A Non-camper Heads Into the Woods

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Here's my true confession for the week. This Girl Scout is no camper, and after nearly 10 years working for Girl Scouts, I had never actually spent the night at one of our camp properties until just last week. Oh, I've spent many days at our camps working at events (I'm always up to lead a craft or a hike), checking on things at resident camp and having meetings. I'm even certified in small craft safety and troop camping. I love my creature comforts, though, and like to head home once the sun goes down.

I really thought I'd dodged a bullet on this one, and I did ... until I got the email from my own Daisy daughter's troop leader detailing plans for a troop camporee. As soon as she heard she'd be spending the night at Kamp Kiwanis, one of her very favorite places, my little one was ready to go. She started packing her bags a full week before our trip and talked of little else to her friends and even her first grade teacher. And, of course, this mom had no choice. I had to go.

Somewhat more reluctantly than my daughter, I packed my bags and headed to camp. The weather was beautiful, which was perfect because our busy girls had a day chockfull of great activities. They canoed, went swimming, made some seriously cute stick animals, hiked, earned a "bugs" badge, cooked their own lasagna in a Dutch oven over the fire and had an investiture/rededication ceremony, among other activities (are you tired yet?!). It was great fun to watch the girls trying new things, learning skills and discovering the joy you can only find in the outdoors.

By the time we took a final hike and packed up the next morning, the girls were looking a little tired, and the moms were feeling really tired, but I heard more than one child say that this was the best weekend ever and others ask why we had to leave so soon. The girls were hugging each other before they got into their cars and asking when they could pleeeese do this again soon. They had certainly learned a few lessons over the weekend, and interestingly, so did I.

Here are some things I took away from the experience:

* There is nothing to compare with the joyful sounds of 13 Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts when they are canoeing for the first time.

* Taking a night hike without checking the trail for spider webs first is probably not a good idea. Sorry about that, girls!

* The night noises at camp are beautiful, as is the sunrise over Lake Martin. You should definitely try it.

* Much to my surprise, you really can cook a tasty dinner in a Dutch oven. I won't doubt Cheryl Miller (our council's volunteer liaison and camper extraordinaire) on that topic again.

* Who needs crème brulee when you can have a dessert of campfire cones (see recipe below) while sitting around the fire? These babies are so tasty I'll definitely be making them by our fireside at home this winter.

* Spending the weekend in the woods reminds you of all the things you love about your child and helps you discover some new qualities to enjoy, as well.

The moral of this non-camper's story is this. You may not ever be a "real" camper, and it's ok if you don't love spending the night in the woods. It's a great experience, though, and definitely worth a try. You'll learn a lot about your daughter and maybe a little about yourself, too. Happy camping!

Campfire Cones

What you need: 1 waffle cone per girl and adult (younger girls might prefer a smaller sugar cone), chocolate chips, white chocolate morsels, toffee pieces, peanuts, mini marshmallows, peanut butter morsels, etc. (whatever might be good melted together), aluminum foil, and small bowls and spoons for add-ins

Girls choose their own flavor combinations to fill their cone. Cone is then wrapped in aluminum foil and allowed to warm by campfire. Unwrap and enjoy!

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