Brownie Points

May 17, 2009

The annual Girl Guides Camping Trip is on Mother’s Day – and after two years of saying no to my youngest daughter who is a Brownie – I finally relented and said yes to the desperate puppy-dog eyes that she had perfected. Now, what you have to know is that I hate camping. I have tried it three different times in my life and the outcome was always the same…pouring rain, leaky tents and peeing in a hole and this fourth (and last) time with  the Brownies was no different – God is definitely trying to tell me that I am not a camper.

After tossing and turning every night the week prior – we get up bright and early on Saturday morning and head up to the country (the mountains to be more exact). It’s sunny and I’m thinking “O.K., I can do this – it’s going to be fine.” We arrive at the camp grounds, park in the parking lot and then have to walk with our gear to the actual site and which one that is I have no idea – it wasn’t on my “kit list” when I packed. After a bit of tromping around (my husband kindly offered to help carry our gear to the site) we find it. Oh – My – Lord. It is a tad more rustic that I imagined. Tents were already up and on wooden platforms which is a plus. There are bathrooms with flush toilets, which relieves me, but there is not much shelter. A roofed “marquee” with open sides and a small wooden stove.  Then Brown Owl, an amazing woman in her late 60s who has been a troop leader for over 20 years, informs me that my daughter and I will be sharing a tent with a another mother and her daughter. I see who it is and realize the neurotic weekend that is ahead, which leads the blood to leave my face, according to my husband – who is quick to drop off the stuff and head back to civilization.

No choice – I have to suck it up – for my daughter. No sooner do we unroll our sleeping bags when the guide arrives. “O.K. ladies – let’s start our first hike!” she exclaims enthusiastically. First hike? Off we go into the woods – me in a haze of bug repellent. At the halfway point up the hill (did I mention that it was all uphill?) a couple of the girls have to stop due to their asthma. I suggest to my daughter that perhaps we stay with them and enjoy the beauty of the nature around us. Hands clasped her reply is “Please Mommy – can we go all the way to the top?” Of course we can…another application of bug repellent.

After our hike we try our hand at archery – which I had loved as a teen and realised that I still do. Off down the hill (thank goodness) for lunch and a rest in our tents. Just as I was dozing off, I hear our guide calling to assemble us all for our second hike (more bug repellent). My daughter is enjoying herself and so I am happy. We come back for arts and crafts and dinner. Oh what’s that? A rain drop? Another rain drop? And then it comes – torrential rain and wild winds. We have no choice but to suit up in our dollar-store ponchos and weather the weather. Night falls and after singing songs around the fireplace at the Pathfinder’s campsite (guides who are in their teens –  they got to sleep indoors) we are off to bed. I had no idea how hard a wood floor would be to sleep on – the other lady brought air mattresses that were so thick and high that I don’t think the princess would have felt the pea. It’s pouring rain and the winds are really gusting. Everyone in the tent falls asleep almost immediately. As the campsite quiets down I am suddenly aware of the scurrying sounds that I hear under our floor board and all around me. Oh dear God, I pray – please don’t let the woodland creatures creep into my tent and nibble at me. I am so not a camper! My eyes don’t close all night and when dawn breaks the below zero temperature wakes everyone up. Of course, I’ve forgotten my long winter underwear and all of our clothes are wet from the rain that the wind blasted in. Still, I try to make the best of it – get up, put some tea on (thank goodness for the little wood stove) and hope the time until we get on the bus for home passes quickly. Then, at breakfast, I sit down next to my daughter, shivering with my cup of tea and she smiles a little smile, then leans into me and quietly says “Happy Mother’s Day Mama” and suddenly, the sun comes out.

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One Response to “Brownie Points”

  1. Brenda Purdie Says:

    That reminds me of when Barb and I went to guide camp. Very wet and buggy. We had to wear these hideous bright yellow hats all week which we discarded as soon as we arrived home. Barb and I worked so hard and slept so little that we got extremely giddy and had a hard time trying to be serious; the kids had to tell us to behave. It was a week Barb and I will never forget.


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