When I was in elementary school, I learned that the local Girl Sout troup went camping in the summer.
Sign me up!
I belonged to our local troop which met at a building near where I lived. It was called “The Girl Scout House”. The building consisted of one large open room upstairs and another twin room downstairs. Our group me upstairs. There was a big fireplace along one wall that was never used. Several long garage sale tables and metal folding chairs were the only furnishings.
We had meetings every Wednesday. The only things I remember doing are reciting the Girl Scout pledge and doing small crafty projects. Sometimes activities revolved around meeting the requirements for a badge.
But the thing I waited for, longed for, was the weekend in June when we went camping.
We made “sit-upons” to sit on the ground. These consisted of two 12″x24″ pieces of printed vinyl (plastic picnic tablecloth) covering a newspaper inside. The edges were paper punched and I ran yarn through the holes with a blanket stitch to keep the newspaper inside.
We had mesh bags to wash and hang dry our dishes and personal silverware.
The 4-person canvas tents had that musty unused smell that you only know what I mean if you’ve slept in one too. (They must be made with special daddy longlegs attractant chemical in the fabric.) One important rule about the tents was that if it rained, you must not touch the inside of the tent. If you did, the water would drip in through that spot and all your stuff would get wet.
The best part of camping was singing songs around the campfire. I still remember many of these songs 45 years later: Make New Friends, The Bumble Bee Song, and Wadiliacha. Some of my favorites were “call and response” songs like Sipping Cider and Going on a Bear Hunt.
During the day I would look for perfect sticks to take back to camp and widdle into a sharp point with my jack knife.
My favorite meal was Camper’s Stew. This was a hamburger pattie combined with potatoes, carrots, onions, and a dollop of cream of mushroom soup in a tinfoil envelope. We cooked them over the fire. I loved it even though the carrots were inevitably hard and sand always fell in when I unwrapped my meal.
The only food item better than Camper’s Stew was the “Banana Boat” dessert. To make this, you cut a long V section along the inside curve of a banana. I ate the hunk of banana that resulted and saved the strip of peel. Then you shoved mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips into the space. Once you replaced the peel strip, you only had to wrap the banana boat in tinfoil before cooking it over the fire. (For some reason, although our entree was tainted with sand, I don’t remember this ever happening to this dessert.)
Even though these outings were short, I couldn’t wait for the next one. I was a scout from 2nd-8th grade…Brownie, Girl Scout, and Cadet. Year after year I knew I would sign up for another year of “meh” Girl Scout meetings to go on another Girl Scout camping trip.