Old Dominion University Libraries
Special Collections Home

Copyright & Permitted Use of Collection Search the Collection Browse the Collection by Interviewee About the Oral Histories Collection Oral Histories Home

The 8 interviews included in this collection were conducted for the Old Dominion University History course 495/595: "Recapturing Women's History: Local and National," taught by Dr. Dorothy Johnson in the Fall of 1982. Each interview includes a brief biographical sketch of the person interviewed and a typed transcript.

For over 50 years, Kathryn Noble Ogg was involved in the Girl Scout movement, among many other volunteer ventures. At 60, she earned a degree in history and women's studies from Old Dominion University. She would go on to earn three master's degrees. The interview discusses her background and her involvement in Girl Scouts. Also included with the interview is a biography.

Interview with

November 19 , 1982
Interviewer: Marcia Sergent

Listen to Interview


SERGENT: This is Marcia Sergent. I am interviewing Kathryn Ogg, November 19, 1982. Kathryn, when did you first become interested in Girl Scouts?

OGG: My first interest would have been in 1929, when I was a child in Baltimore, Maryland. The troop would have been a neighborhood troop... actually, I can’t remember a lot of details about that time, but I was a Girl Scout in 1929, and after my first year in scouting there, we moved to Norfolk. So, I have been a Norfolk Girl Scout ever since about 1930. The troop that I was a part of was a neighborhood troop and we did. . . the children at that time walked to our troop meetings so most of the activities were within the troop meetings. I don’t remember overnight camping and those type of activities that have become so much more popular in later years. The activities were at the troop meetings and we worked on badges, played games, and sang songs. And then, during my. . . to get into the camping part which has been, I guess, my major interest in later years.. .as a high school Girl Scout, I was a counselor at Girl Scout Day Camp which was at that time at City Park in Norfolk. There was a big wooden frame building with porches all around and my memory is of children running everywhere and hanging over the railing. The programs were mainly conducted in certain spots on the lawn around the building and the unit that I had. . .one thing that I remember is teaching basketry. When they asked me to teach basketry, I had never actually done any basketry, but as I have


found many times in working with children, if you can get the basic idea over to the children they can surpass anything that you can think of. I often think about the basket I was trying to produce to show them and the baskets they came up with after I had given them the soaked reeds. The baskets that they produced were with design and a lot of imagination. This has been my experience in a number of things. I have never been a singer, and of course, in the Girl Scout program there is so much singing. In High School I was very self-conscious about singing and the person who was orienting me to the program said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ Well, it turned out that the children...you just give them the basic idea... there’s always one or two children who are good singers, and they take over. So, in all these fifty years of scouting, any unit that I’ve ever worked with — any group of Girl Scouts that I have been associated with — have been good singers, and they’ve always been able to sing and it didn’t really matter how good the leader was. Of course, all the singing is always without music... you know, group singing, outdoors. Some of the best singing I’ve ever heard. So that one thing has been a sort of reassurance as you take a new idea or new job in working with Girl Scouts or almost any group of children. It’s a sort of trait that you understand as you go into other things. You’re willing to tackle other things because of this Girl Scout background where you do learn that the children come through and they have a lot of talent of their own. And you learn to let them be self-directed and do things on their own. The usual Girl Scout leader is a mother, maybe with no training ever in any kind of group work. A lot of


people are hesitant about being troop leaders because they are afraid and when you actually get into it you find out it isn’t that bad. But I can well remember how hesitant I was about going out and taking charge of a group of children where I had been part of a group. We didn’t have all the training programs in those days that you have now. Somebody just came and asked you to do something and you came and did it and sort of learned as you went. But it did work out well. I don’t really know the year that the camp moved from the City Park out to Forest Lawn Cemetery on Mason’s Creek, but they had a beautiful site out there in the back of the cemetery. I think about 1959, the camp moved from one site to another at Forest Lawn. It’s now right on the creek, on the water, and this particular site was the original mule farm for the city waste disposal units. That was where they housed the mules. It’s a lovely site. There’s room there for seven different units and the girls are in units— progressive from Brownies up to Senior Scouts. Then, the Cadettes are in the top-level unit and are able to become camp aides and help with the program. My participation early as a camp aide was just as a Senior Scout and going out and volunteering.

SERGENT: Which Camp are you talking about?

OGG: This is Camp Apasus which is still in operation on the third site. One of the big adventures over the years since the campsite moved from one area back of Forest Lawn to the area over on the water has been to take your group on a hike to the old campsite. This involved taking their lunch, carrying their juice, and teaching them how to prepare for the big outdoors. The camp is held in the summer and the children come with their shorts


and shirts. But when you go hiking through the woods - which it is a very wooded area — you teach them how to lather down with octagon soap to prevent poison ivy. You can just visualize the children having a fit when they have to lather up. ‘Is it going to hurt? Is it going to burn?’ They can’t believe that they put it on and let it dry and then when they go home and take their bath it washes off any brushes they might have had. They’re all instructed to wear long pants and shirts with sleeves on the day that they’re going to take this hike. But being the way people do things, the children still come with their shorts and little shirts and you do have to protect their skin. One of the really funny things that I remember was a leader once who had really no experience in the out of doors and she had read the Handbook that when you went on a hike all the things that you wore. And the morning that she was going to take her group over to the old campsite she came dressed like Teddy Roosevelt on a safari. This was a great amusement to everybody in the Camp but she was completely unaware of how unusual she looked. It was in the middle of the summer — so hot — and we all wondered how in the world she was going to survive this hike to the old campsite dressed with hat, scarf, and such heavy clothes. But she had read the textbook about what you wore in the out of doors and she came really prepared. It’s been several years ago but I chuckle every time I think about that.

SERGENT: Can you remember any reasons why you choose to be active in the Girl Scout movement rather than something else?

OGG: Well, I guess it was just a natural thing. I had been a Girl Scout myself and as my children.. . in fact, really the


first Girl Scout troop that I took charge of was a Brownie troop. My daughter was about two so when I went to meetings — we met at Lafayette School on Tidewater Drive in Norfolk — the co-leader that worked with me was a friend of mine who had a little boy. So we went to the meetings with my little Kathy in a stroller and Pearl with her little toddler into everything. We ended up with thirty-eight girls because neither one of us knew anything about saying our troop would only take so many children and that there are so many to a leader. We made valiant efforts during the whole three years we had the troop in the name of Mother’s Teas and programs and passing around lists of who would be another co-leader with us and so on. We just were not able to get the mothers... the excuses are myriad for not being able to participate. But everyone wanted their daughter in the Girl Scouts — the program has such a good image for girls and everybody wanted their girls in but didn’t want to be a leader. I did have that troop for three years and we had a very successful program. When my own daughter was old enough to be in Girl Scouts, I had a Girl Scout level troop. She had been in Brownies and she had gone to Camp Apasus with a group that the neighborhood sponsored. When she became Girl Scout age there was not a leader so I took the Girl Scout troop in my home because my husband’s Father had had a stroke and he was a bed-ridden invalid. I could manage the girls at home because I liked the program and was willing to manage it. I had twelve girls. The way I handled their camping experience was to see that every summer the whole group did go to Camp Apasus. Also, as many as whose parents were willing, went to


Camp Matoaka for the overnight camping. My own two daughters through all their Brownie and Girl Scout years went to Camp Apasus and to Camp Matoaka because they really enjoyed going. In about 1960, at the last minute, someone who was supposed to work at camp couldn’t work. The woman was a teacher and had an offer of a job teaching at summer school so she had to drop out. Someone called and asked me if I would be a leader. Well, you can imagine the trepidation of going into something once again not knowing exactly what’s going to happen. But I did go and at that time the units were set up with a leader and co-leader and you had four very competent camp aides. These were the Senior Scouts who had (many of them) come through the whole program at Camp Apasus. They were well qualified. The same old thing about the singing and the games, which are not my cup of tea, these girls were very well equipped for. And the things, the other management of the troop which I was competent in, would not have been their forte anyhow. So that year was a very successful year. I really enjoyed it and it’s a little representative of changes that have taken place in the Girl Scout program. Betty Apperson, who was the Director of Camp Apasus for twenty-five years and all of my early association with Camp Apasus, my children going there and then when I started working there myself, conducted a program that sort of enhanced the qualities of being a girl into womanhood and she just developed such a feeling of loyality and participation among these girls so the attendance at the camp was great. The children came back year after year. I don’t remember the exact year but at one point the Girl Scout program in general changed and they mandated


what they called "open—end situation" that you didn’t have... at camp up until then the program aides were assigned to a specific unit. They worked with a set of leaders for the whole time they were there and they got to know the girls. One of the experiences I’ve had is seeing how well the children who are seven, eight, nine, and ten years old relate to teen-agers. They just loved working with the girls. They sort of tolerated the mother leader because you’re still mothers and you’re saying don’t do this and don’t do that but they relate beautifully to the teen-agers in the program. So under the new mandate the program aides were to be in a program aide unit and they were going to be assigned out on a skill basis according to what skills they had. Through the years we have done that, I have never thought it produced the same program that was produced under the old system. That is one of the things that if I had any power, any ability. . . and everytime I fill out an evaluation sheet I comment on that. Because I feel that you can try new things but if you know something works better it’s really nice to be willing to give up the new thing and go back to the old. I felt like the girls who were the program aides developed certain qualities of leadership and taking responsibility when they were in one specific unit. They felt a relationship that they have not developed as general program aides and going out in the unit. It doesn’t mean that they haven’t done a good job under both situations and they seem to enjoy it. There has been a drop in participation of girls that age as program aides. I think this reflects a general trend of girls in their teens going to work and having summer jobs. There are many more


programs open to girls’ activities now. The public schools have started a program that they have... I can’t think of the name, it’s not going to summer school for making up work, it’s presenting new talents and new assets. They have play production, exploring the environment, and various scientific type programs and carpentry. The idea being that some children who take highly academic college preparatory courses don’t get into the shops and activities like carpentry and shop and so on. They present those as summer programs and they invite the children to come to summer school. So that has taken some children out of the Day Camp programs because the school programs run concurrently with the camp period. One or two years at Camp Apasus they did run a unit two weeks in August and they called it After School Camp to offer these children an opportunity to come. The girls that I have seen that have participated at Camp Apasus over a period of twenty years as a leader... after several years, there came a summer when they had a problem getting a first-aider or nurse to man the first aid station and they asked me if I would take it. Well, I was reluctant because I am a nurse and I work at a hospital and I felt like at camp doing summer activity I would rather do something different than what I do every day at work. I am a night nurse so I have been able to give the time — the month — every summer at camp. I leave work, go to camp, and sleep from 3:00 to 11:00 p.m. when I go to work. I did go ahead and take the nurse’s job and I really turned that into something that I enjoyed. I have had an opportunity to do several special programs. Last year, here at Old Dominion University, I was in a class with a girl who was a High School teacher


here from Japan. We had a local group of girls who were working toward a trip to Japan — the Japan bound bunch. For three years those girls did projects to raise money — they had Japan Fairs. So Hiromi, who was here from Japan came out to camp and taught the children how to do the folding paper, origami, and became interested in the Girl Scouts that were going to Japan and helped them with some projects. We started a program here at Old Dominion. The school allowed us a room and for seven weeks I brought my Junior Girl Scout troop, and the Japan bound group, and Hiromi taught them some expressions in Japanese. When she was first planning it she thought maybe it would be too much for the younger girls. It turned out that the first week the expressions she taught them. . .the next week when we came. . .and the interesting thing was that these children were at my door ready to come, on time, and for the whole time they didn’t miss a time they were so interested in what she was going to do. She taught them how to make the Japanese characters in writing and how to sound out the words. But the second week that we came out she just couldn’t believe when they just parroted back everything she had told them the first week. I, myself, had a little problem remembering, but the children came right along with it and Hiromi felt very pleased. So what we did with my own Girl Scout troop. . .not my troop, I was helping two younger women who are Old Dominion students and were actually registered as the leaders, but I was helping them because they did not have the experience as Girl Scout leaders... but we did work up a Japanese Culture Badge with the things that Hiromi taught, counting the language class. Verna Holman, who is a long time Camp Apasus


counselor and a very talented craft lady, came with the troop and helped us develop some Japanese crafts and she was also helping the Japan bound girls. We worked that into a big effort on our part to help the Japan bound girls at their Fair. We set up a booth and made a poster of the requirements for our badge. In the Girl Scout Book you have the directions for what they call a Scout’s Own Badge, and this Japanese Culture Badge was a Scout’s Own Badge for this group. We went to the third Fair that the Japan bound girls had and presented our booth. Each girl handed out a greeting, ‘kon nichiwa’ (hello), to everyone who came. So the people who came through were real impressed that the children could write this greeting in Japanese characters and that they actually knew what it meant and that they could respond when some people tested them a little bit. ‘And what else do you know besides that?’ And they would parrot out a word or two. Verna had set up the craft booth as part of the Fair and she had fish prints — you use real live fish and put India Ink on and then you press the paper on it and it makes beautiful prints. Well, the children came in looking just like you’re looking now when they saw the fish they were a little reluctant, especially the little Brownies, but as they walked around they saw somebody carrying their fish print around in their hand that was so pretty they’d come back. What they did was pay ten cents a child and she had a vegetable art group and then they had made wood cuts of Mt. Fuji and a Japanese temple and a Japanese lady and they could make their picture off the wood cuts. That presented the opportunity for the girls to do the Japanese crafts and also to help with the Japanese Fair.


The associations from camp are really wide spread. This Old Dominion student was able to come out and the children really responded to having someone come out with a talent like that. She let them all make the folding bird. They really enjoyed that. Then at the Japan Fair they also had the folding paper art and allowed the children to help them do it. This one small group benefited from that. These children also went to Camp Apasus. Any group that I’ve ever worked with, any Girl Scouts that I’ve ever known, I feel that they get so much out of going to camp, being away from their own home and I’m always impressed with the little girls... in recent years the children have been transported to camp by bus. They have neighborhood buses and they have a route and they’ve also innovated having the children come earlier. They are allowed to come at five and six years old and they call them pre-Brownies. So I’m always impressed with these little girls, five and six and seven years old, who will get on a bus at a bus stop where they live. They don’t have any idea who is going to be at camp. They know their Girl Scout leader where they go to a meeting. And the pre-Brownies haven’t likely even been to a meeting. But here they come on a bus out there and they’re able, in that two weeks, when we have the circle at the end of the two weeks (a thank you circle where we thank everybody) these little children are crying because it is the last day and hugging everybody, and to think that they could come and be that comfortable.. .well, I think they’re little women of courage in the first place to be willing to come out there on their own. One of the things that they have done for years is have a Mother’s Day on the last day


to show the crafts and so on. Well, at a certain point, they decided not to do that. I really don’t know just why they did, but they didn’t have that for several years. And now, I think I see more interest in groups like Girl Scouts. More concern of parents for their children being in these type of programs even though they themselves don’t want to do anything to keep it going. They see the need for it, so they’ve gone back to having the Mother’s Day on the Friday and the Fathers... a lot of the children are children of Navy parents and it has impressed me that the Fathers come and what they do. Each little group prepares a skit, they have a theme, and they present these little skits. They have an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do and they really enjoy that and the participation of the parents. Everybody was a little timid about saying parents come because they thought nobody would come. But they have come and they are very interested and particularly the Fathers coming and being interested and taking time off from work or whatever they have to do to be able to come.

SERGENT: When you were active in the forties was there as much emphasis on the world-wide scope of Girl Scouting?

OGG: Well, I think that’s always been one place that the world-wide scope has been emphasized. Since I have been coming to Old Dominion University taking classes in International Programs and become so aware of the Third World and the global perspective that we have now for the environment and there’s so many programs along that line. When I think back, the Girl Scouts have been talking about that all these years. Now it might be because Boy Scouting was started in England — Lord


Baden—Powell — and then when Girl Scouting came to the United States there was a little international flavor to it from the beginning. And it may be that the movement spread from England throughout the World with their empire set-up that may have something to do with it. But the Norfolk Girl Scout program has always been internationally oriented even if the troop only participated in the World Day in honor of Juliette Low and took a country. I remember a neighborhood Council meeting several years ago, when I had my troop. At the spring Neighborhood meeting, we met at Lakewood Park, and each troop would have a country and you did a little research and you made a banner of the flag of the country and you thought of ways to find some customs of that country and dressed the children, if you could, in the costumes. There has always been and it’s been good that we’ve been aware of, of course, Norfolk is a very cosmopolitan community. . . and I think this is an area wide interest now because there is so much emphasis on ethnic groups at different kinds of festivals, but the Girl Scouts were doing it for a long time.

SERGENT: Do you think that the Norfolk area was interested in the world-wide scope because of the military that was here, and the fact that they lived all over the world?

OGG: I wouldn’t know exactly how to analyze that because the Naval presence became so much more predominant about the time of World War II. There was probably always some emphasis, and I’m not really aware of how the plan went back of that, but after the 1940’s, when I was active as a leader and a planner more than as a girl participant, I think the fact that people were from so many places... and one of the things I think has had a lot to


do with this has been the fact that so many women who have participated in Scouting, even though they’re Navy and they’re coming and going, they have been so many places and when you want to have a world wide program there are always people who have material, who have information, who have pictures, and they make the programs more vital. I was invited to participate in a Girl Scout neighborhood program at Virginia Beach about two or three years ago because some of my Camp Apasus children were in a troop there and they were supposed to invite somebody and they asked me if I would come. Each troop had a country and they had samples of food and as you went around the tables... well, they had it at the Dome which is a big room and they were able to ring that complete auditorium with tables from different countries they have so many troops, and the middle of the room was just filled with people. Participation was really fantastic. They had the loveliest exhibits and they had pictures and artifacts, and the girls had costumes from different countries. So, I think that the experience of these Navy wives has probably had a lot to do with the quality of the presentation. There was the interest, for instance (in the troop that I had, we did not have anybody with this travel experience), in our neighborhood council we had everybody interested in looking into their country and they did it more like you do in school doing a research paper on a country and finding out what the flag looks like and what the people did. And the children would research things. It was that type. You have more types of input from people who have military association, but the period that we are particularly interested in; the forties, fifties, and sixties,


I think the military presence (and you have to think about the Army people and the Marines as general military presence here), but the Navy is predominant and that has spilled over into the Azalea Festival and the influence of the NATO Headquarters. The girls from Camp Apasus have on occasion gone over to NATO to participate in a flag ceremony. In fact, the Girl Scouts are invited many places to present colors and so on; to meetings, PTA meetings, and in my neighborhood I’ve had them at the Civic League, just to heighten the awareness of people that the Girl Scouts are a going concern all the time.

SERGENT: Can you give me some idea of what it was like to be a Girl Scout volunteer in the forties and fifties?

OGG: Well, the troop that I had first, other than working as a high school worker in the Day Camp program at City Park, was when I had the Brownie troop at Lafayette School and the people that I worked with in the Girl Scout program who were like neighborhood counselors and advisors were people who were dedicated. Some of them had worked in it a long time. Frequently, it would be someone who came from another area, another place, and who had background and could come in. But the same problem I see right through the years; mothers wanting their children to be in Girl Scouts... now, in the forties and fifties, it wasn’t because people were working.

SERGENT: What were the reasons?

OGG: See, this is the story now, that I’m working, and I always tell people, ‘Well, never give that to me as an excuse,’ because I’ve always felt like my children’s activities had to have some of my time and I’ve worked a good part of my married


life. Sometimes I didn’t, for a period of years when my children were small, I didn’t work. But as my children have participated in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, whatever, I have felt obligated to participate and my husband felt the same way, so we had no problem cooperating on that. But when I had the Girl Scout troop and the Brownie troop, it would’ve been in the early 1950’s. As Pearl Twiford, my assistant, and I called and talked to different mothers, you would not believe the excuses. ‘I just do not want to be tied down to anything I have to do every week. I don’t mind, any time you need refreshments I will be glad.. . if you need transportation I will be happy to help you.’ The excuses for not helping wouldn’t always be given as much as an offer to do some segmented part. ‘I’ll do this.’ ‘I’ll do that.’ But thereby letting themselves off the hook as being regular leaders. Well, some people would say, ‘Well, I just can’t manage children.’ I do have one deep feeling about persuading people against their will or to make them feel obligated to participate because their children are in Scouts because there are some women who are really not suited to be Girl Scout leaders and if they’re persuaded they really do not make good Girl Scout leaders and I think they hurt the program. So I think there needs to be perception on who you are persuading. I think a person who is good and just sort of willy-nilly about refusing and you see that if you could make the case just right you could persuade them, I think that’s well. But I have, over a long time, observed some people who come into the program. They’ve been made to feel obligated, or maybe they feel obligated themselves, but they are not good Girl Scout leaders because...


one thing, I see people who are too demanding of the girls. They challenge the girls too much. They don’t know how to adapt. One experience that I had when I had the Girl Scout troop in my home when my daughter was in her Junior Scout age, was to have a retarded girl. She was a girl who was able to go to school. She was not so retarded that she was badly handicapped. I would call her slow, I guess if I knew how to classify handicapped people I would say she was a slow child. I had allowed her as we worked on our badges when she worked, especially the written work was hard for her... but she was just a delightful participant in the program and her mother was so appreciative that we were willing to include her. In the last year that I had that troop I moved from one neighborhood to another and I made the bargain with the girls that were already in the troop that I would include them when I went to Ingleside where I live now. They immediately wanted Kathy and Charlotte to come into the troops there and I made the bargain with the leaders. I said, ‘Well, I’ll participate with you’all and put my children in if you will include my girls from the other neighborhood through this school year. Let them finish out school year.’ So the bargain was made. When it came time to award the badges at the end of the year they did not want to give this girl her badge - I think two or three things; one we had started before I moved, and something they were working on. So I was very irate because I said, ‘I have worked this out. I have studied the requirements and my interpretation of working with the group is if the girls work up to their capacity you cannot over-challenge people. There is a basic amount that you can


require certainly, but if the person is working up to their level of ability and really participating, they should have the badge.’ But as a consequence, I had to go to the Council to get them ordered to let the girl have the badge because that was really the interpretation. The women who were working with the group at that time were highly motivated very activist Girl Scouts and had a really excellent program. They did overnight. They did everything that you could do in a Girl Scout program and it was everything I approved of. I participated and helped them, but I did feel like there was this dimension of these people because if you eliminate this girl where is she going to go? I have never thought... well, I’m a believer in mainstreaming of handicapped people wherever possible, which is now a National policy. This was way before that and I feel that the Girl Scout program certainly should be able to handle a situation like that and their answer was, ‘Why doesn’t she go into a handicapped troop?’ Well, that wasn’t a very Girl Scout attitude on the leaders’ part but at least I believed enough. A little aftermath of that, this child lived across the street from my Mother who lived a little way from where I lived in Villa Heights. We had children who all went to Lafayette School so we weren’t necessarily all in the same exact residential area. But anyhow, in later years, my Mother had a letter from this child — my Mother and the child’s Mother were friends - and the little girl had married and gone to Germany with her husband in the Army. She had written my Mother a letter from Germany, just a friendly letter you know, to an old lady. My Mother said, ‘I know you’ll love to see this letter,’ the little girl her


name was Cookie, she said, ‘I know you’ll love to see Cookie’s letter.’ And just that bright shining letter of what she was doing in Germany made me feel so wonderful because her Mother had said several times just how much she appreciated the child being included because she had had a little problem at school not being included in various things even in school because of her handicap. But she was able to participate and enjoy it. So that’s one little happy memory that I have that I value and to know that. . .and a reason that I have for not persuading people to work in Girl Scouts who say they don’t want to do it and you think they really don’t, I would never persuade them even at the point of it being a real hardship to keep the program going to get people to be leaders. It is a problem and it was in the same period that we’re talking about, the forties and fifties, as it is today. The excuse then was not for very many people, there were not very many mothers working, I had not really thought about that, but they were not women who were working and they didn’t always give you a direct reason. There would be some who would say, ‘Well, I just can’t stand children and I don’t know anything about it and I’ve never had any experience.’ But there were many who would shove it off, turn it around by saying, ‘Oh, I’ll be so glad to help you with transportation. I’ll be glad to do this.’ And they felt like that was their valiant duty for the program.

SERGENT: What about the girls? What types of activities were they interested in?

OGG: They’ve always loved activities where you take them on trips, when you go camping. One of the things that I did with


my troop in Ingleside, was to work on the Citizenship Badges. I’ve been very interested in politics over a period of time. I took the children to the City Council meetings and they were acknowledged and received. And I took them to the General Assembly and met our Norfolk delegates and they were specially received. At the General Assembly, when you are sitting in the balcony, the House Speaker says, ‘I welcome Girl Scout troop so and so from Norfolk today,’ and the little girls just gleam and glow and the Mothers are ecstatic over that. And one of the projects that we did with the Ingleside troop, the city of Norfolk had — it would’ve been in the late, somewhere around the sixties, I’m a little bit bad on the years — they had a Keep Norfolk Beautiful campaign with prizes — I think the prize was $100.00. So, in Ingleside, at the Virginia Beach Boulevard corner there is a lovely land area with a nice lawn around it right on the corner of Ingleside Road and Virginia Beach Boulevard. There was a stand of old trees there. It looked to me that there might be a point where some of them might have to come down and there weren’t any trees coming up underneath to replace them, and I had visions of them putting something else there if the trees came down — such a nice, sort of a beauty spot as you ride by. So we made a plan that we would ask the city to put some planting there. So we made a design through this program (competition) and the Girl Scouts, when we called Mr. Huette, who was the Director of Parks and Forestry at that time, he said that his budget was mandated for three years. In other words, pre-issue requests would take all the money that they were going to have for any planting. But he said what you want the girls


to do sounds so good and something I would really like to do... He was thinking we could go to the City Council for a special appropriation. So I took the girls down to the City Council with their plan all written out and let the children present it themselves. The City Council granted the money for the planting. In the meantime, we coordinated this with a program through the Civic League for some other problems in Ingleside. The Ingleside School ground had a bad drainage problem. There was not adequate drainage and it was wet and soggy all the time. The children’s shoes were always wet. We had presented to the Citizens Advisory Committee; through the Civic League and the Girl Scouts and the Garden Club coordinating this, the plan for this drainage, and some traffic problems. There were about a half a dozen things we were trying to solve. So the Civic League lent their support to the Girl Scout request and the City Council did grant that money and it was... the total expenditure was several hundred thousand dollars for the drainage system and the planting. They planted camellias and azaleas and this is still a beauty spot as you ride by today. The Girl Scouts with their $100.00, we won the prize for the city, they bought the plants for the Squire’s Church, where the Girl Scouts met. At the corner of their property where it came on to the main road, was sort of hard dirt, broken glass, and so on. So we coordinated. The Girl Scouts bought the azaleas and camellias, the Garden Club bought a bench, the Civic League paid for three Dogwood trees and the Boy Scouts — one of the neighbors volunteered some dirt — went and dug up some top soil that he had in a wooded area back of his house. Then, the Cub Scouts went to a neighbor who had


a lot of pine needles and covered it with pine needles. So the Girl Scouts really directed that as a thank you to the Church for letting everybody meet there. This Presbyterian Church is very generous with their facilities and has been through this twenty or thirty years that I have lived there and worked with them. They let the Girl Scouts meet there, and the Boy Scouts, and the Civic League, and everybody. That is really still a beauty spot. We had one sad thing. The neighborhood destroyers would pull up the azaleas until they really didn’t survive. We had to plant more hardy shrubbery there. But the Dogwood trees are still blooming and the camellia bushes and the other shrubbery that was planted to replace the azaleas. I couldn’t believe it one early morning I was riding home from work and went by. Scattered over the whole area were these azalea plants where some kids had just gone and dug them up and thrown them all around. Of course, we replanted them a couple of times, but they didn’t survive. It really hurts when you think of the effort they had gone to getting the planting there. The ones up at the Boulevard survived because there’s not that much walking traffic past it. That was a project that turned out well and the girls learned about how the government processes worked and how you work through different agencies. Mr. Huette complimented them on coming to him with a project well thought out and with the approval of the whole neighborhood. He said one of his biggest problems with groups was one group would come and make a request for something and immediately someone else in the group would call him and say, ‘Well, the group has decided to do so and so but I don’t really think they


ought to do it.’ When he found himself in the middle, he would usually not do either because he could not be controversial. So that would mean the project just didn’t get approved. He really complimented them on their preparation. You asked what the girls really enjoyed and I have found that they do enjoy doing things that are for real. I mean, not all pretend. If they are making things they like to take the favors that they make to the hospital. We’ve gone through years of making tray favors for various hospitals and making toys for Kings Daughters. One of the things we did at Camp Apasus when Hiromi was coming out to teach the origami. . . I told you that I didn’t mind being the nurse because I could then do other things. Well, I offered to carry any girls in camp who were interested, through the World Games Badge because I liked that. One of the requirements was to do a game for the handicapped. So we made tic tac toe games on big pages the size of a sheet of art paper. We drew the tic tac toe game, then we made the X’s and 0’s out of big pieces. We put, at the top, Camp Apasus and Tic Tac Toe. We took the twenty or so that we produced down to Kings Daughters Hospital. The game being disposable, (we mounted the paper on cardboard), a child could enjoy it with a nurse or a visitor or a mother could play tic tac toe with a child. It would be big enough for the child to see it and they liked moving the figures around. The girls at camp enjoyed playing it themselves after they made them. One of the groups had done a wall mural as a project for one of their badges depicting Indian activities. It was just beautiful, so we took that down for them to put on the wall because if they left it at camp we don’t have anywhere out there


to display anything like that and it would just get rolled up and pushed from one spot to another. Going back to the International program. . . we had flags from every country and also a set of the United States’ flags and so depending on where the emphasis is, the children go around in a circle as we sing, ‘It’s a Grand Ole Flag,’ or some song like that and even with just the State flags, the visitors who come seem to enjoy. ‘Well, Oh! That’s my state flag!,’ as the children walk by and they enjoy that. So, they enjoy, I think, realistic things. One of the fun things I have working as nurse. . . there are not and I just am so happy about this, there have never been any serious situations in health or accidents, but the children come in the morning and they say, ‘I don’t feel good.’ And I say, ‘Did you talk to your Mother?’ ‘Oh, yes. But she said to check with you when I get to camp.’ There’s no thought of them staying home because they don’t feel good, but they come out here and I don’t know how they think we’re going to make them feel better immediately, but it does get the children, if they’re a little reluctant about getting on the bus, out the door. I always use a large supply of band-aids because they come to me with every little pin prick. There will usually be one or two that after the first day or two, I know they will be there every morning and every afternoon. They have a mosquito bite and they’ve got a little scratch and they’ll come up with some place on their knee and they’ll want me to take care of it. And I’ll say, ‘When did this happen?’ ‘Well, it was two weeks ago, I fell off my bicycle.’ But they still want me to do something about it. They just love the attention. It really always makes me think


of little women because women are very health conscious and doctor conscious and this is early evidence of this trait that we have and they know well what the nurse’s station is. I have a little piece of metal with white background and a red cross on it designating my little area. What I have is a cot and a chair and a cabinet with supplies so I can fix an ice pack. We have an agreement with DePaul Hospital that any emergencies would be taken there. The main thing I would take children there for are bites that do have more of a reaction than I think is expected. The reason for taking them there is to have it documented and the mother made aware that they must watch them for future problems and then to make sure it’s not going to go into any more reaction. I think there is going to be more awareness as they cut back so much on insecticides. There are going to be more bites and there will be more awareness of emergency preparation for bites. In the twenty or more years that I’ve been there, there has never been like a really tragic thing and I hope there never is. The reason for that... I give all credit to the way the Girl Scout program is run. You have a planned program, you have the children occupied, and they’re not... we say don’t run. This is one of the camp rules. And so you find yourself saying to the child, ‘Run get me so and so.’ It’s just part of our regular conversation. But the program is safety oriented and I think that it shows it has paid off.

SERGENT: Back in the early forming years of this Council, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, would you say that the city of Norfolk cooperated with the Girl Scout movement? Did they give them problems


or did they enhance the movement?

OGG: Well now, I’ve always been aware of great cooperation. I’ve never been aware of any lack of cooperation. The land that, I’m not sure about the land at Camp Matoaka which is in Suffolk, but I know that land that Camp Apasus is on is part of city-owned property and I’m sure that they allow the Girl Scouts to use it. The Girl Scouts don’t own that property. I know on several occasions... there was the expansion of the cemetery. It pushed the Girl Scouts off one site to another. Well, the site that they’re on now. . . I can’t see any way that that would be suitable for burials because it is on the water’s edge and the trees are there but expanding the cemetery that much further wouldn’t give them that many more places for burial so I don’t see any threat. I have taken the precaution when people are running for City Council...on my personal initiative and knowing that things come up that you never know are going to come up and you don’t always hear about it publicly. It could be an issue and I won’t even know about it... so I have mentioned to each person that I was supporting, that if it ever comes up, anything about the use of that land, I hope that you would support the Girl Scouts. I think that Girl Scout groups need to be politically knowledgeable about how the government functions because there are times that it’s important to know. For instance, the work with handicapped children. If the Girl Scouts have a handicapped program the Tidewater Association for Retarded Children has made good use of political savvy in getting facilities and funds and the Girl Scouts can get funds for certain programs if they know


how to apply. Where you would be raising the money for it, you could use your money which is limited for something else. The Girl Scout program in Norfolk is supported to a great extent by the United Way and I use this even at the Hospital where I work when somebody says, ‘Well, I wouldn’t give to the United Way. I don’t believe in anything they are doing.’ I say, ‘Well, have you ever had a child in Scouts?’ ‘Why, yes.’ I say, ‘Do you realize that the basic professional staff is paid for by the United Way?’ So I feel myself when I give my contribution, my share of my salary to the United Way, that I am just paying for services that I am getting. I am a great supporter of the Blood Bank. I tell people that if they didn’t give to the United Way for any other reason, it’s just to guarantee that they are going to get a blood transfusion when they need it. You pay insurance nowadays for anything so if you are not oriented to helping anybody else in the world, you can say, ‘I’m buying this for myself and I’m going to have some blood when I need it.’ Working in the situation that I work in and seeing how blood is used now so much in prevention, more so than just as a last ditch stand — giving blood transfusions — and a unit of blood is broken into so many components to help in certain diseases on a palliated basis. So I find the Girl Scouts, and my two sons who are Eagle Scouts (so I am about as addicted to the Boy Scout program as I am to the Girl Scout program), and I find that the contribution that I make to the United Way I have gotten back in services to myself, whether to the community or not. One time when I was a Neighborhood Coordinator for the United Way in my neighborhood, I was able to line up workers…


they used to have women’s drives and they went door to door. They don’t do that too much any more because everybody works and they weren’t really getting that much money in and people can send the money in if they want to. But when I was lining up the women I was able to get them to go just on the basis of all of them being associated with Girl Scouts. Where they would turn me down at first, as soon as I would confront them with the fact that their girls were in the Girl Scout troop and that if we did not have the United Way support we would be having to raise that money along with everything else. You were asking about changes. I think probably one of the biggest changes in the Girl Scout program here has been the permission to sell Girl Scout cookies. For years the policy of United Way would not allow any participant in funds from the United Way to do any other money raising. So the Girl Scouts were not allowed to sell Girl Scout cookies and people from Richmond would say, ‘Well, golly! We sell them!’ But the Norfolk policy was when you gave to the United Way you were assured that those agencies would not be soliciting you for other money and they were very hard-nosed about it. I don’t know just what year that changed or how it came about, but we are now selling Girl Scout cookies... we sold the calendars for years, I think that was maybe the one commission they were allowed. But with the cookie sales the revenue has been... it’s a better situation because they really need the money and since the program and everything has gotten more technological and more organized, and it costs money for printed material, for records, and all those aspects of the program, it makes the Scout Council just have to have money.


Another activity of the Scouting program here that I have not had very many dealings with but I am very happy to see is the participation of the Girl Scouts in wider opportunities... going out to National Center West, going out to other countries, the Girl Scouts going to Japan, and there is a projected trip now to Mexico. I think these are getting back to what I was saying earlier that they do like realistic things, they like to do things that are active, and they don’t really like to just sit in circles and be good for an hour because they are doing that in school all day. I think that the successful Girl Scout program is one that isn’t just a continuation of school activities. This is the trait and the basic reason I think that I have been so interested in Scouting for my own children. From my own experience there’s certain facets of your development that take place in this type of participation that you do not get from your parents. You don’t get it from your school. The school is mandated, you have to go. This is voluntary, it develops qualities of leadership. The information that these children get working on badges they wouldn’t get otherwise and they are doing it because they want to be and they are so innovative in the things that they do. One of the things that we do at Camp Apasus that I love, is Indian lore. I did not know until I was carrying the Girl Scouts through that badge that nearly all of our states are named after Indian tribes. One of the requirements for the badge is to list the states and I was really overwhelmed when I started writing down all these states that are named after Indian tribes and when you see the depth of this culture in our country, to just keep that alive


I think is very important, and I think the children appreciate that. So the qualities that you develop being a scout I don’t see anywhere else. Just learning fire building is under good habits because the children who have learned proper procedure when they go with their families camping — that’s where I see that it’s a practical thing. When their family doesn’t know a thing about fire building they are going to have that little bit of knowledge and even in their backyard fire building they have their little safety consciousness that they wouldn’t have otherwise. One thing that I found with my own children is that you can say something one thousand times and it doesn’t even register. But if the baseball coach, or the Boy Scout master, or the Girl Scout leader said this is a good practice, it’s brought home as ‘Well, where have you been Mother? Why haven’t you learned that in all this time?’ I remember one of my sons coming home talking about eating some certain food — I forgot now just what it was — but he came home all business-like, ‘We better start doing so and so around this house!’ And I said, ‘ Well, where have you been, Sandy, that this is something new?’ ‘Well, Mrs. (whatever the teacher’s name in their health class) had said so and so and this was what we were going to have to start doing.’ But you have to let them go along thinking that you never heard of it before and that you are going to start doing it. Such a simple thing as smoking. My children haven’t smoked. My two boys have been participants in neighborhood ball teams and on up into college, being on their college football and baseball teams. They’ve never smoked and I know that it wasn’t that my husband and I didn’t smoke but it was these men who taught them that you


do not smoke. They just were so busy with their sports and with their camping trips and so on they never developed the habit. So, I feel like those are directions that come out of the Scout programs that I don’t see anywhere else that quite fills the bill.

SERGENT: I know that currently you are still working at Norfolk General Hospital and I know that you are a student here at Old Dominion University. What do you see in your future?

OGG: Well, one of the things that has developed very interesting right at this point, I am, of course, a graduate of Norfolk General Hospital School of Nursing and that’s a diploma program. There’s a tremendous push in the nursing profession for people to have baccalaureate degrees, so I came out to Old Dominion taking classes, not really interested in any degree. In International Programs they have many seminars and short term courses that you can take, and I became very interested. The way they hook you on these things is that at one class they hand out the program for the next class so there you go. So, for two or three years now, I have been taking the International Programs classes and I somehow became interested in the Women Studies classes which is a new offering here and I see so much new information and really, the acknowledgement of women needing to study their history is sort of a 1970 — 1980’s phenomenon. So I decided to get my degree...I have accumulated enough credit hours that they say I must get into a degree program. . . so I have decided that I will go into the program of Interdisciplinary Studies with a major in Women’s Studies and an interest in International Programs. I’ve already completed nearly all the International Programs classes and they have a Certificate which


I’ve already earned and that would be part of this degree program. But in order to get into this program you have to make a statement of what your purpose is for being in it. So in 1980, I had gone to the National Business and Professional Women’s Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, and I visited... anywhere I go I look into what the Girl Scouts are doing there. . . so I had called ahead and made an appointment to see their Girl Scout Day Camp and I was really delighted. I met the Director of the Camp and she drove me out to their Camp which is quite a way out of town and it is on fifty acres of ground, beautiful rolling farmland. The Forest Ranger’s station is on their campsite. The thing that interested me was that the people of Omaha, the Girl Scouts, and the local community have an agreement. This Day Camp program is run to help with their child care for working women. They open their camp the day school closes and close it the day school opens, so that all through the summer working women can count on this camp. They run a little longer in the day than we do in Norfolk. I came home from there really seeing a wonderful contribution that the Girl Scouts could make to Norfolk for a Day Care program. At the hospital where I work, Norfolk General Hospital had at one time experimented with a child care program. They had a great shortage of 3:00 — 11:00 p.m. nurses so they instituted a Day Care Center there for these nurses. It finally turned out to be way too expensive for the number of children they were taking care of so they have disbanded it. But the need is still there. On the Phil Donahue Show the other morning, there was discussion about what they call latchkey children and they even interviewed children. The thing that


interested me was a fact that I had never thought of; the children’s main concern through the whole program was that they were afraid when they were left at home. This has never come through to me. I’ve heard of all reasons for children not being left, but the children were afraid, One little girl said that her mother left her breakfast prepared for her. . . a lot of times mothers have to leave earlier and all different reasons these children are there by themselves.. . the child was so afraid, the minute the mother left the house, she would get ready as quickly as she could and go over to the school where other children would be. Doing without the breakfast, too afraid to even stop and eat the breakfast. When I visited the camp in Omaha, I was so impressed with their facilities. They have more room than we do, but they do not have any better general program. They do not have any better possibilities for instituting a program than we would here. So, I have stated as my Senior Project that I want to explore a cooperative agreement between the hospital — and I have spoken to people at each place to get myself before I go into all the preparation to be sure it has possibilities — with Mr. Mitchell at Medical Center Hospitals and with one or two people here at Old Dominion and with some of the people at the Girl Scouts — that we would institute that at Camp Apasus. Our program at Camp Apasus at the present, runs for two two-week periods of Girl Scout camping. The program is open to non—Scouts. The Girl Scouts have instituted that. That’s a change in these last few years. They’ve opened it to non—Scouts through the Girl’s Camp Fund program. The change would be to have the day a little longer and run the


program for the whole summer. I’m going to do the research as my project for this degree and my purpose in doing it at this time is that at the age of sixty—three, I am at some point, going to retire. I still feel great and love doing the things that I do and I love the Girl Scout program so much and in a way, I feel like I’m saying thank you back for all that it’s done for my children and part of the time when my children were getting so much out of Camp Apasus, I couldn’t work there and one summer recently, in fact, for two years (the last couple of years), we’ve had really a three generation. My daughter was a counselor, I was the nurse, and my granddaughter was a Girl Scout there. So there were three generations of us at Camp Apasus. I am going to do this project... see what I want to have the ODU cooperation by getting professors who have students in different child activities, schools, or recreation, set up some required summer course where the student could do their study at Camp Apasus and render the service and maybe even look into it as an opportunity for some student to earn some money by being paid staff. There would have to be some paid staff. In Omaha, they do have part paid, but the bulk of their people are volunteers. There is a renewed interest now in making character building organizations like the Girl Scouts, constructive and on—going. So this is going to be my degree project and continue my big interest. Then I would be willing to be involved in it. I can be involved whether I retire or not because I’ve been giving the month every summer anyhow and I would be very particular about the people who direct it. That it be the kind of program where children will come in and be happy..... just that one


Donahue program which I’m going to try to get a copy of... to answer the needs of the children as well as the fact that the mother has gone to work — that she needs somewhere for the child to be so she knows where they are because some of these children commented on Day Care Centers. One little girl said she would rather be at home by herself than to be in the Day Care Center because there was so little control of the activity that the children felt endangered. She had been hurt by being shoved by somebody. It depends on the attitudes and aims of the people you get into the program, so I would think that the selection of the people would be very important. If I were involved in it that would be very important to me. I think this business of screaming at children and yelling — you really get to that point. For instance, when I had a unit at Camp Apasus there would be two co-leaders and thirty—six children and you divided them into patrols — carried your regular Girl Scout government set—up with the patrols and patrol leaders and let them do as many things as possible. And now, one of the changes in the new program was to allow more girl participation and decision. So when you’re going to keep the girls out overnight, you let them plan the menu. Well, the way I thought that worked was you sort of brainwashed them. You said, ‘Don’t we all want to do so and so?’ They discourage, for instance, chocolate. You try to have certain health foods. Well, when you say to the girls just out, ‘Well, what would you like?’ Everything they list is something that is either too expensive or it’s what you are not trying to teach them to have at camp. The first time I was really going to let them select, I had said, ‘Don’t we want to do so and so?’ Well,


I had some innovative Girl Scouts who said, ‘Well, we’d rather have chocolate pudding.’ And I said, ‘ Well, you don’t really want to have chocolate pudding, wouldn’t you rather have so and so?’ So we worked it around that we decided on the other, but these little girls never gave up on the fact that they didn’t get to have their chocolate pudding. It’s gone through my mind several times that it would’ve been better if we’re saying — what are we really saying? What are we trying to promote? The good health foods or their learning? They do not have a learning experience if you direct them too much. If you’ve been of the old school and done things a certain way, it’s very hard for you to change. But the children push it through eventually. They have a hard time with us and I’ve found out with children, they have usually figured us out about two weeks before we figure them out, so when we think we’re having our way a lot of times they’ve just decided well, we don’t really care anyhow, we’ll let her do it her way.

SERGENT: It sounds like you are going to be busy.

OGG: Well, I think that it’s very important now with the cut back on funds, federal and state, and the problems that we’re going to be facing immediately. It’s very important to be very practical about what we do and if the Girl Scouts with their good structure -- which is the one thing they have that a lot of other groups do not have — if they can offer this structure toward solving community problems. One interesting thing back in the Tricentennial, Lucy Salzburg, who is now the Council Director, was the leader of a Senior troop. They had a project of searching


for women in Girl Scout history, very much like we are searching for women’s history today. They asked each troop to find someone who had worked in scouting a long time and interview them. The woman who was the outstanding woman that they selected was Mrs. Denton, wife of Admiral Denton. She had been active in Girl Scouts in Virginia Beach so she was. . . but the little booklet they came out with was called, ‘Hidden Heroines.’ What the girls did was to come with their tape recorder and interview you, just like we’re doing today, about what you had done in scouting and then they made a little summary of that and that is what is in the book. There were two troops that interviewed me and it was really quite an experience to see them putting on this project, carrying it through, and then instituting a series of seminars where they invited women to come. They asked me to come and talk about women in politics because I was so interested. On the same panel that I attended, Mary Frances Morrisette, who was the original Director here of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and one of her great contributions was the institution of school programs and Girl Scout programs in the SPCA. They had set their programs up so that if a Girl Scout troop wanted to do a pet badge there were certain things they could work out with the SPCA to earn their requirements. She was just such a typical Girl Scout person — direct, you had to do the job well, and was a good leader for the children. She did the same thing...she instituted taking animals into the schools, in the classroom and so on. They do that in Norfolk with the police dogs. The policemen come with the police dog and teach children how they take care of the animals. But


Mary Frances was one of their hidden heroines. Most of the people were like myself. They were known to a few people here and there but they did come out with a really nice little book and it’s interesting to read through it and see the people who have been working in scouts up to 1976.

SERGENT: It sounds like you’ve had an interesting history.

OGG: One thing I did want to say, when I was in Baltimore... this goes way back, from ten years old you don’t remember a lot of things, but one of the things that I remember we did was go to the White House when Herbert Hoover was President and the memory that I have is sitting in a circle on the floor... this lovely soft carpet, beautiful room... and we were served punch. Mrs. Hoover stood in front of the group and said she couldn’t come around and shake hands with all of us because she had a broken arm and she showed us her arm with a cast. That’s a pleasant memory since I’ve turned out to be a Republican and when I think back on it, what it did was emphasize that we do have a National Director, Leader, that is interested. It’s nice when these women make something of the Girl Scouts and she did.

SERGENT: I want to thank you for sharing your life with me.

OGG: It’s been interesting and a real pleasure.

Interview Information

See her Obituary from The Virginian-Pilot.

Top of page