Monday, September 24, 2012

Brownie Campout

This weekend Little Reader and I went on her first Brownie campout. We stayed in cabins at a very nice YMCA camp in Wisconsin.

We started off with horseback riding at a stable on the way to the camp. It was raining most of the ride up but had stopped by the time everyone got there. Little Reader was the first to get saddled up and she was a little nervous never having ridden a horse before. I have to admit I was a little nervous too. The last time I rode a horse I was in 3rd grade and I think it was technically a pony. I didn't tell her that though as I wanted her to feel like there was no reason to be nervous, cause there really wasn't.

We were led by a guide and took about an hour ride on a trail through the forest. It was really pretty and I would have taken pictures but was too nervous to let go of the reins and saddle to fish the camera out of my pocket. We all had very easygoing horses, so everyone was fine and enjoyed it.

We headed a bit further North to our camp and settled in and had lunch. The cabin was extremely nice - 2 levels with 8 rooms with 4 bunks each, 4 full baths. The lower level had a full kitchen, ping pong table, living room with sunken fireplace. Plenty of room for 13 girls and their Moms (especially since 6 people didn't even spend the night).

After lunch we went to the cabin to make our snack. The leaders had found a cute poem about the meaning of Girl Scouts. Each girl had been assigned an ingredient that symbolized that trait (predetermined by the leaders). We dumped them all into a huge garbage bag, gave it a few good shakes and scooped up cups into Ziploc Bags for everyone of Kix, M&Ms, popcorn, pretzels, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and a couple of other things. It was pretty good, and a cute idea. Ok, there was a minor technical difficulty when the bag ripped due to the weight of the M&Ms and chips but we solved that quickly.

Next was the archery range. The girls all got a few turns and Little Reader had a couple of really good shots. The Moms all got to try too. I have to admit I surprised myself by actually hitting one about 2 inches from the bulls eye. I'm normally not good at these aiming things.

Then we headed to the climbing wall. Little Reader had tried it at Indian Princess so immediately suited up. There was a zip line in the same area and she was a little disappointed we weren't doing it, but she's done that before (and will again) at the Indian Princess campouts. Most of the girls made it all the way to the top, and a couple went twice. None of the Mom's did this one.

Last was the low ropes course. There were about 8 different sections that you had to get through. Some you could get through solo, but most required some teamwork. Nobody set any records on this one, but they did all have fun and worked together well.

At that point we were done with our scheduled activities for the day, but our camp leader suggested we try out the tube slides before dinner. I was picturing alpine slides, but when we got there we saw long corrugated black tubes with some pretty beat up cracked sleds next to them. There were a bunch of Dads there with an Indian Princess group who laughed when we asked where the good sleds were. Those were the good sleds. The daredevils went first and pretty soon all the girls were going and they had a blast. A few of the Moms went too - not me. I'm not a fan of tight dark places even if you could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

After dinner we went back to our cabin and made a craft. Fleece pillows that you tie and stuff. Everyone signed each others. It was cute, and they were all excited about them.

Around 730, our camp coordinator came back to walk us to our campfire. It was just a brief walk through the woods but we never would have found it in the dark. They had already built the fire for us, and the two camp employees led us in silly sing a long. After that we made smores and then headed back to our cabin.

The girls were all pretty hyped up on chocolate at this point, so started getting a bit crazy. We managed to get them in pjs and started a game of charades (thankfully the Moms were just the audience, I hate charades). They had a lot of fun playing, and once they were doing well one of the Mom's brought out a box of wine, which actually was pretty decent - Bota box red zin.  We all turned in around 11, and Little Reader and I slept until about 7.

After a quick breakfast we headed out to the marsh right by our cabin for a nature walk. The leaves have started to turn a little bit so it was really pretty. The girls all picked wildflowers and cattails along the way.  IT was a fun weekend and although it was chilly we had clear weather the whole time.  One of the great things about the trip was that it was largely paid for with money the girls are earned selling cookies last year.  

On the way home we stopped at Mars' Cheese Castle. If you have ever crossed the Illinois/Wisconsin border on I-94 you've seen this place. It's an over the top cheese store. They have every kind of cheese you could imagine (some of the stranger ones were Chocoloate Gouda Fudge and Blueberry Gouda). They have cheese breads and other baked goods, lots of candy and chocolate, all kinds of interesting sodas, and Packers paraphernalia. It's worth a stop and a peek if you're passing by.

We got home around lunch time and had a little time to relax before her soccer game. Her team won again. She had one shot on goal that went wide and a few other good plays.

It was fun to spend time with her one on one since we so rarely get to do that anymore. I enjoyed watching her interact with her friends and having fun.  I also liked getting to know her classmates a little better and was glad to find out that the ones I find annoying she did too.  She's much more social and confident than I am. There was a piano in our cabin and she played her current piece quite a few times just because she wanted to (I would have been embarrassed to do that in case someone heard me mess up). Then again she plays better than I do. But she's good advertising for her teacher - three different people asked where she takes lessons as they wanted to start their children on piano.

It was good to finally get to really talk to the other Moms. It's funny when your kids are babies/toddlers you have lots of time to chat with other Moms at pickup/dropoff/play time etc. As they get older those opportunities go away. Our school lets 3rd graders walk home on their own and many do.  For the most part the Moms are a good bunch. There are a couple who I think are a little too hands off and let their kids get away with too much, but also some who I discovered were more fun than I had expected.

When we came home and I told my husband about our trip he joked about the difference between Moms and Dads planning a campout. They don't have a "concierge" who coordinates and leads activities and prebuilds the campfire. They don't do a cute craft or make their own snacks. Their cabins are a bit more rustic and no one showers (or plays piano). Still we all have fun with our kids and that's what matters.

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