I am a Girl Guide leader. With this comes certain responsibilities. Sort of like Superman but without the fancy cape. I do however, sport a lovely camp hat filled with hat crafts that one parent mistook for the dreaded ugly hat. I’m still not sure how to take that as I take great pride in my camp hat but there you go. That’s me and my camp hat at last years camp. Not too bad if I do say so myself. The ugly hat, for those of you not in the know, is the bright pink floral hat with a big bow that any girl caught not wearing HER camp hat gets to sport for part of the day. Some actively try to get the ugly hat which puzzles me but I digress….
Being a leader is actually more like options and opportunities with responsiblities thrown in for good measure. One of top responsiblities we have as leaders is to provide the girls with new experiences and opportunities. We try to expose them to things that they may not otherwise get to do. One of these little gems is camping. And here is where the story begins dear readers.
This weekend marks the sixth year I’ve taken girls camping. I’ve done lodge camps, sleepovers, facility camps and tent camps. The ever loving, bug slapping, throw your kid on me for the weekend so I can make her dirty tent camping. I love it. LOVE IT ! Love watching the girls arrive all shiny and clean and love it even more when I send them home dirty, smelly and smiling so big because of all the fun they had. This weekend is a canoe camp with campfire cooking. This is also about the time in the week where I start to lose sleep, pore over my countless lists, pack and repack, shop and reshop, have the oh crap moments and the zen moments. All in all – quite an upsy downsy kind of time. Thank goodness I am married to a very patient man and have two kids who were very young when I started as a leader so they are used to mommy’s craziness. These are my little campers setting up their tents. And no, we did not arrive in the Mercedes stuck in the mud… We ain’t that fancy.
At our meeting tonight I learned that at least 4 girls have never been camping before. Please don’t point out that this is a question that I probably should have asked a while ago. I have no idea why I didn’t and plead lack of tea. This was brought to my attention as we set up tents in the gym tonight, did cooking safety, played some games, etc. To my surprise, it didn’t throw me. Not even a bit. In fact I find it kind of exciting. These lovely girls that I’ve had the pleasure of being with since September are about to be intiated in to a wonderful world of nature, campfires, sing a longs, s’mores and more. They will learn how to set up a tent, clear a site, set up a fire, cook over a variety of heat producing gadgets and paddle a canoe. They will participate in chores, games, art and more singing. All of these things will provide skills and a sense of accomplishment that will hopefully remain with them the rest of their lives. And I get to be a part of that ? Hell yes ! I get the opportunity to share skills and impart a bit of wisdom amidst the fun ? Hell yes ! I get the option to have fun and eat some cool food and hang out with women friends who are as crazy as I am that I enjoy ? Hell yes ! And I will gladly take on the responsibilty to do this. Every time. In every way. I share the responsibility which is great but for the most part it comes down to me. I have the equipment. I have the experience. I have a fairly good bit of knowledge in the noggin about this camping thing. Always something to learn. Always something new to try. Always exhausting down to the marrow of my bones.
If someone had come to me twenty years ago and said, Hey, would you like the opportunity to take 21 girls between the ages of 9-11 away for a weekend of hard work, cooking mishaps and bug bites while sleeping in a nylon temporary shelter with no noise protection from the birds – I would have laughed hysterically and walked away. You want me to do what while sleeping in what ? Are you crazy ? Now – I can’t wait. I can’t wait to crawl in to my sleeping bag Friday night after having a night hike and campfire with the girls. I can’t wait to watch them learn and grow and have a great time. I can’t wait to come home Sunday exhausted and satisfied with another job well done. You want me to sleep in what ? A tent ? Hell yes !