Thursday, March 12, 2009

Five Things I Learned at Girls Scout Camp

I thought I might do this one now, lots of folks are looking for work and Camps all over the country are starting to hire now. I know your thinking – OMG why would I want to do that???? Well I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite summers as an adult!
At the age of 41, I was offered a job at a resident Girl Scout camp in NH. So, the first week of June, I went off to camp, bags and all for a week of training. A week later Fox (2), Hanna(9)and Katie(15)joined me. They were going to get a summer full of free horseback riding, boating and smores & Fox had a Nanny & allt he outside play he could manage. Jim spent the summer digging and then headed back to Idaho with the car. So what did I learn at summer camp…..

1. It is an amazing place for moms!!! Especially single moms. Free room and board for you and your kiddos and free camp for them while you play – I mean work. We had a wonderful army tent right on the lake. It had built in screens so I left the lake side flap up so we could feel the cool night air & wake each morning to gentle summer, morning breezes and loons calling. After Fox had nodded off each evening, I could lay there and listen to the night sounds. I truly loved that what a magical way to fall asleep!
I also adored working with the nearly 200 girls each week. We pond stomped, broke secret codes, we beaded and tie dyed everything we could find. We smeared avocado all over our faces and learned how to clean our skin!! We – well I had an absolute amazing amount of fun. And they paid me for it!!! I learned … what bliss really meant to me. How very vital being outside in nature and with children was to my well being!!!

2. There is a reason they tell you not to have food open in your tent. Chipmunks, mice,squirrels,ducks yes ducks)…etc. I had one very sturdy container for treats. A mouse tried his hardest for several nights around 4 am to break into my stash of M&M’s. I still have the container, with chew marks. One night a peanut M&M was dropped and forgotten. That little mouse played “roll the M&M” from one end of the tent to the other! This went on for at least an hour before I was able to snatch the M&M and throw the candy out the tent flap, he flew out right after it. Honestly I felt horrid that I had ruined his little game – but I couldn’t sleep. I learned …that living in the great outdoors – things like mice in your abode, just don’t seem to bother you so much.

3. You don’t have to cook or clean– for a whole summer!!!! We had an amazing camp cook! She prepared a vegan meal option every meal and they were gooooood! I discovered that along with the three miles or so I was walking everyday (the camp was 400 acres) & a mainly vegetarian diet ( I included one protein, an egg or a serving of chicken daily )– my body really liked me!! It slimmed right down, gained massive energy and I felt great!!! By the end of the summer I had lost 20 lbs. I learned …that my body loved a mainly vegan diet and lots of exercise – duh!!!

4. The camp director was not a nice gal – sad but true. There were only about five staff members out of about forty that were over the age of twenty three. So having the MAIN gal just not like you was a huge challenge for me. At 41, I still struggled with people not liking me then and it sent my empath senses reeling. I attempted to get along with her. When she nearly broke her ankle, I made sure when I saw her that I asked after her. My attempts to have some sort of friendship with her fell flat and it was clear my attempts were annoying her. So I just did my job and did extra when I could. I tried to be friendly. We never got on and she always made me feel uncomfortable.
At the end of camp we had an exit interview. She sat me down and gave me a great review on the job I had done with Program & how much all the extra things I did meant to her – which was nice! Then she dropped the bomb – it would seem I was too nice. Uhhhmmm come again…yes I was too nice & it had annoyed her all summer. No one could possibly be that nice and be real. I think that was the very moment I grew a pair and said,” I’m sorry that you feel that way, as being nice isn’t a problem that YOU have.” Where it came from – some inner well of anger and injustice. This was the only complaint she had about me – I was too nice???? She was taken aback but I think it made her think too. I was sure I had destroyed any chance at a good recommendation – but wow it felt great. I didn’t trash it by the way, it was glowing. I learned… to accept that not everyone will like me and that’s an ok thing. It has served me very well ever since.

5. Oh one last thing funny thing….. mosquitoes loved the gals from Great Britain. If you walked with them – you didn't get bitten – I swear those poor girls looked like they had measles by the end of the first month!!! So…I learned… if you are an American in Britain – watch out for the bugs!!!


boylerpf said...

I am roflol! You go girl with the comment to the director! All of my kids have been counselors at camp with one of them being the chef (she is a Paris trained Cordon Bleu graduate). None of them would ever change one single moment and always keep in touch with the kids and adults they met. I've never thought of doing it but hey, have computer...will travel!

Periwinkle Studio said...

oh, what a wonderful experience that must have been. Especially being in nature and waking up with the gentle breeze on your face.....ahhh

Great comment to the director and I hope that made her think a bit. :)

Kerri said...

What a great post. I have great memories of going to Girl Guide Camp growing up. My mom came along as brown or tawny owl (who can remember now?) and trust me, she is not a tent camper. Audrey will vouch for that. I have been thinking lately that I need to find a meaningful way to volunteer as a mentor for young girls. Thanks for reminding me of girl guides.

jolt said...

Sarah - your so cool!
It never even occured to me that an "adult" could be a camp leader. That's awesome. And really what a great way to get your kids into camp if you can't afford to send them!

Kathleen Coy said...

What a great experience, sounds like a lot of fun. Laughing at your comment to the director... good for you! Being nice also means being nice to yourself, and standing up for yourself when you need to!

Lisa said...

i never got to experience those sort of things- a very, strict italian dad i had ( have) who didnt beleive int hat sort of stuff (!)
My daughter did it all though, and loved it xx

Lisa Lectura Creations said...

Hi Sarah! That sounds so much fun! Perfect extras too, even though you're at work! I have so many great memories as a little girl at camp. Thanks for sharing!

Lisa :)

Audrey said...

I agree with Jolt - you ARE cool! This is great. I love when we are able to recognize the lessons and the blessings in life. They are EVERYWHERE (including in mean camp directors. Our job is to recognize and cherish those lessons and blessings when they are presented. You are a master at it!
And Kerri is right - her Mom is NO tent camper :)
Hugs to you!

Ronnie said...

Hey Sarah!
What a delight to read your story. Thanks for sharing. Some really good life lessons and reminders too.
I LIKE you, girl!!!

Pease Porridge said...

Sounds like quite an experience. I have never went away to camp, but I can see how you would love it.

I am giving you an award. Stop by if you have time. No hurry and only if you have time.


Renee said...

Seriously, what is it about nice people that anyone would have a problem with?


Renee said...

kisses xxx and hugs ooo. xoxoxo

Suzanne said...

This was a fun read seems like a great way to spend time with your kids, and maybe avoid the adults!