Monday, June 11, 2007

On Camping continued...

On Camping!

Being a mother to a daughter in Girl Guides, specifically a “Brownie” at this present time, it’s a déjà vu for me once again to participate as necessary with her (as I did with her older sisters in their girls groups) in activities fruitful in allowing for multiple memory making moments. This past weekend I was able to do such a thing once more by attending camp, requiring both mother and daughter to sleep in tents. While the young gals were working hard with activities towards their “hiking”, “camping” and “compass” badges, we mothers were rolling up our sleeves to assist any which way we could, but no one gave me any badges for that.

In anticipation of the trip, two air mattresses were purchased for a cozy and comfortable sleep in the tents. Sending my daughter on ahead of me was necessary to complete my own details of the day by transporting a son to his oddly scheduled hockey game evening, not a usual. I hadn’t expected to be stranded on the highway though on my way to hockey with a flat tire, and as we waited for the AAA truck to show up, the time frame wasn’t within the parameters of approximately a forty-five minute wait time, oh no, rather two and a half hours with cell phone calls over the time period assuring me the truck was on its way. Being a member of AAA has been advantageous to us in so many ways, however this wasn't the day to encounter such a busy and demanding moment to add to their service plate. It's the first time I've had to use the service and been quite disappointed with the results, but happily it's not ever been such a case before. I swear I will now practice changing my own tire all summer long in case of another incident such as this one, for not only did my son miss his hockey game, once the spare tire was placed on the vehicle, I had to find an automobile repair garage to fix the leaky tire, only to find out the cable to the spare tire was broken and it couldn't be placed back up under the vehicle. But, in my haste and hurry to get to camp where my daughter was awaiting my arrival, I hoted this on the to-do list for this week when the mechanic wasn't able to service it that night anyway. It turned out nothing was wrong with the tire, the valve had a crack in it and it decided to affect me on the drive just then that evening. Looking on the bright side, it was a lucky thing it occurred there, rather than towards camp on rare traveled roads in the country, something to be grateful for I suppose.

My mood was somber when I realized I was late getting to camp, the sun was fast dropping to bid farewell and I still had to proceed and get home to pack the vehicle before the drive ahead on unfamiliar roads. I had no time to eat any dinner, just grabbed my water and drove off. My day became much brighter when at long last I drove the final stretch of long road towards the troupe’s campground, noticing my young daughter suddenly rising up, jumping up and down and waving frantically with both arms in the air, a bigger than life smile on her face to touch my heart. I was here! I was going to enjoy this time! I hoped..

Girls were separated into groups;
Moose, Beaver, Loon, and Wolves.

In the grassy meadow, I noticed several tents were already pitched up, red buckets of water sitting next to each one for fire prevention I was later told. The campfire was prepared and awaiting the evening s’more cookout, all the girls, leaders and mothers hyped for their time together.

Thinking ahead I had both mattresses already filled with air, so setting up my sleeping quarters was the easy part. I was plunged into craft watching as the gals were completing a sewing project in the cabin, the building complete with a kitchen, and several rooms, though no sign of a bathroom was in sight. Figures!

The small building was the latrine area
with a hand washing station nearby.

My young daughter showed me around, gave a heads-up on where the “latrines” were, showed me the assignments sheets for daily duties, gave me a rundown on the animal names assigned to each group of gals and there I found the adults were sleeping to the right of the grounds, the girls to the left, the nurse was inside ready for any patients in the night. Gosh, this wasn’t what I had expected, so I was formulating a plan in my mind on how to ensure any possible occasions of night-walking fearful daughters, or other such things some of the mothers warned us of. Then there was the issue of someone needing to use the facilities. I accepted the fact that the leaders were well seasoned and had accomplished this camping type of feat many times before. Surely they knew what to do and had experienced many situations before, so I assumed I’d just go with the flow.

I felt the evening was very relaxing, the campfire was wonderful with scrumptious snacks (remember I hadn’t had any dinner!) and a cup of warmth to go along with it. Imagine my surprise when suddenly many “fireflies” appeared in the trees beyond our campfire area! I remember as a very young girl spending time in the southeast with extended family and seeing fireflies for the very first time, and I haven’t seen any since then, until this camping trip! How fun! Immediately I explained to the young girls present what they were exactly and how fun it was for me to see them again as an older adult. They were assured there was nothing to fear about these little creatures, so we all sat quietly mesmerized observing their evening performance dancing within and around the small forest of trees nearby. Like little firelight fairies, they were delightful to watch.

What's a camp without a fire?

All was well, we corralled the gals and ushered them to their tents after cleaning up and latrine duties were complete. Did I mention there was no running water to use? Brushing teeth consisted of a mini cup of water, and spitting into a slosh bucket of liquid when done. A hand-washing center was located nearby the latrine shack, as well as a separate washing station for dirty dishes, and then the girls’ mesh bags could be hung up on the line using clothespins to drip dry.

As expected a sleepover is a defunct word as no one sleeps! I managed to doze off somewhere after 1am.only to wake up about 4am. and realized I needed to get to the latrine from my late cuppa hot something. I figure I lay restless for over an hour easily trying to convince myself the fresh air outside wasn’t as cold as my nose and cheeks, having donned three jackets, my socks and all my clothing to keep warm initially when laying to rest. And then I thought I could check out the place, the fresh air may induce fatigue when warming up afterwards, and lastly if I was that cold then perhaps my daughter was too! As the young gals prepared for bed I noticed most had bare feet and thin nightwear, and I wondered if any were as uncomfortable as I was. The next morning all the mothers compared notes, most of us admitted to throwing the sleeping bag over our faces to ward off the bitter cold of the evening in our tents. Brrrrrrr…..

At 5:30am the kitchen was stirring and apparently coffee was brewing. I had no early morning duties so I took my time and awaited the others in my tent to wake up. Eventually I staggered out of my tent towards the building and realized not everyone was up, smart women that they all were remaining in their cocoons a little longer. Entering the porch area and through the doorway, the aroma of coffee was the best early morning welcome ever to me. I walked further ahead the kitchen area and the ladies all turned to see who had entered the building, and when all eyes were on me I impulsively and very naturally blurted out; “Do people really do this for fun?” resulting in some hearty rip-roaring laughter to break the ice and fill the air, realizing all were making the best from little sleep the night before. Oh boy! It was going to be a very long day. And it was.

Meals and dish washing took place outdoors once warm enough.

The day's agenday consisted of many activities sure to place all into a state of utter exhaustion (laugh), but the gals loved all the crafts they were soon to make and keep.

Craft making was very fun! She made a purse (hand sewing) to hold tissues, a fossil with items she collected from her hikes, and a plant holder with an impatiens plant to take home inside.

During the day I kept busy helping out anywhere necessary, assisting in meals, crafts and attending the two hikes towards the hiking badges. While the evening was wintry cool, the weather turned and began to warm everyone up later on just in time for the hiking. The first hike was around the trails on the property, but later on the next hike proved to be quite challenging for all the women, let alone the tired girls beginning to show emotions with the fatigue they were experiencing from both heat and workouts.

We entered a conservation area and chose several paths from the main map posted at the entrance. They had to hike four kilometers towards their badges, on a variety of terrain possibilities and the choice of venue nearby the campsite was perfect for this occasion. We hiked around waterfalls, up and down stairwells leading to boardwalks and bridges, found fossils to take home and learn more about, viewed a fossil/native Indian museum on the premises, got lost twice and had to backtrack, and all the while everyone had to use their compasses after their initial class back at the campsite beforehand. The remarks began in earnest from all, the mothers noted the thigh burning staircases were giving all a great workout.

This terrain looks nice and flat. To get here though was a butt burning load of staircases, both up and down and leaving most of the campers fatigued.

Fifteen hours after listening to the first early morning risers it was time to pack up and head home again. Some gals were staying for another night with the rest (lucky them. laugh), four gals came to join in for the day only, and several of us had other commitments to get home for. I feel the time my daughter and I had at the camp was plenty and just right. While driving home, she began to unwind and the sense of ultra fatigue had her crying in abundance when laying down in bed. She realized she’d been overextended and sleep was necessary to recover. The problem was however, she was overtired and it took a long, long time for her to fall asleep. Last night she slept longer than ever, obviously necessary.

Today she woke with a huge smile on her face and announced she was eager to camp again in the fall….with mother in attendance again. If sleep issues were the only thing difficult, I have to admit the weather was fantastic and I was happy to attend and be there with her. I've taught for many many years at VBS camps, and other group events, so this is right up my alley. If I have to keep warmer, I'll bring more blankets next time, but truly, it was a blast! I can hardly wait to go again!