“This will make a nice centerpiece!”
The smile that revealed missing front teeth shone like the setting sun as the pig-tailed Girl Scout plopped down a dirt-caked empty beer bottle in the center of the folding table.
“Very creative, Abby,” I said, as she artistically arranged a bouquet of yellow mustard flowers in the bottle.
Ten young girls and an assortment of parent chaperones attended this camp-out at a local wilderness park. Our adventure initiated the first time many of the kids had ever been camping or even away from home and the girls overflowed with energy. As for me, the leader of the troop of Brownie Scouts, this event proved itself a day of hard work and silly fun, for which I shall always remember.
For several weeks prior to the event, we practiced camping skills during meeting time to ensure readiness for the trip. The favorite skill building exercise involved learning how to roll up a sleeping bag. As I tend to enjoy being like a kid myself, we participated in “bug-in-a-bag” rolling races.
Finally, the long anticipated date arrived, and late Friday afternoon, we gathered at our meeting place. Hyper girls raced around in the parking lot as the adults packed the gear.
Prior to leaving, we spoke of basic ground rules and answered questions.
“Will there be bears?” Debbie’s expression seemed concerned.
“No bears; but there might be coyotes in the distance. We’ll watch out for them so they won’t bother us. Okay, let’s go!”
Each girl had various assignments and all worked together to set up camp. The dinner entrée was “Colorado burgers.” This is a specialty burger where peanut butter, mustard and ketchup are spread on raw meat, wrapped in foil, and then cooked over coals. Sounds disgusting, but the brave who tasted them loved them. Plain barbequed burgers became the alternate choice.
“Look what we found!” Kaycee held out her arm and displayed five attached snails.
“Gross!” I hammed it up with drama, and the kids giggled.
We sang our favorite songs around the campfire and toasted marshmallows using twisted wire coat hangers. Of course we ate S’mores! The evening ended by everyone circling the fire and singing TAPS:
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Hand in hand, we passed the goodnight squeeze around the circle: Goodnight Girl Scout.
Lights out at ten, but of course they weren’t sleepy. Giggles and chitchat emanated from the green structures. The girls slept in tents without an adult, but we stayed close by in our own abode. There was rumor that the scouts might do something to my tent, but my co-leader, Pearl, and I planned ahead for some fun. Waiting till all was quiet and sure that the kids were asleep, we cautiously exited our tents. Stealthfully, by the light of two flashlights, we embellished the girls’ tents with toilet paper.
I felt like a kid myself, but then our scheme was thwarted by a loud noise in the bushes:
Who whoo … Who Whoo
“What’s that?” a sleepy voice called out.
“Oh, it’s just an owl up in the tree. Go back to sleep.”
Wrong thing to say. They wanted to see the owl, so out they came, and spotted the papered tent. Squeals of delight rang into the night. It was after two AM before the little campers fell back to sleep.
Six AM: little voices and giggles penetrate the chilly morning.
“We’re hungry!” The girls on breakfast duty made chocolate chip pancakes, and cocoa.
Following meal clean-up, it was time to pack up the gear before our hike in the hills. Many wonders were discovered on the trail that morning, but a surprise waited back at camp. The weather was warm and the kids hot and sweaty upon their return, bounced in delight when I pulled out a basin of water balloons. A major water fight ensued. After a snack of oranges, it was time for parents to pick up tired little girls.
That was 25 years ago and I still remember the experience. It was an exhausting yet exhilarating day. At some points, it seemed the longest day, yet worth it. Those little girls are now grown women; probably with brownie-age children of their own. Wonder if they remember the day Brownie Troop 708 went on the coolest ever camp out?
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