Two weeks ago, Becky and almost all the girls from my Girl Scout troop packed up their backpacks, grabbed their sit-upon buckets, and spent a week at our local GS Service Unit day camp.
After the onslaught of an unheard of amount of rain here in SW Ohio during early June (we had one storm that turned our backyard into a raging creek), the mud at our local Girl Scout camp was - in a word - EPIC. See?
That area is the flag area, the one bit of open field at the day camp site where all 400 or so girls (that's 800 or so stomping feet) gathered each morning and afternoon for the open and close of the day. After more rain that week, and a daily application of straw, it looked -- and smelled -- like a cow pasture by Friday.
But the girls didn't care; getting good and muddy is what you're supposed to do at camp.
I spent Wednesday up at camp, volunteering with Becky's unit. This is her third year at day camp and my third year as well; it's usually one of my favorite days of the year because I love hanging out under the trees and playing in the creek as much as the girls do.
But this year, despite all the rocking camp songs that we were singing (including my new fave, the funky Humpty-Dumpty), I spent Wednesday feeling a bit off.
Maybe it was just because I was tired. School had ended for Becky and Huck the prior Wednesday meaning I hadn't yet gotten a break from our get up and go-go-go! schedule every morning. Add to that the game schedules for both t-ball and softball every night and the necessity of doing laundry after I'd finally gotten the gang tucked into bed (Becky's muddy camp clothes), and I was just whupped.
It was more than just normal mom-fatigue. There was a healthy dose of volunteer-fatigue mixed in as well. Running a Girl Scout troop - from meetings, to fundraising, to making sure the girls all get the chance to try new experiences that they might not have otherwise - is a big task, one with seemingly endless opportunities for random paperwork. It wears me down.
But then I walked into camp on Thursday night, just in time to get at the end of the dinner line, and the fatigue fugue started lifting.
I saw girls dressed in their camp clothes - bandanas, and boots and muddy camp t-shirt covered by Sharpie autographs of fellow Girl Scouts - happy to just. be. girls.
There was no competition to see who was the better soccer player, or dancer, or student.
There were no boys there to preen or primp for.
There were no fashion divas flaunting their wardrobes.
In this age of uber-marketed tweeniness, it was - is - refreshing to see young girls acting like kids again.
After dinner, I was tasked with creek duty which sounds more important than it really was; I stood on the small bridge and made sure none of the girls wandered too far in their hunt for crawdaddies, salamanders, frogs, and water snakes.
As I walked down the hill to the creek, four or five of the girls in my troop spotted me; all of them surrounded me, shrieking my name, and hugging me, all saying some version of:
"Late night at day camp is THE BEST, Mrs. Thomas!!"
Thanks, girls, for reminding me why I do what I do.