Monday, March 23, 2009

Camping

I survived the weekend!!! I went camping with The Eldest and three other girls from her Girl Scout troop, along with roughly 70 other girls from various other troops, at the camp our local Girl Scout council owns a few hours away from here. It was actually a lot of fun except for the not sleeping thing. The weather was mostly GORGEOUS although for the last night it got down to a chilly 59 degrees in the wee hours; brrrrr. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it was a Camporee for older girls so they were all middle and high schoolers; that made things a lot easier on the leaders! They are so independent compared to the Brownies and elementary age girls. I didn’t have much to do other than just be there for them, with some minimal supervision. Here’s how minimal I got- the other leaders were all official and talking to their troops after our arrival, giving them the rules and going over the schedule and so forth, so I felt like, as the leader representative, I should be doing those things too. I called my four girls over and said “I’m supposed to be telling you things now, so what should I be saying?” As the veteran campers they are, they proceeded to outline the rules for me and came up with a few I wasn’t aware of! ;) As for the schedule, I got it at check in when we first arrived at the camp gate and they had already reviewed it thoroughly by the time we got to our site. I helped out with a few other things the “Chick in Charge” (as she refers to herself, which I get a kick out of) assigned me to over the course of the weekend. She had things so well planned that everything unfolded seamlessly. They completed an Interest Project Patch (IPP) called Uncovering the Evidence. They went canoeing and hung out by the camp pool and then had a big chunk of free time to hang out and enjoy being together. We all went to Founder's Hall for dinner Saturday night and entertained ourselves the way mankind has for millenia before electricity with skits and silliness. The Eldest wrote up the skit her troop presented based on a story one of the other girls has been telling for years about how the camp is haunted! I think it was the best skit of the night and it got a big applause. They exchanged the SWAPS they made before heading back to our site. After dark Saturday night they played “Manhunt” where the “its” were zombies, vampires, and werewolves to fit the “Horror” theme of the Camporee. I know you were wondering if there were s’mores, a campfire, and camp songs and of course there were. The Chick in Charge led us through several camp songs but my favorite was Boom Chicka Boom that went on for about a dozen different variations, including an operatic version that was hilarious and a valley girl version that just about stumped the song leader. (She pointed to various girls to choose the “style” for each verse.) The food was catered too so we didn’t have to cook, which was wonderful. (Wonderful in that we didn’t have the work of cooking; not so wonderful on the quality of the food. I’d say slightly better than school cafeteria level.) :-P




Top Photo: The fire pit where we actually used a grill since there was a fire ban due to the dry conditions. (We weren't allowed to have a fire on the ground.)
Bottom Photo: The cabin I stayed in

Personal Challenges

I had my personal challenges to overcome. ;) I knew there was spotty cell phone service at the camp (although the AT&T people had full coverage every where they went, but of course I have Sprint) but I still forgot to pack a travel clock or watch. (I use my cell as my time piece.) I had it on my list and looked at my travel clock several times as I was packing but it just never made it into the luggage. :-P We were late to breakfast the first day, of course, but that afternoon I was able to leave camp during free time to go to Wal Mart and pick up a new travel clock. I am delighted with it, too! It is super slim so it won’t add any bulk to my luggage and it even tells the temperature, which is how I knew it was 59 degrees out when we woke up! (Lousy reviews on Amazon, though.) I also bought a cheap watch for good measure. Then there was the sleeping issue. OK, I’m a light sleeper. I wasn’t always a light sleeper, it’s an age thing, which stinks big time, but there you go. I also have fibromyalgia so I need sleep in order to function without resorting to Lyrica or other prescription medications. The sleeping conditions at camp are less than ideal, however. The cot springs are noisy and sag something fierce, all of the leaders in the cabin (the adults slept separately from the girls) and even the girls make noise all through the night (potty runs, “Leader So and So, one of the girls is sick can you come help”, rolling over on the noisy springs, snoring, etc.), the VERY LOUD birds get going at the crack of dawn, and you never know for sure what the temperature will be. Oh and bugs. There are all sorts of them in the cabins, although thankfully mosquitoes weren’t a big problem since it was cool this weekend. I’ve been to this camp once before so I knew what to expect and I went prepared with a couple of options. The first night I tried an air mattress with a foam egg crate pad, a sleeping bag air mat, and a sleeping bag piled on top of the cot and cot mattress. That didn’t work; it didn’t help the sagging issue and both the cot and the air mattress squeaked LOUDLY every time I moved so I couldn’t get comfortable since I didn’t want the noise to keep the other leaders up all night. (Which I did anyway; one of the other leaders commented about the noisy air mattress in the morning- sorry!) The second night I ditched the cot and put two of the camp mattresses directly on the floor topped with the (now deflated but I was too lazy to take it off) air mattress, the foam pad, the sleeping bag air mat, and the sleeping bag. Ah; the winning combination. I was able to get comfortable and actually slept a couple of hours before the girls started coming in. One of the girls in another troop got sick and there was a lot of fetching of the first aid person (who was sleeping in the bed next to mine) and slamming of creaky cabin doors and so forth. (That whole troop wound up leaving early to get the girl home, poor kid.) One additional thing helped me get the little sleep I managed to sneak in- my MP3 player. I loaded it up with my Transitions II CD which is womb sounds combined with soothing music designed to help babies sleep better. We played it for all of our kids when they were infants so I know I can sleep to it. I put in my ear buds, cranked the volume, and most of the snores and squeaks and rustles faded into the background. I was a little sad that the crickets and forest sounds also faded into the background, but you can’t have it all.

I guess one of the things I enjoy about camping is the challenge of finding a way to maximize my creature comforts in a rustic setting, so since I was able to do that, and the girls had such a great time, I consider this camping experience a huge success!

Additional Thoughts

One other aspect of the trip was the chance to spend time with The Eldest and her friends. She’s 15 going on 16 so I’m very aware of the short time we have left with her. She’s on the brink of adulthood and moving on to live her own life so I treasure every second I can spend with her now. I was waffling about going/not going this weekend when I asked her if she would like me to go; she very firmly told me “YES”, which made up my mind. In going with her I passed up a Girl Scout activity with The Middle Child and a soccer game with The Youngest, but for all too long I’ve passed up activities with her because the younger two were just too young for me to leave them. As a former La Leche League mom I’ve always believed in nursing my babies and staying with them to bond so I wouldn’t go on any over night trips with The Eldest while they were little. Now they are older so I’m taking these opportunities to go and do and spend time with her as much as possible. Yes, I felt a fleeting sense of guilt for missing the tea party and the soccer game, but as one of the other leaders pointed out they are so young they won’t remember; The Eldest will remember this camping trip, though. So will I, and I’ll remember the extraordinary young woman she is, and the wonderful young women her friends are. It was my privilege and honor to chaperone them this weekend.

3 comments:

Loretta said...

testing for comment.

Loretta said...

finally figured out with PJ's help, how to post a comment. Your camping trip sounds like a real success. Were you at JD?

Kim said...

No; that's a public park. We were at a Girl Scout owned facility in another part of the state. It was so lovely; we couldn't have ordered better weather.

And YEAH! I'm so glad to have you commenting! :)