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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Camping with my scouts

By Zoya Saltonstall 

For two years, it was a moment I had been eagerly awaiting-taking my girl scout troop camping. My  daughter joined scouts in  1st grade and the following year there was a big need for leaders.  With the encouragement of a girl friend, I took the plunge and became a leader.  My biggest  fear was that the girls would discover that I hadn't been a scout myself in my youth.  This shouldn't have been a concern-it didn't matter to the girls one bit. 

 From the start, I was committed to keeping the "outing in scouting". This is partly because my few attempts at doing crafts ended up with me nearly in tears during the prep work. I'm not great with crafts and indoor kid projects. Being outdoors exploring was much better for me and all the girls.   I quickly discovered a little rain or high winds didn't deter the troupe-it just added to the excitement. 

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The evening of my first ever girl scout camping trip was nearing to end.  We were camped at Fort Abercrombie in the glorious summer weather, just near the lake. The day had been full of setting up tents, campfire by the lake, singing songs and then nestling down for the night in very full tents. Snug as bugs in rugs is the only way to describe the scene.   

Two of the other leaders and myself  sat up with bug nets over our head re-hashing the day. Together at the picnic table,  we savored a jar of Nutella hazelnut chocolate spread.   The mosquitos  landed in the Nutella and crawled across it as they sunk in deeper.  Talk about a very, very bad day!  Death by submersion in Nutella. (That said, I can imagine much worse ways to die!)  Meanwhile, the scouts giggled  away in their tents. I knew  they really were trying  hard to go to sleep- it was just so much excitement. 

 I quietly crawled into my tent, in the 11 o'clock hour.  All scouts had been asleep for quite some time and the midnight sun was finally setting.   The scout sleeping to the right of me held a neon green glowstick in her hand. Even admist her deep slumber, she had a smile on her face.   I listened to the various noises of the birds and trees outside with heightened awareness-feeling the responsibility of being the troop leader. Sounds of snoring came from the other various tents-that is truly the sound of contentment and deep rest after a busy, fun day on the beach.   

Before leaving camp for a hike on our final hours together, we were all in a circle on the ground.   I asked the girls, "What was your favorite part of the camping trip?" The responses varied from "trying a variety of foods"  to singing songs by the campfire to making new friends. One leader mentioned how pleased she was with how helpful the girls were with gathering supplies, putting their tents away. This was our first camping trip and there are many unknowns about how the troop would handle the unknowns of camping. I was so thrilled to see the day and night together go smoothly. And my favorite, favorite FAVORITE part? Foil baked camp bananas-bananas cooked in a foil packet with chocolate chips and coconut in them. Those flavors will forever take me back to those moments together around the Lake Gertrude campfire.  My troops' first  camping trip. 

Kodiak resident Zoya Saltonstall is a mother of two and a physical therapist. She loves black labs and chocolate.

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