Don’t you think Girl Scout leaders should be required to take Outdoor Skills training before they take their girls camping? Here’s just one reason why they should. Jeanne and I had just closed our Camporee and were going from Unit to Unit to make sure all tents were tied, the places were tidy (as we found it or better). We reached the last unit, Ardath. This is the house boat, or what appears to be but isn’t really. We walked inside to see a room full of smoke. We opened all the doors to let the smoke out and noticed it was coming from a bucket next to the fireplace. It appears that the troop that was staying in that unit had a fire in the fireplace the night before or that morning and instead of taking the time to make sure the fire was completely out, they simply but the smoldering log into a bucket and left for home. What are people thinking? Why is it the world is so screwed up in that so many people dismiss their tasks and leave them for someone else to complete regardless of the consequence or outcome. They just go on their merry way. It amazes me also that so many Girl Scout “Leaders” pay no attention to the GS laws but expect, I suppose, the girls to abide by them. I could go on and on but I won’t because I’m tired of thinking about it and I want to just go to bed. Good night.
Well, the first years of Brownies, Daisies didn’t exsist then, we played a lot of Duck-Duck-Goose until Cathy and I learned how to really run the troop and what the girls needed to learn. Trainings, that’s the key. I don’t remember Cathy attending any trainings but I think I was present for ALL of them. My first one was an outdoor training with Rebecca Sherers 80+ year old Aunt somewhere in Mooresville I think. I believe the training was entitled “Walk Out, Look Out, Cook Out”. I was so excited to be going to a training, I know I got up around 4 hours earlier than I needed to just to get everything together that I needed. There was so much, a bandana, pen or pencil and paper. Wow, hope I didn’t forget anything. I don’t remember if the training cost anything back then but whatever it was, it was worth every penny.
We first sat in a circle on logs and we were taught how to handle a pocket knife, properly passing from one person to the next with the blade open and with it closed. When the blade is open and you need to pass it to someone, you hold it so the blade is facing down and the handle is extended to the person receiving it. You never let go until the receiver says “thank you”. This lets you know they have a good hold of it. I was wowed but such a small thing but it was all new to me. The next thing we learned was our knots. Square Knot, Clove Hitch, TautLine Hitch, and the Bowline. These are the knots I teach today. The square knot is used to hold something in place. You can pull it as tightly as you can and still be able to get it undone easily. The Clove hitch is used primarily for placing a clothes line. It actually took me a while before perfecting it to the point of being able to pull it as hard as I could and it not come undone. I was thrilled needless to say. The tautline hitch is generally used for the guy lines on a tent to be able to loosen or tighten as needed. This was a practice used mainly on Canvas Tents when it rained. During rain you would loosen the guy lines to allow for shrinkage and protect the tent from tearing. The Bowline is used to tie onto something to carry/pull it, such as a victim of a fall from a cliff. Throw the line to them and have them tie it around their waist or hips using the bowline.
Next we learned to build an “A” frame fire. Tinder is the smallest pieces of wood or grass or whatever you can find that will burn readily. Kindling is larger, about the size of your thumb in circumference and Fuel is the logs you place on the top to burn. A great firestarter is the cardboard egg carton bottom with dryer lint and paraffin. I know there are different fires for different meals but we didn’t learn that and I’ve not had another fire building training since then. I need to do that.
Now it’s time for lunch…..My first experience with Campfire Stew. Yummm. Campfire Stew……1 can tomato soup (condensed), two cans Vegetable soup to a pound of Ground Beef browned. Add chopped onions, corn, celery, peppers, or anything else you like. No shrooms for me please.
So now it’s the end of the day and we still have a tent to put up. This was an old Girl Scout tent with the ridge pole and maybe a floor, maybe not. Short walls and lots of guy lines. You start by placing a ground cloth (usually a tarp) on the ground where the tent will be standing, then staking the tent (with the floor) opposite corners one after the other, then the sides. Place the vertical poles under the ends and place the ridge pole on top of them holding the roof up. Tie the guy lines for those poles straight out in front of each pole. Now stake the remaining guy lines along the sides. Ouila….a tent.
It was a cool, autumn day, full of activity. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I wish I could remember Rebecca’s Aunts name.
My daughter had just begun 1st grade when the school bulletin came home telling me everything that was happening at school for the next few weeks. In this bulletin was information regarding learning about how to become a Girl Scout. So, with my daughter by the hand, I rushed out the door immediately following dinner, hearing my husband proclaim, “. “Whatever you do, don’t sign up for anything”. Of course, my reply was, “I won’t. Well, you guessed it, I came home the leader of my daughter’s Brownie Girl Scout troop #203 with the Southport Service Unit of Hoosier Capital Girl Scout Council in Indianapolis. The troop registered 14 girls right off the bat and a co-leader named Cathy. Cathy was the best co-leader anyone could ask for. i.e. she went along with everything I said but now and then, she interjected a few ideas. I wasn’t really looking for someone to go along with me but to really help me but her moral support was phenomenal as was the support of every parent.
I rushed to the council store to get all my books and whatever else I thought I just had to have, went home and read. I read and read and read but got very little out of it. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I was looking for a place to start but there was none. So after a month of doing crafts or playing games every week, I called the office to hand back my position as leader of this troop. I spoke to Beverly for a bit and she put me on track for the time, or so I thought. Another few months went by and once again, I called the office to quit. Don’t ya know, I talked to Beverly again and this time she gave me a bit more to work with in the way of ideas. I also signed up for a training in songs and games. Cathy and I were getting pretty good at games and the kids loved them but was that enough? I didn’t think so. So, I signed up for as many trainings as I could. First was my outdoor training where I learned everything there was to know about how to build an “A-frame” fire, use a knive, tie a square knot use a dip bag and how to wash dishes in the out of doors. We decided we wanted to take these little girls camping for the first time. Cathy wasn’t a camper but she toughed it out like a trooper. She had a great sense of humor, I must say. We prepared the girls by using our meeting place (the cafeteria at Southport Elementary School) as our campsite. We laid blankets down and had the girls lay on them with their eyes closed and listened to a tape of night noises. At the next meeting we went on a field trip to Camp Dellwood on the cities west side. We went straight from school so the girls didn’t go home first. We got out there and pulled into Pinewood unit. Wow, all the tents were on platforms. I’d never seen anything like that. And, they all had four cots each with a mattress, I might add. Donned in our firescarves, I built the fire that I had become so good at and we cooked our dinner (hot dogs) over it. The girls had a great time exploring ALL the tents that had been so neatly tied up prior to our arrival. Front and Back. So it’s now time to go home, I put out the fire, tied all the tents again, loaded the girls and gear up and drove south. It was a fabulous trip and the girls all seemed to have a great time. Cathy did very well too.