Woman wearing a navy hat standing in front of an evergreen tree
It’s me. I’m the travel blogger.

Btw: If you like this hat gifted to me from Tenth Street Hats (I love it!), check out my travel and book holiday gift guide for ordering details.

And, of course, her name is Karen Karen

So in late 2019, I teased my travel blog subscribers about a confession that I planned to reveal in the new year. The new year of 2020.

travel blogger newsletter kmfiswriting
Would love new subscribers to my blog, kmfiswriting.com – features the best travel destination inspiration and tips, book and movie reviews, day hikes, history, cemeteries, and my quest for the best mac and cheese.

I planned to time the release of my confession on March 12, 2020.

Why March 12? That’s the date the Girl Scouts organization was founded in 1912 (my confession is related). How do I know this? I was a Girl Scout for six years. And how do I remember this particular founder’s day? I have no idea as I have difficulty remembering where I put my reading glasses or why I walked into a room.  

So why didn’t I make my confession when promised?

Because 2020 happened.


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An abbreviated 2020 timeline that conflicted with planned travel blog editorial calendar

Scrabble game pieces spell out stay at home

March 11, 2020

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) made this statement about the coronavirus, “…we are deeply concerned both by the levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction…”

And declared that the coronavirus was not just a global health emergency…”COVID-19 could be characterized as a pandemic…” Source: WHO website  

At the time, the United States had nearly 1,300 COVID-19 cases. Minnesota (where I live) only had one publicly confirmed case of COVID-19 (that was reported on March 1). A couple of states put some stay-at-home protocols in place a few days prior due to the pandemic. But the general public still didn’t know at that time how the pandemic would soon disrupt all our lives throughout the world.

M&M store at Mall of America
I took this photo of the M&M store at the Mall of America before the stores opened on Feb. 27, 2020. The reason? I wanted some images without people in them to use in my Mall of America blog post series. A couple of weeks later the entire megamall closed.

I had recently partnered with the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. and was in the process of updating my blog series on the best things to do at the Mall of America. The Mall of America attracts millions of visitors every year from around the world. It is also a popular spring break destination for family vacations and staycations – and it was spring break season. So I reached out to my contact at Mall of America asking if they had a COVID-19 safety protocol statement for guests so I could include in my blog and social posts.

My email started, “I know Minnesota hasn’t had an outbreak yet…”

That did not age well.

March 12, 2020

The very next day, on March 12, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a peacetime state of emergency. And a few days later, the entire state of Minnesota shut down (with the exception of essential businesses) to help minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Well, we all pretty much know how the rest of the days, weeks and months played out in 2020.

So that is why I did not make my confession as originally planned on March 12, 2020 – the Girl Scouts’ 108th birthday. It was not a good time to make light of 2020. March 2020 truly was a precarious time for many people with so many unknowns and with the number of COVID-19 cases escalating so quickly.


Fast forward to December 2020

While the scientific and medical communities know a lot more now (December 2020 when I originally wrote this post and now December 2021 as I revisit this post), we’re certainly not back to normal as we enter what appears to be another wave of COVID-19 and variations hitting us across the United States and other countries throughout the world.

What’s different now is that while we are all becoming pandemic-fatigued, we still need to remain vigilant in staying healthy, getting vaccinated (including boosters…I got mine), practicing social distancing, wearing a face mask and washing our hands, it feels okay – in fact, encouraged by health professionals – to add a little levity at this time without feeling or appearing disrespectful. Humor provides health benefits – even during a pandemic.

I mean, many of you are not having a problem making fun of my name during this pandemic (please stop).

So this is me making fun of me – a different kind of Karen.

A Girl Scout’s confession of breaking the law after 45 years of silence

girl with blonde hair and pigtails
Me at age 9 – Still my go-to hairstyle while hiking – see my Minnesota State Park challenge.

When I was 9, I told all the Camp L-Kee-Ta Girl Scout campers in rural Danville, Iowa that I was from the future and that my real name was Karen Karen from the year 2020.

Why?

I don’t know why. I was nine?

What a freak. I’m surprised I had any friends growing up. I still make up stories today and even get paid for some of them (available for hire); but why tell that kind of story (aka lie)?

Well, another confession. I may have been 10 years old and not nine. I actually don’t recall for sure. But if I were 10 when I said I was a time traveler, I couldn’t really blame or explain away my creative license on a couple of traumas that occurred in 1975 when I was nine years old.

In early May of 1975, our Girl Scout troop was earning our cycling badge and we were all out on a bike ride on a gravel road out by Waterworks pond in my hometown of Fairfield, Iowa. I loved that bike with its purple banana seat and matching purple handlebar streamers.

I grew up in Iowa so I knew my way around gravel roads. I lived on one and I learned how to ride my bike in our back alley – also gravel. Well, that day, I don’t know what happened, but I lost control on some loose gravel and bit the dust.

Literally.

Now, that would be bad enough with the skinned-up knees and dusty gravel embedded in my mouth and face, but the Girl Scout behind me – Mary Ann – rode over my head with her bicycle. The road-bump collision knocked out part of my front tooth (a permanent one – an outcome that would plague me for decades).

So that kind of sucked. Getting run over by a Girl Scout and all.

But May of 1975 wasn’t done. About two weeks later, our home was destroyed by fire. We pretty much lost everything (the blue dress I’m wearing in the photo above was what I was wearing on the day of the fire). It was pretty traumatic, but what I remember most is the generosity of my hometown. So many people helped us during this time – with food, money, clothing, furniture, books, toys, appliances and even a temporary house.  

And an anonymous donor paid for my Girl Scout camping fees at Camp L-Kee-Ta.

And how did I repay that generosity?

By breaking the law.

The Girl Scout Law – the first line even!

“I will do my best to be honest
and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

Girl Scout Law

I will do my best to be honest.

Epic fail!

Although to be fair, the Girl Scout law does say, “…do my best…”

Maybe that’s the best I could do at that time.


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A Girl Scout confession explained: Time traveler blogger apologizes to campers nearly five decades later

Door leading to a portal

Other than saying I was Karen Karen from the Year 2020, I don’t really remember much else or if anyone believed me. Did I even have a backstory? And I don’t remember if I said anything to support my claim that I was a time traveler from the future or how long I continued the charade (or if I turned back into just regular Karen the next day).

It’s not like I planned to lie to my fellow Girl Scout campers. There was no strategy, no goal, no outline. No talking points. No key messages. Somehow it just came out of my mouth. It’s these types of experiences where I’m so grateful there was no social media back in the day.

If my time-traveling tall tale happened when I was nine, then maybe I could explain it away. Something like it was an escape from my reality and that I was trying to reinvent myself after getting run over by a Girl Scout and losing my house to a fire.

Or maybe, just maybe, I was trying to escape from my reality of 2020.

Regardless, I owe an apology to all the Girl Scouts at Camp L-Kee-Ta in Danville, Iowa from the summer of 1975 (or 1976).

I’m truly sorry for not doing my best to be honest.

OR

I’m truly sorry for not warning you about 2020.

OR

I’m truly sorry for not coming up with a better name x2 that will forever represent the meme of 2020 (and unfortunately carried over to 2021).


The burden of the Karen meme: Why my granddaughter and generations of descendants will not be named after me

Fast forward to 2020-2021 and Karen is kind of a popular name right now. But not in a good way. While I find many of the Karen memes funny, I’m not a fan of the derogatory memes where my name is associated with entitlement, white privilege and racism. I really need to speak to the manager about this.

Most (third) popular baby girls name of 1965: Karen

I’m all about history so did a little research and learned that my name, Karen, peaked as the third most popular girls name in the U.S. the year I was born (1965). However, it kind of tanked after that.

Last year, the U.S. Social Security Administration reported that the name Karen fell to its lowest ranking ever. Only 438 girls in the United States were named Karen in 2019 – and I don’t have to be a time traveler to predict that the name Karen will not make the most popular baby names list in 2020 (update: I was correct. Only 325 newborns were named Karen in 2020 – the lowest ranking since 1929). But, hey, even Damian is making a comeback (more than 3,300 newborn boys were named Damian in 2020).

Karen memes explained

And here’s an interesting article I found that explains a few theories on how the Karen meme evolved. I also learned there are helpful pins out there with “hundreds of funny and the best Karen meme ideas.” And lots of the best Karen meme Halloween costumes and funny Karen memes, Karen cat memes, Karen haircut memes, dammit Karen memes and the Karen memes list goes on and on – endless possibilities when it comes to the best Karen memes.

On a related note: If you don’t know much about Karen memes or any other memes, here’s a website that explains popular and viral memes: Know Your Meme.

It actually doesn’t bother me much that Karen is a pejorative for some really ignorant and entitled women (but the actions of those people do). That’s because people call me kmf and I don’t know any real Karens that act like Karens.

Rather than dwell on the whole Karen meme fad, I’ll focus my energy on something more positive, like: “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

The best Girl Scout camp singalong songs

two marshmallows roasting over a bonfire campfire

Hard segue here. Okay, this post is kinda all over the place – a little unpredictable and disjointed – kind of like 2020.

So while my Girl Scouts days were on my mind, several camp songs popped up in my head. Seriously, where is this stuff hiding that it just shows up 45 years later?

Since I was reminiscing about my childhood days, here are several of the best Girl Scout camp songs that created a strong earworm hold on me over the past week or so. Do you recognize any of these songs from when you went to Girl Scout camp or Boy Scout camp or church camp or band camp?

Best singalong camp songs: Roll Me Over the River…I mean Roll Me Over the Ocean

I discovered that I sang this song, Roll Me over the Ocean, wrong back in the day. For some reason, I thought it was river. It’s the camp song that goes, “It’s cheese. It’s cheese. It’s cheese that makes the mice go round. It’s cheese. It’s cheese. It’s cheese that makes the mice go round…”

And then you put your arms around the people sitting next to you and sway back and forth and sing the chorus loud and clear for all to hear – and really, really, fast. “Roll me over the ocean, Roll me over the sea. Roll me over the ocean and the deep blue sea.”

Good times.

Best singalong camp songs: Watermelon camp song

I loved the Watermelon Song. Seriously? Plant a watermelon on my grave and let the juice (slurp, slurp) soak through. Who was watching us kids?

Best singalong camp songs: The Billboard Song

Another song I loved with really strange lyrics was The Billboard Song. You can’t make this stuff up. Well, someone obviously did. Credit goes to Homer Haynes and Jethro Burns – take a listen and see if you remember it.

I’m surprised I remember all the lyrics to The Billboard Song. Here’s just one verse of this fun and odd song. They lyrics sound like they were put together with predictive text.

Smoke Coca-Cola cigarettes. Drink Wrigley’s Spearmint beer.
Ken-L-Ration dog food makes your wife’s complexion clear.
Chew chocolate-covered mothballs – they’re sure to satisfy.
Brush your teeth with Lifebuoy soap and watch the suds go by.

Best singalong camp songs: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree

I was this many years old when I learned a kookaburra was a bird. I thought it was something similar to a koala. Maybe because Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree is an old Australian nursery rhyme written by Marion Sinclair? And the gum drops mentioned in the song lyrics are not really candy, but rather what they call the copious kino (sap) that forms on the bark of eucalyptus trees. Oh, those assumptions I always fail to question.

Best singalong camp songs: Kum ba yah

And who doesn’t remember the feel-good classic, Kum Ba Ya?

Best singalong camp songs: Make new friends

I loved the song Make New Friends, which we always sang in a round.

“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”

Best singalong camp songs: Taps

And, of course, to end the day with the flag-lowering and folding ceremony, we sang the Taps song. Officially, Taps does not have any song lyrics, but here’s what we sang in Girl Scouts.

Day is done. Gone the sun.

From the lake. To the hills.

From the sky.

All is well. Safely rest.

God is nigh.

And on that note…leave a comment if you were in Scouts and/or share your favorite camp song. Or your favorite Karen meme. Or any elaborate stories you told as a child. No judgment here.


You may also like: Best places to travel back in time – historical blog posts, historical tours and historical homes

I love history and here are the best places to travel back in time to learn more about our past history such as historical walking tours, historical homes and more. Please note that many of the museums may be temporarily closed due to the pandemic. However, these posts will provide a virtual tour of traveling back in time until you can visit these historic places in person.

Best things to do in Asheville, NC – Tour the historic Biltmore Estate and more

Statue on the side of the Biltmore House in Asheville NC
Best way to travel back in time: Visit the historic Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.

Best things to do in Minnesota: Tour the historic Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, MN

Glensheen Mansion exterior back garden view and fountain
Best way to travel back in time: Visit the historic Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minn.

Best things to do in Minnesota: Tour the historical Mayowood Mansion in Rochester, MN

Fall foliage, mums and gate at the Mayowood Mansion in Rochester, Minnesota
Best way to travel back in time: Visit the Mayowood Mansion and gardens in Rochester, Minn.

Travel back in time to the 1800s at History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, MN

History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, Minn. - Hadley Valley Schoolhouse a 1800s one-room schoolhouse - exterior image of white schoolhouse with school bell on top
Best way to travel back in time: Visit History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, MN.

Prettiest street in the Twin Cities: The historic and beautiful homes of Summit Ave.

fall foliage along a city sidewalk with leaves on the ground
Best way to travel back in time: Take a self-guided walking tour of the historic Summit Ave in St. Paul, Minnesota – features nearly 400 historic homes and the largest stretch of Victorian-era homes in the entire country.

Top 10 historic walking tours in the Twin Cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul

F Scott Fitzgerald Walking Tour Boarding House St Paul Minnesota
Best way to travel back in time – Take one of the best walking tours in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.)

Behind-the-scenes of the historic James J. Hill House – St. Paul’s own Downton Abbey

james j hill house mansion
Best way to travel back in time: Tour St. Paul’s very own Downton Abbey – James J. Hill House

Best day trip from Minneapolis: Explore SPAM Museum and the Hormel Historic Home

Sign about Spam's historic contribution to WWII
Best way to travel back in time: Visit the unique and eclectic SPAM Museum in Austin, Minn.

Hormel Historic Home Exterior during summer
The best way to travel back in time: Visit the Hormel Historic Home in Austin, Minn.

Take the Minnesota State Park Challenge – preserving the Land of 10,000 Lakes

Sign and barn at historic state park Meighen Store
Best way to travel back in time: Hike at a Minnesota state park – all feature some historical facts to transport you back even hundreds of years ago. Pictured: A building in the restored 1800s Forestville village at Forestville Mystery Cave State Park in Preston, Minn.

20 facts about Lake Minnetonka, MN that may surprise you

Yellow streetcar steamboat on a lake
Best way to travel back in time: Take a virtual history tour of Lake Minnetonka and learn 20 facts that may surprise you.

Stay at a historic hotel – even if it’s haunted

Carpeted hallway with doors and paneled walls and chandelier
Best way to travel back in time: Stay at the historic and haunted Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Mass.

My quest to visit the most beautiful and historic cemeteries

angel statue in cemetery
Best way to time travel: Visit a historic cemetery. Pictured is The Haserot Angel or The Angel of Death Victorious at Lake Wood Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.

Our journey to honor my husband’s grandfather – a concentration camp survivor

Jean-Pierre Kolbach Ebensee concentration camp liberation
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Pin it for later

Alarm clock sitting on top of a stack of suitcases

Author

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

53 comments

      1. This is such a fun, fresh take on the current state of the world. Love the references to Karen and forgetting where you put your glasses – saaaame!

  1. OMG, I am laughing so hard. Great post! My assistant and good friend is Karen and she hates all the memes too. I was a Brownie. I don’t think I made it to Girl Scout. Too many rules for me, which is funny because I am a rule follower.

    1. That makes my heart happy! Scouts did have some rigid rules, but had a blast with all my friends. I just wish I could remember some of those scouting skills when I’m out hiking.

  2. This is awesome, I’m sure we all pretended to be things we were not at some point of our lives, but a time traveler is epic. I think we all need to forget 2020 and just pretend the year didn’t happen. Oh and the Karen thing, yeah not a great year to have that name, but it too should be forgotten.

    1. Thanks so much! All the world’s a stage for all of us. 2020 has definitely been a strange one…but am grateful for some of the gifts the year brought.

  3. I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it – sure there must be a statute of limitations even on Scout transgressions! And if not, you can plead extenuating circumstances for your house burning down – oh, and losing a tooth! I reached the big 60 a little while ago and I am still not ready to fess up some of childhood misdemeanors! An entertaining read, Karen Karen!

  4. Omg Karen Karen!! What a post!! I don’t remember why, but I lied in 7th grade that I was a twin. But how awful about the bike accident AND the fire!!! At least you figured out the reason /trauma behind your lies. Mines just weird me I guess!

  5. Too funny. The things we come up with as kids. As a former Girl Scout myself, 13 years, I can totally understand the story of time travel at camp. I’m sure it was a great story that all your Girl Scout friends loved.

  6. Lol funny post. Interesting how certain childhood events stick with us forever lol and if only your friends – and you – knew what Karen would come to mean in 2020. Just remember that if the shoe (name) don’t fit you, just forget it… A play on the OJ statement. 😄

  7. HAHAHAHAHAHHA This post was fantastic!!! As a former Brownie who never made it to the big leagues (I was too lazy to sell cookies lol), this really took me back. Like, literally and figuratively.

  8. Too funny! I absolutely love this post. I’m so surprised that you remember your old camp songs. I was a Brownie. I can’t remember why I didn’t stick with it.

  9. I could have used your time traveller self to warn me of this year. Alas, I wasn’t a girl scout when you were so I missed the news. I did enjoy the camp songs; they brought back memories.

  10. Karen from the future! You could totally have warned everyone about 2020…but I have a feeling no-one could possibly have believed you – I mean, none of us expected this year to end up the way it did!

    I really enjoyed this post Karen – I guess if we can’t travel, we can at least time travel via our memories.

  11. Ah now I get what you mean by time traveller. I’m sure if you were one, we would have seen you selling your own branded hand steriliser and masks back in March.

    Ps. I do know a Karen who lives up to the stereotype. There is one. 😅

    1. I’m sure there are one or two…and I may have spoken to a manager once or twice before. Ha! And you’re probably right about the branded supplies. And toilet paper as well. Or maybe you didn’t experience the TP hoarding over there like we did here in the States.

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