I’ve just returned from a Girl Scout camping weekend. Not quite a whole weekend, but about 36 hours.
It was not my first time going to, participating at or working for a Girl Scout Camp. I’ve been a leader for five full years now, and as a kid I was a Girl Scout for many years. I went to camp then, I’ve worked there as an adult so my kids could go, and I’ve chaperoned camping trips for all my daughters with this weekend being the most recent one.
Of course it rained like crazy yesterday, poured actually. Again.
And in my head through much of the trip I was thinking, “I’m getting too old for this ‘job.'” I thought it as I drove half the troop down there in the rain yesterday with my co-leader driving the other half down right behind me, and I thought it as I traipsed all through the camp in the rain, and I thought it as I laid awake in our leader “cabin” until 4am listening to them laugh and giggle and tell stories.
But, throughout the whirlwind weekend I also watched them in amazement, thinking and talking with my co-leader (who was a saint to spend her wedding anniversary at a rainy camp in a cabin with me rather than at home with her husband of 16 years) about how much these girls have grown and matured and changed from when we first started this troop together as Brownies, second graders, five years ago. We looked at them all, not even believing it.
We had eight really great stations to rotate through at camp yesterday which took us from first thing in the morning until the movie and campfire at the end of the night. We watched them create beautiful beaded jewelry at the jewelry-making station, being instructed in the craft by some of the leading women in the jewelry industry here in our state. We listened along with them as they learned about how to write a check and a deposit slip at the financial literacy class, from an instructor at one of the local universities. We cheered and encouraged them as they shot their bow and arrow during archery class, knowing full well that some of them were doing it for the first time. There was a science class, a tie-dye station, a dance class where they learned the moves to an upcoming flash mob taking place this summer, S’Mores, and they were laughing and smiling, and hugging, and chatting, and laughing some more, the entire day.
Did I mention they were awake in their tent til 4am?
Many of them haven’t slept too far away from home before. Many of them have never slept in a tent or cleaned a latrine (there are some benefits to being a leader and not having to do the camp “kapers” is one of them) many of them have never shot a bow and arrow or a bottle rocket or been in a flash mob before.
Being a Girl Scout has allowed our own daughters and the scouts we lead, to experience things they couldn’t experience in the normal course of their days. With us as leaders, our troop has taken field trips, had a scholarship named after our troop, done community service projects, slept inside an aquarium near the shark tank, gone behind the scenes on movie sets, at radio stations, TV shows, movie theaters, stage theaters, been on the news, in the newspaper, met the mayor, a city councilwoman, a comic book designer, learned how to collect, categorize and display postage stamps, sold cookies, cookies and more cookies-showing a business sense and dedication like you wouldn’t believe- and they’ve loved every minute of it.
And now, they’ve gone camping. Overnight.
All because I chose to be a Girl Scout leader five years ago so that my daughter could be a Girl Scout.
So as I laid in my cabin last night, chatting with my co-leader til I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, someone I hardly knew before scouting, as we were listening to them laugh and giggle and shriek, I knew that this was the reason I was there at that moment.
Thank you Girl Scouts!