss the officer in the Tamir Rice case? What does this mean?

  28. 28
    TOP123 says:

    @Hillary Rettig: look which arm she’s raising–she’s following the Anarcho-syndicalist line.

  29. 29
    gelfling545 says:

    My Girl Scout experience was terrific. We camped all the time & learned to build campfires, set up camp and cook – no lanyards entered into it. We hiked & learned animal & human first aid and sewing and map & compass reading and had any number experiences a bunch of working class girls would not have otherwise had. It was wonderful for me as I could have easily developed into a prissy little princess without it.

  30. 30
    trollhattan says:

    @Iowa Old Lady:
    To wake up and find this is my front yard. (An actual campsite, my front porch view is a bit off from that standard.)

    Plus, appreciate things like the bed, shower, fridge and yes, toilet a lot more when I get home.

  31. 31
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @Lawrence: :-)

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    We got to do some camping and woodsy stuff when I was in Girl Scouts in the early 1980s, so maybe it depends on your troop leader. I liked scouting but my troop leader (the mother of one of my friends) hated me, so it could be a little stressful.

  33. 33
    Hillary Rettig says:

    several guys commenting on the usefulness of baking and it’s specific usefulness for attracting a mate. YES. my partner and I actually dated 25 years ago and then reconnected 3 years ago. (I was 19!) Neither of us remember much from Round 1 except that it was fun. But I also remember his cheesecakes!

  34. 34
    catclub says:

    @trollhattan: Wow. Is that Yosemite?

  35. 35
  36. 36
    Aleta says:

    @Waldo: You didn’t get to wrap potatoes and stuff in foil packages, bury them in coals for two hours, and then blister the entire inside of your mouth in the dark, causing you to scatter the rest of the food in the dirt ? Or those lengths of bisquick wrapped around a stick and blackened until rock solid?

  37. 37
    NotMax says:

    In fairness, Boy Scouts have been known to engage in “Radical Self-Love” while in the great outdoors, merit badge or no merit badge.

  38. 38
    The Golux says:


    “Kicked out of the Webelos.”

    When my sons were Cub Scouts, the Cubmaster always pronounced “Webelos” as “We-blows”. Somehow I never got around to pointing out that it sounds less creepy with three syllables.

  39. 39
    joel hanes says:

    Seems almost unnecessary — the national Girl Scouts are about as liberal, accepting, and supportive of differences of all kinds as it is possible for a human organization to be. A very very sharp contrast with the Boy Scouts organization, which has many pockets of ossified Neanderthalism.

    Admission of bias :
    I helped the guide couple (my parents) take 22 Girl Scouts on a wilderness canoe trip into the Boundary Waters’ Brule Lake back in 1967.

    Then in 1969 I was kitchen/facilites staff at this GS camp :

    One of my sisters was waterfront director at that camp for three years.

    In the ’80s, my Mom worked with the national GS organization to re-write the leader and scout materials (manuals, program guides, standards) to eliminate various kinds of bias.

    In short: the regular Girl Scouts actually live their progressive principles, and have for many decades.

  40. 40
    joel hanes says:

    help help
    comment with link in moderation

  41. 41
    joel hanes says:


    wake up and find this is my front yard

    South side of Yosemite, around Rutherford Lake ?

  42. 42
    Botsplainer says:


    BSA local office leadership tends to be made up of underachieving, undercompensated dorks who pretend to network. The climate was one of great mediocrity of the sort to which middle America white males aspire in droves; incapable of promotion or advancement in real life, they collect totems of achievement in a fake world of award and recognition.

    My greatest moment of awareness came when I was about 12, at summer camp. Some salaried district exec with more adornment on his uniform than George S Patton sat at my table and was eating the disgusting swill that passed as food with us. He was pasty, overweight, twitchy, greasy, used hair oil to avoid washing it and had a bad shave. As he ate a bologna sandwich (one slice with industrial tub mustard, going slightly green on stale bread), he relished it and proclaimed it “good”.

    He wasn’t kidding in his reaction – he was enjoying that awful thing THAT much.

    All I could think was “God, what a pathetic asshole – I never want to be like him”. My time in scouts consisted of me having fun doing things I liked. I collected some rank not out of a desire to do so, but because I simply chased down stuff I enjoyed doing and got recognized for it. Did a pretty good job as Senior Patrol Leader when the last suckup kissass in my age demo ended his term – and truthfully, did a better job than the suckup kissasses did – there was no drama, and I had enough thug in me to get stuff done. Discovered beers, cars and girls before I ever bothered doing my Life service project, so I topped out as a Star after a trip where a couple of of us got scolded for having girls in our tents (ahem).

  43. 43
    joel hanes says:

    @Iowa Old Lady:

    sleeping in the dirt

    You’re doing it wrong.

  44. 44
    Aleta says:


    “Kicked out of the Webelos.”

    One of my housemates was kicked out of the Boy Scouts; there was a ceremony in front of the whole troop and his buttons were actually cut off of his shirt. (I wonder if that was standard practice, or if the leaders got the idea from “Branded,” that TV show starring Chuck Connors?)

  45. 45
    Botsplainer says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    One good (or potentially bad) thing is that it’s pretty decentralized, so a good adult leader or two can go a very long way toward instilling the right values and leading by example. But that means that a bad adult leader can be damaging, and recourse difficult.

    One dad who used to come camping looked at scouts as his opportunity for a “mini-vacation”. He’d hover under the mess-fly in blck socks, hard shoes, boxers and a wife beater, guzzling whiskey from the bottle all weekend and grumbling at kids to get away from the fly and trailer. His boys turned out about like what you’d expect.

    One of them is getting some legal work done here by a guy at my office, and was super excited to see that I work here. He insisted that he wanted to see me, and the guy doing his disability claim promised him he’d grab me one day. It was sad – the guy is yellow, missing teeth, and talking about events from middle school years as the best in his life. He topped out at about 13 – it all went downhill from there.

  46. 46
    currants says:


    I think I lasted two weeks.

    Yeah, I think I made only one meeting. What a disappointment to find they were just going to more of the things I already had to do at home, and NONE of the cool things my little brothers got to do.

    That picture–those girls, man, they lift my heart with possibility.

  47. 47

    thinking that I was going to get to go camping like the boys; then finding out that we were actually going to learn to bake and make lanyards.

    I think I lasted two weeks.


    Good for these young women. This is my kind of group. Would have loved it at 12.

  48. 48
    ruemara says:

    Anyone up for that Tamir Rice question?

  49. 49
    Mike in NC says:

    When I was in the 5th or 6th grade our scoutmaster urged all of us to wear our uniforms to school during Boy Scout Week. I was the only one to do so and was brutally rudiculed by classmates.

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:


    Kay or BellaQ are probably the best bets for an answer since they’re both lawyers in Ohio. I haven’t seen them yet today, though.

  51. 51
    ruemara says:

    @Mnemosyne: I hope they do. IANAL, obvs., but this sounds kinda illegal.

  52. 52
    imonlylurking says:

    @trollhattan: I haz a jealous. I haven’t been camping in ages.

  53. 53
    Hillary Rettig says:

    @NotMax: ok you win

  54. 54
    WaterGirl says:

    @Aleta: Wow. Not in a good way.

  55. 55
    HinTN says:

    @trollhattan: I want to be on that green verge across the water. Where are we?

  56. 56
    WaterGirl says:

    @ruemara: I am totally up for the answer. All I’ve got is “Un-fucking-believalbe – that can’t possibly be legal or ethical” and I’m pretty sure that’s not what you’re looking for.

  57. 57
    ruemara says:

    @WaterGirl: so it’s not just me then.

  58. 58
    joel hanes says:


    As trollhattan is not answering, I’ll guess

    Just south of Yosemite, on its “south wall”, is a north-south trending line of small lakes
    backed up with scenic granite peaks. If that picture isn’t one of them, it’s a look-alike.
    Access by ascending the Jackass Creek watershed from Beasores Road.

    Google maps “granite creek campground” or “clover meadows campground” or “Rutherford Lake”
    and then scroll out to get a feel for the location.

    If it’s not one of those, I’m guessing the Yosemite wilderness itself, or the adjoining Emigrant or Hoover Wildernesses.

    See Tom Hilton’s excellent blog “If I Ran The Zoo” for many, many comparable and well-captioned shots of virtually every high-country lake in the Sierra Nevada, the Trinity Alps, and the Marble Mountain Wildernesses. His pictures link to the same photo on flickr, whence you can download the full-resolution originals.

  59. 59
    Brendancalling says:

    Baden Powell liked boys.

  60. 60
    trollhattan says:

    Hi folks, sorry to not answer earlier. Pic was takes in Hoover Wilderness, just outside Yosemite’s northeast corner. Crown Lake, to be precise. Day two of a week-long flog that included my first and only mountain lion encounter.

  61. 61
    Darkrose says:

    We went camping when I was a Girl Scout over 30 years ago. I hated it, though I might have liked it more if my mom hadn’t been a chaperone.

  62. 62
    joel hanes says:


    Crown Lake

    Ah. On my Hoover backpack out of Twin Lakes, we stopped at Barney Lake, because one of our party was a seven-year-old boy.


    Yes, those are some high steep granite walls separating the lakes in the Hoover.

  63. 63
    trollhattan says:

    @joel hanes:
    Oh man, you have no idea. I stitched together a route that included intersecting the PCT, heading north to Tilden Lake (maybe the best kept secret in the entire Sierra) then XC over Tower Pass (hey, great day for a lightning storm) then Upper Piute Meadow and my biggest route-planning mistake, an XC “shortcut” from Buckeye creek to Barney Lake. The uphill bit worked, the downhill bit not so much. Hour upon hour of downclimbing and backtracking. But that’s where we encountered kitty, so there was that.

    Not often can one spend days in Yosemite and see nobody else.

  64. 64
    jefft452 says:

    “thinking that I was going to get to go camping like the boys; then finding out that we were actually going to learn to bake and make lanyards”

    I don’t know if my experience is typical, but as a boy I didn’t fare much better
    I had my dad’s scout manual from the 30’s
    It was full of Natty Bumpo type stuff like what kind of tree is best for snowshoe frames. It told you how to read semaphore flags. It even how to build a homemade radio receiver using common household items
    I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to join and learn all kinds cool (but admittedly not all that practical for 50s/60s suburbia) stuff
    First meeting, they took attendance and then played basketball
    OK, if I wanted to join a basketball league I would have done that instead of the BSA, but I guessed you couldn’t do the cool stuff that you couldn’t do outside of the BSA all the time
    2nd meeting, we had the Fire Dept give us a first aid lesson – OK, this is more like it
    Next 8 or 9 meetings before I quit – more basketball
    No camping, nothing that couldn’t be done inside a high school gym

  65. 65
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Botsplainer: Sounds like you had a fun time. :-)

    One of my scouting memories is winter camping at some local jamboree or something. There was supposed to be some big ceremony near the end, so some of the scout masters were using chain saws to make a big stack of wood for a bonfire for it. They spent lots of time on it and it was pretty big.

    When the time came to burn it, they couldn’t get it started. Even with some sort of nasty oil used as some accelerant. They never did get it to burn (they used green trees for the logs).

    Pretty sad when scout masters can’t build a fire. :-/

    (Who topped out at 2nd class.)

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    That one in the pink striped shirt has attitude to burn!

    Lookin’ good!

  67. 67
    Paul in KY says:

    @Aleta: I don’t think that was standard procedure. Surprised the kid went along with it (maybe thought they’d be a badass like Chuck Conners).

  68. 68
    Paul in KY says:

    Hope these young’uns have a great time & all grow up to be happy & proud Americans!

  69. 69
    bemused senior says:

    As should be obvious from the anecdata above, your scouting experience is as good as your leadership, and his/her support in the local scout association. I was a girl scout as a kid who had bad and good leaders. One of the good ones turned me on to camping. Earlier bad ones did nothing but craft projects. When I became a leader myself I took my troop camping, starting in my back yard when they were brownies. Since troop leaders are just moms of girls in the troop, it should not be a surprise that quite a lot of them have no knowledge of camping or outdoors skills look at some of the comments above about how icky camping is. I had to interest moms as much as girls in camping together enough chaperones for our trips.

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