Sunday, May 18, 2008

Girl Scout Camp

This past weekend, I camped at Camp Linden, which is the campground owned by the Girl Scouts of Huron Valley. I guess that means it is owned by me - it's my own private campground - because I am an adult member. I was a Girl Scout as a girl, and my daughter is now one. Every troop that wants to camp has to have a certified adult troop camper that has been trained by the Girl Scouts. That's me! I wanted to volunteer, but being a leader is a big time commitment. The other adult volunteer opportunity is troop first aider, and wisely I let this one pass. Jennifer, our first aider, is great with that role.

When I signed up to be a troop camper, I wondered why 9 hours of training is needed to be troop camper, but when I arrived at Camp Crawford (GSHVC's other camp) I learned that many of the volunteers had never camped before. Some don't even cook for their families on a regular basis! The goal of being a troop camper is to teach the girls how to camp, and to quote my instructor, "There's camping, and then there is Girl Scout Camping." So even though I had camped many times before, I had to learn the Girl Scout approach to camping.

I learned that Girl Scouts leave no trace, so that means no using accelerants on your campfire or charcoal fire. It means not using sticks for your S'mores, you need to use a metal skewer. It means using a mess kit, instead of paper plates. I learned about how to implement a kaper chart (post a comment with your email address and I'll send you my kaper chart and schedule) and schedule activities and keep the girls on task. The challenge to GS camping is to make sure the girls do everything themselves, even though it would be 10 times (make that 100 times) easier to do it yourself.

We've come a long way since we camped at Camp Hilltop as Brownies. The lodge there burned down in 2006 and the campground has been sold to the city of Ann Arbor. The most difficult recipe we made that year were pizzas on white bread in a pie oven on the campfire. This year, the girls decided that the kaper chart was "plan B" and wanted everyone to work on every task. We moms know that this doesn't work very well - whatever is everyone's job soon becomes no ones job. They handled it pretty well...only a bit of squabbling.

What did they cook? They made an entire dinner of vegetarian lasagna, rolls, beef stew and pineapple upside down cake in dutch ovens, and it all came out well. The stew could have used some more time on the fire. We experimented with some new things, and here is what didn't work:

Campfire Popcorn - the oil leaked out and caught on fire. The small amount of corn that popped was singed. Luckily the campfire smoke cancels out the burnt popcorn smell, which as we all know from our workplace office kitchenette experiences is one of the worst smells ever.

Paper Bag Breakfast - bags caught on fire, bacon took too long to cook and once it did, it welded itself to the bottom of the bag. Egg was raw.

...and here is what did:

Egg on a Stick - I love this guy's description of the process, including the part about Mississippi and grandma. The only thing we did different is we used metal skewers, which I think helps the egg cook on the inside. Of all the things we tried, this one I thought for sure was a failure, but it was a success. I kept pulling the skewer out a little to see if it was done - as soon as the egg can rotate on the skewer, it's cooked. Use older eggs so the shell doesn't stick. You end up with something like a hard (or soft, if you'd rather) boiled egg.


Jen said...

Wow, the egg on a stick sounds very cool. I'm so glad your troop has the girls do everything themselves. My ds was involved with two scout troops where it seemed that this wasn't... um.... exactly the case.

Have you ever made s'mores pie? That's a big fave.

Maggie said...

The egg trick sounds like a cool idea.

I went to a Girl Scout camp in the Irish Hills in '83 or '84 (3rd or 4th grade). I'll have to ask my parents where it is exactly. I remember a really tall hill we had to hike up to get to the mess hall.

Unknown said...

If you are still blogging on this site, I would love to see your kaper chart and schedule from GS camping. I camp with my girls quite a bit, but this year am coordinating a camp trip for the entire service unit (45 girls) and would love to see what worked for others. I would also like to see the egg on a stick info.