Women who quit or — gasp! — were ejected from Girl Scouts no longer need to hang their heads in shame. These craft rebels and alternative-minded campers now have a club to call their own: the Girl Scout Dropout social networking group.
It launched Thursday night at a boisterous party in the basement function room of Grace restaurant in Portland.
Artist and writer Sandi Amorello is the creative force behind this project. Amorello, who lives in Cape Elizabeth, is best known for her Irreverent Widow art installation and associated grief support group.
Calling the new group the “naughty Girl Scouts,” Amorello told me, “I’m not trying to put the Girl Scouts down.”
Instead, she wants Girl Scout Dropout to be a place for women (and men) to meet new people, share stories and possibly even bond over campfires.
Amorello, who was a member of a Girl Scout troop in North Hill, N.J., dropped out after failing to obtain her cooking badge in fourth grade.
“I started adding Girl Scout Dropout to the bottom of my email after my husband died,” Amorello told me.
She’d even include this cheeky reference in emails sent to attorneys and other professionals as her husband’s estate was being settled. On occasion, she’d get a formal reply from a secretary or assistant with a P.S. at the end of the message, saying, “I’m a Girl Scout Dropout, too.”
“I realized I’d tapped into this network of people with this in common,” Amorello said.
When she addressed the crowd, Amorello said, “It’s about following your heart and not playing by the rules. The one thing (her husband) Drew’s death taught me is life’s too short to care about what others think of you.”
She also told us that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Girl Scout Dropout badges, T-shirts, wine glasses and other merchandise will fund the Irreverent Widow grief support work.
Some of the dropouts at the party had no trouble recalling their Girl Scout days.
“Troop 281 Brownie, Auburn, Maine,” Julie Emerson of Cape Elizabeth told me without hesitation. “I was a Brownie, but never a Girl Scout.”
In a similar vein, Paula Lundgren of Saco told me: “I was in Brownies, but I never made it to Girl Scouts. I have Girl Scout envy.”
Still, not everyone at the party was an official dropout. Jean Murachanian and Alison Parsons both made it all the way through Girl Scouts.
“It was a social group,” Murachanian said. “I liked the trips.”
They both hope to find similar fellowship in the Girl Scout Dropout events.
While the group’s name suggests otherwise, men are welcome to become part of the club.
“I had the honor of being the first male to join,” Joe Duley of Portland told me. “I’m proud, and I’m hoping to get in on the cookies.”
A number of people I spoke with shared ideas for the group’s future.
South Portland resident Wes LaFountain told me: “She’ll need to make room for den mother dropouts.”
Greg Daly, who helped Amorello launch the website, had another idea. “I see this blowing up as a hipper, younger, less conservative version of the Red Hat Society,” he said.
Fashion designer Meredith Alex, whose couture line runs toward the hip and offbeat, had her own ideas about where to take the concept.
“I’m waiting for ‘Girl Scout Dropout: The Musical,’ ” Alex told me.
“I’m definitely doing the costumes. They’d all be wearing green fishnets.”
Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: