I just got back from a week of Girl Scout camp. I’m still feeling a bit punchy from all the camp songs, flag ceremonies, bug bites and S’mores. This is the second year I’ve brought my kids to Twilight camp up in Dallas. My sister lives up there and has gone with her daughter every since my niece was six. Both years that we’ve gone, we’ve stayed at my sister’s house. We spend the days swimming and lolling in front of the TV. Then each evening, we head out for the crazy, hyped-up fun.
In case you’re wondering, Twilight camps have nothing to do with sparkling teen vampires. A Twilight camp is in the evenings from about 5:30 to 9:30. I don’t know if they have Twilight camps in other places, but here in Texas, it’s too damn hot to have 500 kids wandering around a park in the middle of the day. Because I volunteer as a unit leader, I can bring both my kids to camp, even though my son is clearly not a girl scout.
I’m not going to lie. Going to camp for a week is exhausting. Being a unit leader for 8 boys, ages 4-8 is doubly exhausting. On Friday night, when the last boy got handed over to his mother, when we’d made it through the week without anyone getting hurt or burned or lost, I was relieved. Still, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. My kids had a fabulous time. Here’s my short list of things I love about Girl Scout camp:
- Catching frogs/lighten bugs — Even though camp is chock-full of organized activities (like archery and crafts), we tried to find time each night to go down to the wet-weather creek and search for frogs and bugs. Last year, during the drought, there were no frogs. This year there were tons. The boys had a blast! My favorite part? One boy who was super quiet and shy most of the time had a great eye for finding frogs. He caught at least three every night (most boys caught one or two during the whole week). You could just tell that he felt like a rock star every time he caught a frog and all the other boys crowded around to look at it.
- Kapers — Kapers are chores that each unit is assigned during the week. It’s everything from filling or emptying the buckets in the hand washing station to performing the flag ceremony. I think it’s so important that kids learn to do their share of the work and to see other kids doing theirs.
- Cookout night — Hey, it’s stressful–like crazy stressful–having that many boys crowd around a camp fire. (For the cookout night several units work together, so there were between 17 – 20 boys.) Still, I think learning how to be around fire responsibly is important. Learning how to strike a match, how to make a fire circle, when a fire is ready to cook over, and how to put out a fire when you’re done cooking. That’s all good stuff to know. Now, does my four-year-old remember all that? No, probably not. (And he wasn’t old enough to strike a match.) But he’ll pick those things up after a few more years. And he had lots of older boys role-modeling good behavior for him. Which brings me to the thing I love best about camp:
- Buddies — At camp, we use the buddy system. Everywhere you go, you go there with a buddy. If you need to run back to the last station because you left your water bottle? Take a buddy. Need to go to the potty? Take a buddy. Want to go look for frogs? Take a buddy. The way I see it, this is just good practice for the rest of life. We all need buddies. We need friends who are willing to look out for us and stay by our side. I want my kids to learn the value of having a buddy with them for the tough tasks ahead. And I want them to know how to be a good buddy.
So, yes, Girl Scout camp is a ton of work (and bug bites), but for me, it’s so worth it for all the valuable things my kids learn. Plus, I get to do it with my sister, who has always been my buddy.
Do you send your kids to camp? Did you go when you were a kid? What’s your favorite thing about it?
I’m Emily McKay, AKA The Hippie Chick Mama. Why Hippie Chick? Well, ’cause I’m one of the those organic-veggie-eating, raw-milk-drinking, yoga-practicing … okay, you get the idea. I’ve got two kiddos. The McDaughter is in the first grade and the McSon just turned four. My husband, The Geek, travels a lot and works with robots and Legos. No, seriously, it’s a real job. I love to cook and bake. When I’m not cleaning up after kids or doing laundry, I write for Harlequin Desire, YA Romcoms under the name of Ivy Adams, and paranormal YA for Berkley.