My daughter was 7 years old and a Brownie, and I was 42. Since I worked, I could only be a Brownie mother on weekends. Imagine my surprise when my daughter brought home a notice that her troop was going on a camping trip for the weekend at the lake on the estate of a retired movie cowboy.
This Brownie mom had never slept in a tent or cooked over an open campfire, but all that would soon change. I knew it would be interesting, but I had no idea just how interesting it would be.
On the day of our departure, our caravan got lost. When we finally arrived at the front gates of the estate, we were told to go on up the road to the lakeshore. Once there, we spent a good amount of time setting up the tents. Luckily, one of the moms was a former Girl Scout, and she saved the weekend with her camping knowledge.
By the time the tents were assembled, the former Girl Scout showed us how to start a fire, and we proceeded to heat up the spaghetti and meatballs we had brought from home. For dessert, we made s’mores, and then we sang songs and told ghost stories.
About 9 that evening, we retired to our tents. The girls were in one tent, and the Brownie moms were in another. As we prepared to settle in for the night, the former Girl Scout showed all of us, except one mom who brought a banana beach chair to sleep in because of her bad back, how to hollow out the ground and get rid of the rocks, to make sleeping a little more comfortable. With that task completed, we settled down, using our duffel bags for pillows.
Shortly after the lamp was turned off, we heard a hissing sound. The mom closest to me screamed, “Snake,” and as we all scurried around, the banana chair folded up, with its occupant still in it. Someone grabbed a flashlight, and we soon realized the hissing had stopped. Figuring the snake was as frightened as we were and had left for parts unknown, we tried to settle in again. As I rearranged my duffel bag in an effort to make my “pillow” more comfortable, my can of deodorant fell to the ground with the cap off. Yep, the hissing snake was actually my deodorant. So after a lot of laughter, we tried to get some sleep.
Not long after we finally managed to get to sleep, our tent was lit up and we were awaked by a locomotive that sounded like it was about to come straight through the tent. It also woke the girls, and several of them had accidents. So there we were at 3 a.m., trying to find extra pajamas and sleeping bags. Apparently none of us realized how close the railroad tracks were to our campsite.
The new day dawned, and the girls made eggs, bacon and biscuits for breakfast. The rest of the day was spent working on crafts, identifying flora and fauna, making lunch, and swimming in the lake, all while earning their Brownie badges. Then it was time for dinner.
Luckily, the second night went much smoother.
By the end of the weekend, I was nursing a back that wasn’t used to sleeping on the ground. But I knew it was all worth it when my daughter looked at me and said, “I had the coolest mom at the campout.” I was 10 to 15 years older than all the other Brownie moms, so I considered that high praise indeed.
North Hollywood, California
Read more stories about summer activities in Camping Adventures.