Thursday, June 21, 2012

Special Event: Tent Camping

After the permission slips and kit list went out, @Jenn_Boot posted this picture showing dishes in mesh bags drying on a line, and I thought it was a perfect illustration to our parents as to why we ask for dishes in mesh bags at camp. So I sent an email to them, showing them this picture and giving them a link to the 64th Guides blog post on How to Pack for Camp. We have a number of first year Guides who have never been tent camping and I wanted to ensure the parents knew that there were reasons for everything we put on the kit list.
I kept a close eye on the weather all week, and no matter how many times I looked at it, there was going to be rain on Saturday, and we most likely wouldn't be putting the tents away dry. But there's no point cancelling because the food and supplies are already bought, and as long as you're dressed properly, the rain shouldn't be a problem.

Our Quartermaster had a great idea for packing her van with supplies--cookies boxes! Each box was filled with supplies for each activity and marked on the outside so it could be found easily. They stacked up neatly for transport and we could use them for the campfire when we were done! I need supplies for box ovens? Pull out the box and inside is wide, heavy duty tin foil, duct tape and scissors, empty pop cans, foil pie plates, and grills! It was very handy and organized.

6:30 Arrival--Most years, we scramble to get the tents up as everyone is arriving and it's total chaos, because that's the way it's been done in the past. This year, I thought it through and it's not like it's getting dark soon after we arrive. We have time to have orientation, get the girls organized into tent patrols, and then have them set up their own individual tents.

I wanted to get my tent set up first though. I arrived early, and started peacefully setting up my tent by myself. It was going well at first, but then I put one of the wrong poles in. I pulled it out, and then another Guider arrived and I was talking to her as I put the pole back in, and didn't I put the exact same wrong one in! So frustrating! But I did eventually get the tent put up properly.
As the girls were arriving, the parents weren't leaving, so one of the Guiders gathered all the girls and took them to the far end of the campsite and played Stella Ella Ola with them, trying to give the parents the hint!

7:15 Orientation (BC#4, BC#5, BC#9)--I can never remember everything, so I printed out the Safe Guide Tenting in Established Campground
Participants should be instructed on:
 Location layout and out of bounds areas
 Emergency procedures and what to do if lost
 Campfire safety (hair tied back, no loose clothing, no reaching across fire, no rambunctious play near the fire)
 What to do if clothing catches fire
 Proper hygiene
 Cooking, stove, fire and food safety guidelines
 “Leave no trace” guidelines
 Disposal of waste (garbage, food, grey water)
 Night time trips to toilet
 Wildlife sightings or encounters
 Expectations for behaviour
 Any facility specific rules

We also discussed what program we'd be working on, which included the following:

Beyond You: Explore the Outdoors and Nature (BY2)

Basic Camper (BC)

Campfire Leading (CL)
Exploring (E)
Outdoor Cooking (OC)

We handed out Camp Challenge Booklets, which I found on the Canadian Guider blog. For each activity that they completed, they could earn a bead. We thought about giving them strings to tie the beads to, but we ended up giving them little mesh bags to store them in that they could pin to their hats if they wanted.

We also gave them little pouches from the Dollar Store that hung around the neck, and in the pouch was a pencil, a pen, a notebook, and their mesh bag for beads. This way, they would have all the tools they needed to work on their challenge books when they wanted.

8:00 Set up Tents--Once all the administration was out of the way, it was time to start camping! We let the girls divide themselves up into four groups of four and a group of five. We had five tents and five leaders, so each leader guided the girls on setting up their tents, letting them do it all and offering advice when needed. It was much smoother and less chaotic than usual--this was definitely the way to go! There were no parents jumping in to help them--they did it all themselves and gave them a sense of accomplishment. (BY2#4, BC#3)

8:45 Campfire! I love campfire. I learned some new songs to teach the girls. I found Sierra's Song Book when I was looking for the lyrics to D-I-S-C-O. I looked for some songs that I didn't know and downloaded the mp3s, figured out which ones I liked and put them on my iPod and listened to them a few times each morning on the way to work so that I could learn them. I taught them Moose Song and Sixties Party. The girls from the other unit knew Hippo Song so I had them lead that for us too. Another good site for lyrics (and campfires in general) is Guiding with Guider Dusk. (CL#1, BC#3)
Sixties Party is one of those songs that's really fun to sing and teach, but be careful, because the girls loved it and if we heard it once, we must have heard it 60 times over the course of the weekend!

For mug-up we made nachos in the fire. We had small tin foil pans (one per girl) and put tortilla chips and cheese in them and covered them in foil and threw them on the hot coals to melt the cheese. Then our Quartermaster passed out salsa and sour cream to go with it, and everyone loved the snack!

10:30 After campfire, we dug a spit pit for teeth brushing and then got the girls ready for bed. We reminded them to change EVERYTHING, head to toe, before bed. There's no way to guarantee that they listen to us, but we stress it every year!

Within 5 minutes of everyone being in the tents, we heard our racoon friend banging into the garbage can, looking through tin foil scraps for food. One of these years, we'll remember to weigh down the garbage can lid on the first night!

7:00 Wake up! The girls were to get dressed and roll up their sleeping bags before coming out to get breakfast ready. Though it wasn't raining yet, we were expecting rain for the day so we strung up a tarp and poles to extend our dining shelter/kitchen, to give the girls somewhere to cook and stay dry. 
 8:00 Breakfast--We had four campstoves for the girls to divide up into 4 cooking patrols. We made the patrols in the order they arrived, so whoever was ready to cook formed a patrol. There were 5-6 girls in each cooking patrol, and we had three meals we'd be cooking on stoves, so for each meal, two girls were responsible for setting up and lighting the stoves, and then taking them apart when the meal was over. Even if both burners weren't needed at each meal, each girl got a chance to light a burner and figure out how to get the stove working. (BY2#2, OC#1, OC#5, BC#3)

The girls made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Each stove only had one frying pan, so they cooked the bacon first, and then each girl cooked her own pancake.

In the Challenge Booklet, the girls could eat with chopsticks (found at the Dollar Store) or blindfolded (we brought scarves for them). Of course, some girls went with both options!
9:00 Clean-up After breakfast was clean-up. We told each patrol that they were responsible for their pots and pans as well, and that they had to make sure that everyone took a turn on clean-up within their Patrols. (OC#7, BC#3)

(At this point, we were already behind schedule. I don't know what we were thinking, only allowing 1 hour for breakfast and clean-up, when it always takes 1.5-2 hours!)

Program--We had planned to have four stations that they could rotate through, but with the rain, we realized we really only had 2 good dry spots for teaching and learning. It made the groups bigger for teaching, which isn't always ideal, but we seemed to manage okay. One group went under the tarp on one side of the dining shelter and the other group went under the alcove of trees on the other side of the dining shelter.

Station 1: Compasses--I wasn't involved in this station so I don't know everything they did. We had enough compasses for everyone to use. The Guider made a demonstration compass out of cardboard, which was great for showing them how to use a compass so everyone could see. Once they learned how to use the compass, she got them to turn and face a certain direction, to see who could find it on their own. Then they started wandering, though I'm not sure what their activity for that was. (BY2#3)
Station 2: Knots--Again, this wasn't my station, so I don't know the ins and outs and which knots were taught. I do know that she printed out the Knot Quick Reference from e-patches and crests. One of the Challenges in the booklet was to tie as many reef knots in a minute as you can, and they did this. They learned how to tie a noose. We gave them each about 1 m of rope--again, the Dollar Store has some good soft rope for $1.50 for 15 m. (BY2#4)

Station 3: Camp clothing--at OAL Training, one of our Guiders got a set of "mittens" made out of various materials--denim, fleece, microfleece, polyester, flannel, wool, nylon, cotton--that you dip in water and hang up, and then check back on to see how quickly they dry. The girls all got small squares of material on a safety pin to make a hat craft to remember this by. The nylon and wool dried fairly quickly, and the denim was still wet on Sunday morning. (BY2#2, E#8)

She also showed them how to make and use fire starters, though they didn't make them themselves. One that was new to me was a cotton make-up remover pad dipped in paraffin wax. To use it, you rip it and then light it on fire. She gave one to each of them to put in their Be Prepared kits.

Station 4: Box Ovens--I taught the girls how to make their box ovens that we would be using later that day. Basically, we lined bankers boxes/paper ream boxes with tin foil, and used duct tape on the outside of them to hold the tin foil in place (we didn't put duct tape on the inside). Both lid and base needed tin foil and make sure that no cardboard is showing. Poke holes through the tin foil where handles to box are. Inside, we used two pie plates, one upside down and the other right side up on top of it to hold the charcoal. We used four empty pop cans (you can put water or rocks in them for weight) and a small grill (from the Dollar Store!) (OC#3)

10:00: Two Stations--Knots and Compasses

11:00: One Station--either Clothing or Box Ovens. While we were doing these stations, the compass Guiders were setting up 5 compass courses for the girls to do later.

11:30: Snack: Smores to go--Baggies with Golden Grahams cereal, Teddy Grahams, chocolate chips, and marshmallows. Since it was raining and cool, they also got hot chocolate to go with it. Some of the girls had the idea to put their marshmallows into their hot chocolate--good idea! Then they put their chocolate chips in too--bad idea! We wanted a quick clean-up of the mugs, but the chocolate chips stuck to the bottom.

11:45: One station--Clothing or Box Ovens

12:15: Compass Trails--the girls followed their compass trails in groups--using directions and steps, i.e. take 20 steps NW. They had 5 or 6 directions to follow, and at the end of the trail, they found a baggie with beads in it for each of them. (E#5, BC#6)

12:45: First Aid and Fire Safety--I had the girls line up across the field. I used the same game we used last year, because we're doing the same badge (Outdoor Cooking). I would read the statement and if they agreed, they took two steps forward and if they disagreed, they stayed still. They couldn't move until I had read the full statement and then said Go so they all moved at the same time. If they went early, they went back to the beginning to restart. If they were wrong, they had to take two steps back. If they made to me, I gave them a candy and they went back to the beginning to try again. They each got two candies by the end, either way. Most girls made to me at least once. (OC#6, OC#8, BC#4) First Aid and Fire Safety Facts (Word doc)

1:00 Lunch Time--They made hot dogs and Kraft Dinner on the camp stoves. Some girls had never seen fried hot dogs before and one girl got concerned when there was a "red line on my hot dog!" It was just where it was cooking. They also had veggies (cucumbers and carrots) and dip to go with lunch. The rain had stopped by lunch, though it was still cloudy at this point. (BY2#2, OC#1, OC#5, BC#3)
2:30: Free time after lunch clean up. I also handed out folders to them, which contained information on how to plan a campfire, and a list of songs that we've sung (the index and table of contents to my personal song book that I created of songs I know and love). They had a planning sheet and they could plan their campfires during free time and we would give them a warning when they had 15 minutes left and had to plan.

3:15: Campfire planning time And the sun came out! The girls all changed into shorts and t-shirts during free time. (CL#6)

3:30: Make cupcakes--They used a mix, and each group made 8 cupcakes in their box ovens. (OC#3)

While they were cooking, we let them go play in the river. They were supposed to keep the water to midpoint of their rubber boots. We kept a close eye on them and spent most of the time yelling at them. :) When they came out, if both of their feet were still dry, they got a bead for behaving. We gave out very few beads. :)

4:15: Mini campfires--We split the girls up into 5 groups and each group went with a leader, and got to lead a 15-minute campfire program (no actual fire was involved). We told them they didn't have to do it (but then they wouldn't earn the badge). Four or five girls indicated that they didn't want to do it, but once we got into the smaller groups, everyone lead their campfire and everyone earned the badge! (CL#6, CL#7, BC#7)

5:15: Free time The girls could come to us during free time to get credit for their Challenge Booklets and collect their beads.

6:00 Supper--We had tacos in a bag. The girls cooked up the hamburger and added taco seasoning to it, and then put it in a baggie with lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, and salsa and ate right out of the bag. (BY2#2, OC#1, OC#5, BC#3)

While we ate supper, I asked each girl what her favourite hike we'd been on this year was and why. It was hard to choose, because we'd done a lot of fun hikes! (E#6)

After supper, they got to decorate and eat their cupcakes. There was vanilla icing, and chocolate icing, and sprinkles!

8:00 Campfire--By the time everyone had eaten and gotten all the dishes cleaned up, it was time for campfire again! We sang our international folk songs (My Aunt Grete--Netherlands, Tongo--Africa) and historical folk songs (Land of the Silver Birch, Happy Wanderer), plus lots of other favourites. (CL#2, CL#3, BC#7)

Campfire snacks was campfire cones! We had seen them on Pinterest and thought they looked delicious. Unfortunately, some of them were in the coals for too long and got burnt--we think they didn't have enough marshmallows in them and the chocolate burned too quickly. The girls liked them, but I think they actually prefer Smores! I liked my campfire cone. :)

10:30 Get ready for bed


7:00 Wake up time again! We woke up to rain again, but it stopped fairly soon after we got up. Not enough that we were going to be able to get the tents dry before we packed up though. The girls had to get dressed and packed up and move their gear out of the tents before they could come to breakfast.

8:00 Breakfast--easy breakfast for Sunday morning. Cereal cups with milk, strawberry pop tarts, and fruit. When they finished eating, they were to take their dishes and pack them away too.

9:30: Strike camp--Each patrol took their tent down and packed it away, with the guidance of a leader. There were five Guiders and 5 girl tents, so we were each responsible to take one home to dry out. (BY2#4, BC#3)

10:30 Guide's Own--We started off by singing If All the Raindrops, using the first verse, plus the one about mosquitos and the one about Black Flies. Then we did our Two Apples and an Onion, with everyone saying two good things and one bad thing about camp. The most common bad thing was the outhouse, and I don't think anyone complained about the rain we had. Then we gave out badges and crests that were earned at camp, plus our Cookie All Star crests which had arrived the week before. Then we moved around the campfire and sang Linger and Daytime Taps (which can be found in the Guide Handbook). (BC#7, BC#10)

Parents started arriving around 11, though pick up wasn't until 11:30.

It was a great camp, and the girls were awesome. We didn't have any complaints about being wet, almost all of the girls came properly dressed in rain boots and coats. As Guiders, we boggled at the parents who would send their daughters for a weekend of outdoor camping with no indoor shelter, and still not provide them with the proper gear.

We covered a lot of program, though we probably scheduled a bit too much into the weekend. We didn't have a lot of down time, but then again, the girls didn't complain about that either. We didn't get a lot of requests for "When's Free Time?", which I guess is a good indication that they were enjoying what we were doing with them.

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