By: Kylie Pierce, Troop Leader in Rome
The passing of Memorial Day always bring summer to mind, and for me, summer has always brought to mind summer camp. With the new camp session fast approaching, girls have many wonderful opportunities to get to know the outdoors and learn skills that will improve their lives, both indoors and out.
When I was a Junior Girl Scout, I attended summer camp. My family had often gone camping, but there was something very special about sharing a camp experience with my peers. I remember the anticipation of getting ready for our troop camping trip. We spent the weeks leading up to the big day making pies with a pie iron, learning basic first aid and completing a variety of camp crafts designed to make us better prepared for spending time outdoors. Fires were set up and lit, then put out, set up and lit again. We made teepees and rafts out of tinder and kindling only to watch them turn into top-notch campfires. I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in marshmallows and graham crackers.
I worked as a Girl Scout Camp counselor when I was in college, at the former Camp Near Wilderness in West Monroe, New York. In the spirit of generations of camp counselors, I adopted a nickname (Bink), brushed up on camp songs, and looked forward to a summer spent in the woods and fresh air. I worked with counselors from all over the world: England, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, New Zealand, and America. I learned that ducks in Hungary say “Hop Hop” instead of “Quack Quack” from my fellow counselor Ducky, and am still in touch with Kiwi from New Zealand, who recently welcomed her first baby into the world. Pip, Dormouse, and Foxy, Girl Guides from England, teased us about our American “accents.” I was an expert at creating “buddy lines” from buddy blobs, using a BIFFY in the middle of the night, taking short showers, and making pita pizzas. As a trip leader, I got to make a trek to the Boy Scout’s Camp Massawepie as an ambassador for our program, and lead girls in canoeing and rock climbing. I made some great friends and learned a lot about life, both human and wild.
The memory of my camp experiences have stuck with me, even these 15 years later. I still remember the smell of the canvas in the cabin tents. I remember the names of the units and where they were located, and can still walk through them in my minds eye. I still drive by the camp and wonder whether it remember all the fun and friendships that blossomed there. Summer camp has a way of getting under your skin and into your soul, and I hope every Girl Scout gets the opportunity to go once in her life. Whether it be Hoover, Amahami, Comstock or Trefoil, I can personally guarantee that it will be an unforgettable experience.