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Wild West was a Brownie Try-It from the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey Council.

Requirements: In the early years of the United States of America, many people and families headed West to start new lives. Some farmed and others went to search for gold. This same land was the home of many Native American tribes. Learn about the lives of pioneer and Native American children by doing the following activities. (Many of the activities came from Family Fun Magazine.)

Make Wagon-Churned Butter[]

Pioneers tied sealed pails of milk to their wagons as they headed West. The long, bumpy ride turned the milk to butter. You can make your own butter in a similar way and enjoy it on bread as a snack at your troop/group meeting.
You will need:
  • Plastic container with tight-fitting lid
  • Pint of heavy cream (NOT WHIPPING CREAM)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Three marbles
Fill the container halfway with cream. Add three marbles and a pinch of salt. Put the lid on tightly. Shake the container steadily for 10 minutes. (Pass the container on to the next Brownie Girl Scout when you get tired of shaking.) Soon, it will thicken and turn into butter. Don't forget to remove the marbles before using the butter.

Learn Skip to My Lou[]

This is a dance game that pioneer children used to play. One child stands in the middle of a circle of paired dancers. At the end of each verse of the song, the girl in the middle "steals" someone from a pair. The new partners skip around the circle while the others sing and clap in time. The new single child then goes to the center of the circle for the next verse.

—>Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou Skip to my Lou, my darling.<—

—>I've lost my gal, now what'll I do? I've lost my gal, now what'll I do? I've lost my gal, now what'll I do? Skip to my Lou, my darling.<—

—>I'll find another one, purtier too ... I'll find another one, purtier too ... I'll find another one, purtier too ... Skip to my Lou, my darling.<—

—>I'm right upset, say what'll I do ... That boy wears a number ten shoe ... Flies in the sugar bowl, shoo, fly, shoo. Bears in the pantry, boo, boo, boo... Mules in the cellar, kicking up through. Pups in the buttermilk, what'll I do... Cows in the cornfield, two by two... Skunks in the parlor, phew, phew, phew.. Cat in the cream crock, skim him through. We'll keep it up till half past two ... I'll get her back, in spite of you ... Hurry up slowpoke, do, oh, do...<—

Play Hoop and Spear Game[]

Native American children were often taught survival skills through playing games. This game teaches speed and aim.
You will need:
  • 14-inch wooden embroidery hoop
  • 3 pieces of yarn in different colors (one should be 6 feet long, one should be 3 feet long and one should be 1 1/2 feet long)
  • Wooden dowel (3 feet long)
  • Markers
Mark the outside of the embroidery hoop with five evenly-spaced pencil marks (8 1/2 to 9 inches apart). Tie one end of the 6-foot yarn around the embroidery hoop at one of the pencil marks. As you hold the knot in place, stretch the yarn to the next pencil mark. Loop the yarn around the hoop and then around itself three times, pulling it taut. Repeat these steps at the remaining pencil marks and then bring the yarn back to the original knot and tie together to make a pentagon shape. Cut off the excess string. Take the 3-foot piece of yarn and tie one end at the center of any side of the pentagon. Repeat the looping process, creating a second pentagon within the first. Repeat the process again with the 1 1/2 foot piece of yarn. Decorate the spear (dowel) with markers.
To play, hang the hoop from a tree or the ceiling in an open area. Aim and throw the spear through the hoop. Win 5 points by getting the spear through the outer openings of the hoop. Win 10 points for the next row of openings, 25 points for the next row of openings and 100 points for the center or the bulls-eye. (Remember to be careful and keep everyone away from the hoop while the spear is being thrown. You can make a spear for each girl or just have one spear for the troop.)

Make an Old-Fashioned Letter[]

You will need:
  • Paper
  • Pencils, pens or crayons
  • Sealing wax (available at stationary stores)
  • Sealers (coin, Brownie Girl Scout Pin, spoon handle, signet ring, etc.)
Make your own old-fashioned letter by writing one or drawing a picture. Then fold it in thirds and seal it with wax. Make a design on the wax while it is still soft by using one of the sealers.

Learn About Horses[]

Horses were one of the major forms of transportation in the Wild West. Visit a horse stable/farm and learn about the care, grooming, and feeding of these animals. (You might also try horseback riding. Be sure the stable is an approved one and that you wear riding helmets. Your Council can give you a list of approved stables.)

Make an Apache Headdress[]

Headdresses were used by Native Americans to act out the role of spirits when preparing for hunting, healing the sick, celebrating marriage and appealing for a good harvest.
You will need:
  • Ruler
  • Newspaper
  • Pencil
  • Large sheet of poster board
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Elastic string (about 14 inches long)
  • Feathers
Make a pattern for the headdress by using the ruler, newspaper pencil and scissors. Using the newspaper pattern, trace two headdresses on the poster board (one for front, one for back). Then cut it out and decorate it with animals and abstract designs. (You might want to get a book on authentic Apache designs to use.) Staple the two pieces together into a cone shape, stapling top and bottom. At the top edge staple feathers around the top of the headdress. Knot both ends of the elastic string and staple at the bottom of the headdress to fit under your chin. Stuff the headdress with a few paper towels or rumpled newspaper to help it keep its shape.
You can use these headdresses to act out a scene where a lone warrior falls to the ground under the influence of an evil spirit. Medicine men (or Medicine Girls) come out to defeat the spirit and revive the warrior.

Useful information on the Apache[]

Apache - The name Apache comes from the Zuni word apachu, meaning "enemy." Their own name for themselves is N'de or Dineh, "the People." In the early 1500s, a group of Athapascan-speaking people drifted down from their original home in western Canada into what is now Arizona, New Mexico and the Four-Corners area. They were split into smaller tribes and bands, including the Lipan, the Jicarilla (from the Spanish for "little basket," referring to their pitch-lined drinking cups), Chiricahua, Tonto, Mescalero, and White Mountain Apaches. The Apache were a nomadic people and lived in conical brush shelters (wicki-ups) to which they often attached a ramada (four upright poles roofed over with branches). They hunted and gathered wild plants; much later they also began to plant corn and squash. They usually dressed in deerskin and wore their hair long and loose, held by a headband. Men also wore long, flapping breechcloths. Their soft, thigh-high moccasins were important in a land of chaparral, thorns and cacti, since they were primarily runners of incredible stamina rather than riders (though they acquired horses early and were excellent horsemen). Their main weapon was the bow, and it was used long after they used guns. Apache women wove particularly striking baskets some made so tightly that a needle could not be inserted between their coils. They carried their babies on cradleboards. Women played an important role in family affairs: they could own property and become medicine women.
Athapascan - Athapascan refers to a language group, and it represents the most far-flung of the original North American tongues. Athapascan dialects or related languages are spoken by people in the interior of what is now Alaska, on the western coast of Canada, among some tribes in northern California, and by the Navajo and Apache of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
White Mountain Apache Legend: The Origin of Curing Ceremonies - This is how ceremonies started among us for the curing of sick people. Long, long ago, the earth was made. Then the One Who Made The Earth also planned for each person to have a piece of land that he could live on and call his own. Our people were living in one such place, but they didn't like that particular spot. So the One Who Made The Earth told them to move to a new location. When they did, they slept well, and liked it, and lived in a good way. Then two men among them became sick and grew weaker day by day. The people didn't do anything for them because no one knew then about illnesses and how to cure them. The One Who Made The Earth said, "Why don't you do something for those two men? Why don't you say some words over them?" But the people had no knowledge of curing ceremonies. Four men among the people happened to be standing, one to the east, one to the south, one to the west, and one to the north. The One Who Made The Earth spoke to one of these men, telling him, "Everything on earth has power to cause its own kind of sickness, make its own trouble. There is a way to cure all these things." Now this man understood that knowledge was available. Then those four stood there. On the first night, the one standing to the east side began to chant a set prayer all by himself. On the second night, the one on the south started to drum and sing lightning songs. On the third night, the one on the west chanted a set prayer. On the fourth night, the one on the north began to drum and sing lightning songs. They did not conceive this pattern in their own minds; it was bestowed upon them by the One Who Made The Earth. It was as if the knowledge of what they should chant or sing had suddenly been transmitted to them from outside. Then the One Who Made The Earth said to these four, "Why don't you go to the two sick men and say some words over them and make them well?" So those four went to where the sick men were and worked over them, and they were cured. From that time on, we had curing ceremonies and knowledge of the different kinds of sickness that may be caused by various things. That's the way all curing ceremonies started.
- Based on a tale reported by Grenville Goodwin in 1939. From: American Indian Myths and Legends, by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Oritz, 1984, Pantheon Books, NY

See also[]

List of Council's Own Brownie Try-Its

External Links[]

Earned Awards: Council's Own Earned Awards - Juliette's Closet, Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey Wild West Try-It