Monday, April 12, 2010

Camping and the Importance of Taking Notes

I went along as a chaperone and driver for The Eldest's Older Girl Girl Scout Camporee this weekend and we had a great time. The weather cooperated, the activities were fun, and the girls all got along beautifully. I even managed to talk to the other adults without hogging the conversation so there was progress on a personal note. (I felt myself going there a couple of times but managed to stop and turn it around by asking some good questions.)

It's such a different experience to camp with the big girls. They are fairly low maintenance since most of them are experienced campers so it's just a matter of watching the clock and making sure they get where they need to be for their scheduled activities. During the main outdoor time the troop leader (I'm a co-leader) was helping with one of the activities while I was the escort so she had more to do than I did; I took a picnic mat and read while the girls were in their rotations. I was able to watch and learn a lot from the other leaders during the weekend; I learn new things every time I go camping with more experienced leaders. I helped with cleaning up the dining hall and learned the procedures particular to that, then I watched one of the leaders teach the girls how to clean the bathroom at our camp site prior to check out. (After the girls wiped the showers, sinks, and toilets with bleach, she took a hose in and taught them to spray everything down since there's a drain in the floor; that makes it much easier.) I paid attention when the troop leader scheduled the last morning’s check out activities so I won’t mess up on that again like I did when I took The Middle Child’s troop to their camporee. I also paid attention to the structure of the weekend.

This is the third camporee I’ve been to along with one other troop camping trip and they have all been structured roughly the same way. I’m starting to think I might run one for The Middle Child’s service unit, but I want one more year under my belt first. I also want to run a family camping trip for The Middle Child’s troop next fall and see how that goes. I can structure it similarly to the Camporees I’ve attended for practice. I’ve got great moms in The Middle Child’s troop but they aren’t campers yet. Three of my nine girls weren’t allowed to go because their moms just weren’t comfortable with the idea of camping; I have to get them over that! If we can take a family trip, where the dads and little brothers can go too, then I think I can get them more comfortable with it. They can see the camp, get a feel for what we do there, go through packing and pre-camp preparations for themselves so they will better know what to do to prepare their girls when they send them by themselves, and so forth. (And believe me, having a girl there without the proper equipment or with more gear than she can manage herself is a pain in the neck, for her and the leaders.)

Speaking of equipment, I did better this time with my personal gear. (I have over-packing issues.) Well, it wasn’t cold like the last time, so that cuts down on lots of stuff right there, but I was able to get everything out of the cabin and packed in my car in two trips! Since I have to take my own cot and bedding (I have sleep problems related to the fibromyalgia so the horrible cots they provide don’t work for me) that’s an accomplishment. I also had a cooler and food in the unit house and that was one additional trip. I didn’t have anything in the way of troop supplies so that helped, too. I took firewood up but they burned that so I didn’t have to pack it to take home. (I would’ve left it anyway; they have a place to put extra wood at each camp site.) I’m happy I’ve streamlined. I used almost everything I took and didn’t need anything else. I didn’t use some cold weather items like warm PJs, a long sleeved T-shirt, and a warm scarf (it was supposed to be chilly at night but it wasn’t; in fact the first night was hot) but that was it.

So there’s a chunk of my de-briefing, which is something I do after every trip I take. I’ve also made additional notes for myself about how I would run a Camporee, tweaks for my packing list, (even though it was almost perfect there are always things to tweak), and other ideas. The notes I’ve taken over the years are invaluable to me; that’s something I highly recommend to everyone.

Whether you travel a lot or not, if you plan on ever traveling again take notes. Make a packing list before you go then tweak it for the next time as soon as you get back while you still remember what worked and what didn’t. (For instance, I now have an over door hook in my toiletry bag which I wind up using on every trip. Who would think of that if they didn’t have the experience of having something to hang up on a trip, like a toiletry bag, with no where to hang it?)

If you participate in activities that require planning, like camporees or parties or field trips with kids or any type of planned event that you will do again, de-brief and take notes. I even have hurricane notes since there’s a good possibility we’ll go through one of those again some day.

There may be people out there who can handle life without notes, low maintenance types or the super organized or something, but I’m not one of them. (For the record, I am very high maintenance about certain things. I don’t wear make up, floof my hair for three hours every day or wear designer anything, but I like my creature comforts.) For the rest of us, notes can be a life saver!

1 comment:

Mark said...

Hear, hear on note taking. I've got a travel list that I've been developing over the course of fifteen years or so, that I tweak after every trip (and there's been lots). Before every trip, I print it out, cross out the things that aren't appropriate for the current trip, then go to work on the rest. The obvious things (e.g. socks) are just as important as the non-obvious things (e.g. addresses for postcards) since I'm just as likely to forget them!