Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Camping, the Girl Scout way

Last weekend we went camping at Meadow Mountain Girl Scout Ranch with our Girl Scout troop.  We went with five other families - yes it was for the whole family, not just moms and girls.  We were situated in a cluster of units, called 'tabins' (stupid name) that surrounded a campfire ring, tables, and a supply shed.  Here is our tabin.  It had eight bunks (the most uncomfortable sleeping platforms on this earth), a wooden floor, and a split between wood and canvas walls.  It was actually very nice to have room to spread out and we could set up Colin's bassinet near our beds and so forth.  I didn't get a whole lot of sleep on this campout, but it was nicer than being in a tent.

There were three main activities that the girls were focusing on during this campout.  Now, Rylan is too young to be doing badge work yet, but she will get a couple of participation badges out of it.

First up was making gorp.  Every family brought something to add to the mix...

It was very good - and was going to come in handy for the next activity - Geocaching.  There were seven (I think) geocaches spread out over the property, just for the purpose of the scouts to find them.  We split into three teams, each with a GPS and waypoint coordinates, and set out.

The camp property is pretty vast... this was going to be a bit of a hike!

This was our team, on our way to our first waypoint. 


Brush pile.... NOT a bonfire waiting to happen...

Mt. Meeker, to our north...

Another troop was preparing to ride...

A meeting between teams.  There was some confusion about waypoints.

See all the berry seeds?  Bear scat.  Luckily, a few days old...

Now that is a happy hiker!!

We rested the remainder of the afternoon.  The kids explored around the campsite...

Not what you think...

Colin's first time in hiking boots (they were Owen's)
While the older girls settled down to do some Basic First Aid training.  Rylan sat in on this but quickly became bored.  About this time an afternoon rainstorm blew in, so we were in our tabin, napping with the boys, while Rylan was with the rest of the girls.  The girls were also to do some solar cooking with pizza boxes on this day, but the sunshine just never did show up.

Then it was dinner time.  Each family had signed up for one of the meals.  Tonight's dinner was 'Hobo packets'.  This was the highlight of the camp for me - it was an awesome dinner!  To make hobo packets, you can use beef, chicken, maybe even pork, and a variety of vegetables.  We had sliced chicken breast (pre-cooked), raw ground beef, diced potatoes, diced sweet potatoes, sliced zucchini, sliced carrots, and a bag of frozen corn to choose from.  Then you add some sauce or seasoning - jarred spaghetti sauce, salsa, minced onion, S & P, seasoned salt... the list is endless.  You make your packet by taking a generous square of foil, spray it with nonstick spray, make a central pile of the meat, veggies and seasoning you choose, and then wrap it up.  I would put in several dabs of butter for good measure.  Then just nestle it into the hot ashes of the fire, or on the grill plate above the fire, and give it a good 30-45 minutes to cook.  If you are using raw meat, I would go with closer to 45.  Pull it from the ashes, put it on a plate, and open carefully.  The great thing about this dinner is that it stays hot for a long time.  The kids really enjoyed it, and ate a decent helping for a change!

Then it was time for s'mores and a talent show. 

We had a good time, and being able to visit with the other parents was fabulous - especially as a family.  We don't get together as "families" nearly enough in this group - it's mostly just moms and kids - so I like it when dads can be involved too.  This Girl Scout troop is a homeschool troop, so there is a kinship there.

The next morning we all settled in for a group breakfast, and wished Dean and another dad a Happy Birthday and sang to them.

All in all, it was a good experience.  The camp itself was a wonderful facility.  There was plenty of firewood, water and a pit toilet was nearby.  We had a nice shed to store our coolers and food boxes overnight.  There were several other troops in the camp, but we were spread out enough that you couldn't hear them very often.  But.

A couple of concerns...

1) I cannot stand screaming girls.  I just can't.  Especially the screaming for no apparent reason.  Most of the girls slept in the same tabin - so the screaming was intense at times.

2) There was an issue of the older girls being exclusive and shutting others out.  I have no idea, because I was mainly focused on not losing two toddlers in the woods or keeping them away from all things deadly, like the campfire, hot water and the cook stove.  I hope the older ones sort this out - I gather this is an ongoing issue.

3) One girl in particular, (I don't know her very well - in fact this was the first time I had ever met her) did an incredibly mean thing.  I won't repeat it here, but as soon as Dean and I heard her shout out something extremely inappropriate about another little girl, we looked at each other, too stunned to speak.  It reminded me of those horrible camp movies of the 80's, like Little Darlings or something like that.  The wonderful thing was that the other girls immediately told her to not say stuff like that - that it could hurt some one's feelings.  Good for them!! - Huge kuddos for doing the right thing.

But that got me thinking... Girls can be so mean.  The kind of emotional havoc that can ensue when a little queen bee is around can be devastating.  That is one of the primary reasons why I don't want Rylan in public school.  The subversive psychological warfare is unbelievably effective - worse than any bully who takes a swing on the playground or snatches your lunch money.  It's the same stuff that leads older girls to consider suicide when it gets bad enough.  But it seems that, whenever you get a bunch of little girls together, there is an unspoken event taking place. They are categorizing, sorting, sizing each other up, and determining who is on top.  No matter the age.  Alliances form and the low woman on the totem pole is shoved out.  I know.  I was one who was shoved out - in Bluebirds.  I even remember the day it happened - at a meeting at Suzi S.'s house.  That is the sad thing.  You don't ever forget it!

I will try my hardest to prevent it from happening in our own Daisy troop, but I have my concerns.  I suppose, in my role as a Daisy leader, I need to help guide these girls and help them manage their feelings and emotions as they grow (so much happens when their parents aren't watching...), but I don't want my own daughter caught in the fray either!   I suppose this is where I need to consider what is to be gained in the big picture.  I know that, at some point, there will be hurt feelings in our group.  Behaviors will have to be addressed (even more so since some girls are not accustomed to being in a group such as this - I know Rylan isn't), and life lessons will be learned.

There are plans afoot to return to the camp this November.  I'm not sure if this will be a whole family thing again, but I imagine since it might be considerably colder, the little ones would stay home.  We'll see!

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