since i've had a good bit of camping experience thanks to annual family trips when i was a kid (and a few into adulthood, which turned out to be more fun in some aspects), i'm excited about doing some campouts with the girls. my co-leader - well, let's just say she was less enthusiastic.
we'd received quite a list of items to bring - a tent, a tarp, camping chair, a pocket knife, a mess kit with drip bag. i took the opportunity to finally hit up amazon for the compact folding chair i've been wanting for awhile - look, it fits in this little pouch that goes right into a backpack!
because we'd arrived a little early, we were asked to help with putting together the snack for the attendees. ever heard of GORP? it stands for "good ol' raisins and peanuts," but over the years it's turned into a basic term for trail mix, only more fun to say. come on, say it. it's fun, right? heh. there's apparently a whole girl scout ceremony that some troops do while the girls put it together - "i promise to always be fair and square" while pouring in chex cereal, adding m&ms with "girl scouts are sisters no matter what color they are." you get it. super cheeseball. we didn't do anything like that, although our GORP incorporated gluten-free pretzels, honey-roasted peanuts, cashews, m&ms, chex cereal, and the dreaded raisins.
back outside we were directed to use some sort of knot that i can't remember the name of to tie our drip bags to the clothesline.
apparently, this is some sort of portable message board we should plan on using when we go on campouts. it includes things like a "camp clock," which is an itinerary of the day's activities, a list of recipes and assignments for meals, and a kaper chart, which assigns each scout to a duty.
we sat in a circle while the instructors gave us the breakdown of what we were going to be doing that day, and then went around for introductions. there were leaders from all over southern california, and we weren't even the ones who'd driven the farthest.
after that, we were broken up into three carefully separated groups. if you'd arrived with a buddy, you weren't grouped with her, so that you could meet and mingle with the other ladies present. my first workshop was about tying knots. it wasn't hard to do, but i know i won't remember how to do it off the top of my head.
from there we got a crash course on camping equipment, like stoves and propane lanterns.
and the last stop was all about pocket knives and hatchets. there we learned how to open, pass and close a pocket knife without chopping off any fingers (yes, there were some who didn't know how to do this) and to do the "arc of safety" before doing any sort of cutting or chopping. so basically you have the closed pocket knife or a piece of wood the length of your hatchet, and when you're in position to do whatever cutting you'll be doing you swing the knife up and back and around and in front of you. this just ensures that nothing's in the way while you do your thing - trees, small children, what have you. we learned how to cut up little pieces of tinder out of kindling, and kindling out of chunks of firewood. yeah...me, with a hatchet. scary thought, huh?
when that was all done, we reassembled into our circle of camping chairs to have our GORP snack and learn about different methods of cooking outside.
this stuff that looks like vomit is homemade firestarter, using dryer lint, melted crayons or candles and portioned into used egg cartons. "use your resources wisely" at its very best.
while we weren't able to actually start any fires, the instructors showed us how to lay the firewood out in order to get one going.
here, she was demonstrating how to do box cooking - literally using a box wrapped completely in heavy-duty foil to cook things placed atop a set of four cans with charcoal underneath them. and i learned that each charcoal briquet is good for 20-25 degrees, so if you're trying to bake bread or something that requires a specific temperature you can figure out how many pieces of charcoal to place under those cans.
we were divided into our groups again and handed recipe cards that contained four courses each, and then we split up into smaller groups to tackle each item. i somehow got stuck with something super boring - green salad. and it was funny to watch my co-leader as she made use of the makeshift hand washing station. aside from the restrooms, we were to act as though we were at an actual campsite.
with our super complicated green salad assembled and ready to go, my partner and i walked around watching everyone else as they got all set up with their meal items.
then while everything was cooking, we worked on a "swap" item - little trinkets the girls usually create to give away or trade with other troops when at a large girl scout gathering. this is a hydration reminder - you pin it on and every time you drink a glass of water you move a bead, and once all of the beads are on the other end you've met your hydration requirement for the day.
i took this to give us more ideas on outings and things to do with the girls - her jacket was covered with fun patches she'd collected over the years with her troop.
okay, so the food. remember, all of this was either cooked on a camping stove, in a box, a dutch oven, or some sort of outdoor cooking device using just charcoal or fire. it wasn't pretty, but it was all really tasty. this is vegetarian chili, which i wasn't really excited about because i'm not a bean eater, but it was great with some cheese and sour cream:
the lasagna was made with ground turkey and was delicious.
cornbread was "baked" in an oven bag and steamed inside a device called a "bakepacker."
rice from the camping stove.
the mini meatloaves were done in that box oven.
veggies were wrapped in foil pouches and cooked directly atop lit charcoal briquets.
the garlic monkey bread utilized both the stove and box oven.
brownies from the box oven.
this is some sort of cherry cobbler cooked in a dutch oven. you know i didn't have any of this.
baked apples were done in a foil pouch.
i tried to take a little of everything, and i was so hungry i literally ate it all. i became a member of the clean plate club with this meal.
dishwashing took place outside, too. soapy hot water from the kettles placed on the heat sources was in the first tub, followed by rinsing water in the second tub and then a third tub contained the sanitizing solution of 10 drops of bleach diluted in more warm water. we washed our dishes, placed them back into the drip bag and hung them back up to dry before tackling all of the cooking utensils and pots and things.
when everything was cleaned up, it was time to grab our tents and tarps and set them up on the grassy area behind the scout huts. there were all sorts of tents there - pop-up dome tents like ours, individual tents for backpackers, even a mcmansion tent that would sleep 10.
it was during this time that i managed to snap a picture of the lady in the center wearing the hat and dark sweater. my co-leader had chatted her up a bit as she looked familiar to both of us, and it turns out that she was susan may pratt from super recognizable movies like center stage, 10 things i hate about you, and drive me crazy. i realize this puts me firmly in stalker status, but i don't care. heh.
the last bit of time was spent packing the tents and tarps back up, playing a couple of games to teach our girls and singing some camping songs. i don't mind games, but i pretty much despise singing those corny ass songs. ugh. i suffered through it and then was subjected to being serenaded by my co-leader all the way home.
but training is done! yay! camping can commence - look out world, here we come.