Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Camping - Garu Style

I've been a Brownie leader for most of the past decade. My first Brownies - the ones who taught me just how badly a camping trip could go - graduated from high school last year. Since that first chaotic and crazy trip where just about anything that could go wrong did, I've worked (and camped) with troops in Canada, the US, and Japan, and also visited troops in India and Sri Lanka. Despite cultural, linguistic, uniform and other differences, some things seem to be universal, especially when you take the girls camping. After not having gone camping with a troop for a few years, I just got back from 3 days in Yamanashi-prefecture with my current Brownie troop (4 leaders and 8 girls in grades 1-3). Here are a few of the lessons I (re)learned.

  1. Roast marshmallows are a delicious ooey-gooey snack (although in Japan s'mores are made with ritz instead of graham crackers?!?!) and campfire is good fun. I co-lead my first campfire in Japanese and, despite some mistaken lyrics, a great time was had by all - from silly songs with exaggerated actions to slow songs sung in the round.

  2. Girls are apparently unable to go to the bathroom by themselves. More amusing, however, is the power of suggestion, and how quickly an ENTIRE room of girls will go from zero to full-on squirming potty-dance when one of them announces her need to use the facilities.

  3. Little girls can switch personalities faster than Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde - they'll be adorable and lovable one second and rude and cruel the next. (and then adorable again in a heartbeat)

  4. Despite complaining CONSTANTLY about being tired/hot/injured during the hike, girls return to their room and immediately start running about.

    Our "long" hike - despite their complaints the girls did REALLY well!

  5. Fill a room with exhausted little girls tucked into bed and no adults and the resulting mayhem will ensure that NOBODY will fall asleep for hours. Add a singing adult or two, however, and the girls will be fast asleep within minutes!

  6. Serve a meal to a group of kids and no matter what it is half of them will find SOMETHING to turn their noses up at... UNLESS they have cooked it themselves (My previous belief that Japanese kids aren't picky eaters was proven wrong time and time again over the past few days)

  7. No matter how much said picky eaters may eat at a given meal, the minute any mention is made of snack time, they are all DYING OF HUNGER! And not one of them will turn down sweets or other goodies.

  8. Parents are often more upset or worried by their Brownie's first night away from home than the Brownie herself!

  9. It really is incredible just how much a Brownie can do on her own when she puts her mind to it - whether it is fixing her own hair, peeling and chopping a knobbly potato, or managing not to loose her underwear. (a prime example was the Brownie who managed to lose THREE pairs of underwear on a single overnight last year, who earned the "luggage organization" prize at camp this year)

  10. All the stress of being a leader evaporates the instant a small hand slips into yours on a hike, or arms are thrown sleepily around you along in a good night/good morning hug, or a new Brownie earnestly exclaims "I like you Sarah-leader!

    Yours truly, according to one of my Brownies

Camp was good fun. But I'm rather glad I'm home for the next 10 days. I've got a museum translation contract to keep me from being bored, but no big plans.

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