Oct 12, 2012 8:02 PM by Maddie Garrett

Girl Scouts' Acadian Heritage Badge Coincides With Festivals

Friday night was the kick off to the 38th annual Festivals Acadiens et Creoles in Lafayette, and what better way to celebrate that commemorating the Girl Scouts of Louisiana Acadian Heritage Badge, started in Lafayette in the 1960's in honor of Acadian culture.

Six year old Addison Stelly is a Daisy in the Girls Scouts Pines to the Gulf Council. Today, she's working on her French.

"Laissez les bon temps rouler," recited Addison. "Do you know what that means?" We asked, and she did. "Let the good times roll!"

Learning French phrases is just one of the steps to earning a unique Louisiana Girl Scouts Badge, the Acadian Heritage Badge. It was created in 1968 by Denise Harding's mom, Margaret Martin Harding.

"I was in Girl Scouts and she was our Girl Scout leader and she created the Acadian Badge, which is still in existence today," said Harding. "And I think because of that, because of her heritage and I think she really appreciated her heritage when she moved back, she created this badge."

Margaret left Acadiana at 19 years old, but after 20 years she returned home with her family to Lafayette. As the local Girl Scout leader, she decided Acadiana needed it's own badge, and she set out to create the official Acadian Heritage Badge. At the time, the badge coincided with another Acadian festival.

"Our troop had a booth which demonstrated all the things that were in the badge, making a quilt, cording cotton, braiding a rug, we had to learn a French song," remembered Harding.

44 years later the tradition continues, Girl Scouts are exploring Acadian foods, music, crafts and learning the history of the Acadians as part of earning the badge.

"They added a few things, learning about superstitions in gris-gris, which is kind of cool. And learning a two-step, which my mom would love because she was a dancer, she was a Cajun dancer, so that would have been a great thing," said Harding.

Even after her death, Margaret Harding still influences young girls today.

"She founded it in the 60's and the girls can still earn it today and they can earn it all over the state, so they can all take an active part in their heritage and culture," said Erin Turner, Communications/PR Director for Girl Scouts of Louisiana - Pines to the Gulf.

Turner provided us with a full list of the requirements for the Acadian Heritage Badge. She said Girl Scouts complete it throughout the year, and could even fulfill many of the activities at Festivals Acadiens et Creoles if they wanted to.

1. Make a time line to show the exile of French people, who became known as Acadians, or if you are of Acadian descent, trace your family history back as far as possible.
2. Visit with an older person of French descent. Have him/her share stories in the dialect they grew up with. Learn to say phrases and learn their meanings.
3. Research different religious customs of the Acadian people. Include religious holidays such as All Saint's Day and Good Friday. Include special religious celebrations such as burial, weddings and baptisms.
4. Listen to traditional Acadian music. Learn to identify instruments that were used in making the music.
5. Learn an Acadian dance such as the two-step, waltz or les danses rondes. Teach the dance you learned to a sister troop or friend.
6. Explore traditional Acadian foods. Why did the Acadians eat the foods they did? Cook and share an Acadian dish with your troop, family or friends.
7. Visit a historical Acadian structure such as a home or church. Learn about its architectural significance, including materials the structure is made of, codes, and taxes regarding the building, and the foundation of the building.
8. Learn about Acadia superstitions, and gris-gris. Share with your troop, group, family or friends.
9. Visit a local craftsman or museum to learn about such crafts as quilting, weaving, spinning, basket weaving, canning, raw hiding, pirogue making, etc.
10. Make a toy or learn a game that an Acadian child of the early 1900's might have enjoyed.
11. Dramatize an Acadian folk tale using a skit or puppets.
12. Make a list of family Acadians, past and present, and be able to tell a little about the contributions they made to society.



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