I wonder if being a Girl Scout or Boy Scout is still a big deal nowadays but back in my era (80’s), it was! I started as a star scout at the age of 9 but I couldn’t remember if I attended an investiture. The following year, I became actively involved in girl scout activities because that was one of the coolest things to do during those times. I felt proud wearing the green uniform, pink neckerchief with green and yellow ring, girl scout pin and hat. We wore the girl scout attire every Friday and if anybody did not wear it, it was like a mortal sin for either forgetting or for not joining the girl scout.
My grade IV teacher, Ms. Pruna announced one sleepy January that we’re going to have a girl scout camping on late February! I asked my BFF Shellah if she would join the camping and I was ecstatic to know that both of us were bent on joining it. There were two problems that we faced: first, if our parents would let us join the camping and second, we had no tent!
It took me a week to convince my father that the camping was worth it. It helped to have Shellah’s mother (Ate Ruby) to back us up. Besides, the camping site was a walking distance from our home and it was within the vicinity of the school. Our tent problem was solved when Rhonna told us that she could accommodate us.
The day before the camping, I packed my clothes and brought some kitchen utensils, cans of sardines, spoon, fork and plate. My parents were there during the opening ceremony at the school ground and when it was cooking time for dinner, they left. I felt like I was about to cry because separation anxiety was something that I couldn’t beat since I was in kinder. Shellah seemed to be enjoying so I just went with the flow and pretended that I was happy. My first night at the tent was unbearable because I had a slight aversion to enclosed spaces. As a result, I was mostly sleeping during the girl scout lectures the following day.
On our second night, there was a small miscommunication between our group leader and Shellah about the food. If I remember it right, all of us were adjusting to our own cooking capability and as well as the number of servings allowed per dish so how could you divide a small fried chicken into 8 little mouths? Shellah cried, maybe out of frustration. I cried, too but out of homesickness! Abigail tried to comfort us and she thought that I just cried because Shellah cried! Truth was, I cried because I wanted to go home!
The second night at Rhonna’s tent was another challenge for me. I wanted to tell her to open the zipper but I thought of worms and snakes entering our tent so I junked the idea. There were more daytime activities on that day and I felt like a walking zombie.
We had a bonfire on the 3rd night at the school oval and I was surprised to know how many of us were there. There were girl scouts from the other schools and as well as boy scouts from our school. I wish we had digital cameras in the 80’s!
Back at our camp site later, Shellah and I stayed at Ernaida’s tent to chat with classmates. Out of fatigue, we fell asleep at Ernaida’s tent. Her tent was thrice the size of Rhonna’s tent and had a small opening so I didn’t feel like I was enclosed. I woke up at around 2AM and saw some six girls sleeping. I went to Rhonna’s tent to get my pillow and slept again at Ernaida’s tent.
Truth is, I cringe every time I remember what I did to Rhonna. She was very generous in accommodating us but when I felt some discomfort, I left her without saying a word. I was 10 years old and I was stupid.
After the camping, I was very much relieved and I felt like I was away for 4 years, instead of 4 days.
“So what did you learn from the camping?” my mother asked.
“I learned how to cook using wood and tripod,” I replied.
“Only that?” she seemed surprised.
“Yes,” I was confused why she said that.
As a mother and many years later after that memorable camping, I would have wanted my children to learn the following:
- Independence- because parents wouldn’t be around forever.
- Reliability- because being in a group, team or family means being there for one another.
- Hard work-because we need to work for something that we want.
- Friendship- because no man is an island.
- Courage- because most of our fears are only imagined fears.
- Trust and obedience- because leaders are there for a reason.
- Loyalty- because a true friend stays through thick and thins.