On Girl Guides, baseball, Wal-Mart and Marshmallow in a Jar.
When a large contingent of Girl Guides from the United Kingdom stopped off in Houston to change planes following their trip to Costa Rica, few could have imagined that a week later, they’d still be hanging out in the Bayou City.
They were among the thousands with nowhere to go after ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland enveloped most of the skies above Europe and halted air traffic indefinitely. Some would say this group was “stranded,” but these girls had no trouble turning a major inconvenience into an activity-filled adventure.
“When we initially landed, spirits were a bit low, because we had had such an amazing trip in Costa Rica,” Girl Guide leader Margaret Hillyer said. “But when we contacted the Girl Scouts, our feet haven’t touched the floor. We said we were on ultimate adventure Costa Rica, now we’re on ultimate adventure Texas.”
They got in touch with the San Jacinto Girl Scouts, their counterparts in Houston, and, as one Girl Guide phrased it, “It’s been southern hospitality at its best.”
The group has been everywhere: museums, parks, Moody Gardens and, best of all (seriously), Wal-Mart. Apparently, they don’t have many supercenters on the other side of the pond, and the girls spent one day shopping their way through the aisles for SIX hours.
“We were tired by the time we got to the shoes,” one Girl Guide said. “So we rested, then off we went again.”
They were enthralled by Marshmallow in a Jar and Easy Cheese and marveled that “everything’s bigger here.”
What does this have to do with baseball? Lots, when you consider that once the Astros got wind of the Girl Guides’ excellent adventure, they wanted to be part of it. So they donated tickets for Friday’s game to the Girl Guides and the 100 volunteers and escorts from the Houston-based Girl Scouts.
Girl Guides with Chris Sampson
The 16 stranded Girl Guides and their chaperones were treated to batting practice, where they were presented with red Astros caps and introduced to players.
None of them had ever seen a baseball game, but they did their best to do their homework as they made their way through the city as tourists earlier in the week.
“We’d ask people, ‘do you know anything about baseball?'” one Girl Guide said. By the time they arrived to Minute Maid Park, they knew Hunter Pence and Lance Berkman were the two superstar players, and Roy Oswalt, that night’s pitcher, was one of the best in baseball.
During the game, they were interviewed by FS Houston’s Patti Smith and were treated to an Astros win. Not bad for their first time in a Major League Baseball ballpark.
“We loved having them here,” San Jacinto Girl Scout leader Gina Murphy said. “We’re going to miss them when they leave.”
While it’s highly unlikely the Girl Guides will shed a tear when their planes finally do take off for home Monday and Tuesday, they will leave with a new appreciation for the United States, and more specifically, for their new friends in Texas.
“Everyone’s been so lovely,” said Elizabeth McLachlan, who celebrated her 18th birthday at the ballpark. “We just can’t believe how wonderful it’s been.”