Summer Camp Trip 2011…..

July 17, 2011

……And this would be to Ukraine.  We leave this Thursday and arrive back home that next Friday–8 days in all.

We’ll be helping the Ukrainian social workers with a summer camp for at-risk kids.  …Not sure what we’ll be doing, but I can hardly wait!  Matt, our liason, said that the camp would be “rustic.”  That’s OK by me.  I still remember how to lash 3 sticks together.  Thanks, Miss Nick!

Summer Camp

July 17, 2011

I loved everything about being a girl scout, well, almost everything.  I didn’t like the fact that “Miss Nick,” our troop leader, insisted on such thoroughness with our badge work that it was possible to earn only about one badge each year.  I dreamed of a full badge sash, like the other girls had from other places–out in the larger Girl Scout world that was beyond Galena.  But that was not going to happen with Miss Nick.  She pooh-poohed those sashes full of rows of circle patches, saying that they couldn’t possibly have really covered all of those topics.  So we tried not to be embarassed when we went to the Big Time Places and tried to focus on the good stuff.  And there was plenty of that.

I have vivid memories of the camp outs on her property–a large wooded lot with a hill and I think there might’ve been a stream, but don’t quote me on that.  There was the time when we made Pot O’ Gold for supper–a meal that I thought surely must’ve ranked with the finest in camp cuisine.   The large cans of Campbell’s tomato soup dumped into a huge pot over the campfire held the “gold”:  pressed, wadded-up slices of store-bought white bread filled with squares of Velveeta that melted into glorious goodness that I had never before experienced.

Miss Nick helped us (she did the actual metal cutting) make personal stoves out of  large pineapple juice cans that we had brought from home that our mothers had saved.  She cut 2 vertical lines into the side of the can, then rolled the section up, creating a handle for each stove.  We then used our saved tuna cans as mini burners which we placed on the ground under our larger stoves and cooked our 2 strips of bacon, then our eggs-in-a-frame (bacon first, so the bread and eggs didn’t stick–clever, huh).

We collected firewood (and I can still remember the categories of sizes needed:  tinder, kindling and fuel) and we were proud when our piles got big.  I think it had to be Miss Nick who actually started the fires.  I would’ve thought that she’d be the kind of lady who would rub 2 sticks together to get the needed spark, but I don’t remember that.  I think I can “see” some wadded up newspaper instead.

We learned how to make our personal latrine equipment.  We each lashed 3 short branches of twigs together that we carried with us to place over the hole that we were instructed to dig for our potty needs.   (And I do remember thinking, “Why the 3 sticks?  If we are going to use a hole, well, …anyway, I probably don’t have to spell this out for you, do I?  You probably have the same question.  Don’t you think the “seat” seems a bit superfluous?  But it makes a cool story to have from one’s childhood.)  You can see why it took a whole year to earn one badge.  But it was worth it.

We did have a good time with our summer camp experiences at Miss Nick’s house and I still smile every time I think of Pot ‘O Gold.

Summer Story

July 17, 2011

Sitting around the breakfast table the other day while chatting with a guest, a memory was triggered in my mind–one of those coming-of-age stories that we all have….

We were preparing for the CAVENT–the Cadette Event that 7th and 8th grade Girl Scouts all over the East Coast would attend–and I was one of the lucky ones who would get to go.  I had never been to New York City, so I was beside myself with anticipation.  I don’t remember what we did to get ready, and I don’t remember the trip there.  But I can see myself clearly in my mind’s eye, crossing one of the busy streets in the Big Apple, when all of a sudden, I realized something kind of sad, I guess.  It was a good thing to know, you could say, and it was OK, but it was sad, too.

I had worn my uniform with pride, up to that point.  I thought it was sharp–oh-so-Girl-Scouty–which, as far as I knew, was about as cool as cool could get:  a green skirt with white blouse and sash.  (I don’t know if we wore the hats.  They were not as cool.)  The design was simple and chic.

We were Girl Scouts.  And Cadettes besides, one step away from the oldest girls in scouting.

Because we didn’t have a lot of money, my mother had sewn my green skirt.  I don’t know if she used fabric she’d already had or if she used the only green fabric available at the store, but it was not an exact match to the official uniform color.  But I’d never thought about the fact that it was different.  I had a uniform and that was all that mattered.  I loved it.

I loved my uniform until I got to New York City.  Until I saw all of the other Cadettes with their bright green skirts (next to my dingy moss green skirt) in New York City.  Until I saw all of the New York City people in their New York City clothes and New York City shoes.  My clothes weren’t up to official Cadette standard, and none of the Cadettes’ clothes were up to NYC standards.   I was 2 strikes down.  And I knew it.  And I knew it all at once, while we were crossing that street.

Funny.  That moment on the street is the only thing I remember about the CAVENT.  And I hadn’t remembered any of it until the recent breakfast conversation.  It wasn’t a bad memory, or sad, at this point.  Actually, I’d say it was good.  I had a mother who loved me and cared enough about me to make me a Girl Scout uniform, so that her little girl could be as Girl-Scouty as we could afford, and that was a real gift.

I lived through my time on that NYC street; it didn’t kill me when I realized that the world was bigger than I’d known.  I’d noted it and assimilated it and even remembered it as a kind of a big thing, but I was OK.  No, I was better than OK.  And I am grateful.  Very, very grateful.  Thank you, Lord, for a mom who loved me like that.

Summer Pancakes

July 17, 2011

Ah HA!  I had a score today with the pancakes!

After my last foray into the Pancake World, I didn’t think I’d venture there again soon.  But today’s 4 1/2 year old guest needed them for his breakfast, so I tried it again.  I googled and giggled, (remembering my more discriminating 11 year old guest’s opinion of my pancakes), and when all was said and done, I forgot about Paula Deen and went back to the pancakes I always gave our own little girls (who are quite grown up now but they were little once):  1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 2 T butter, 1 egg, 2 T sugar, 1 T vanilla, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda & a couple of pinches of salt.  BUT I made one change:  I added about 1/4 or so cup of sparkling grape juice (I had a bit left over from our anniversary guests the other day) because one of the recipes that I’d googled had given that as a tip for light, fluffy pancakes.  AND IT DID THE TRICK!  I added some blueberries and made a special butter:  I added honey and almond extract along with a few pinches of mace (which was to die for, if I do say so myself) and served them with warm blueberry syrup.  Our little guy’s assessment of my pancakes today?  “Tastes like a lollipop,” which was a 100% endorsement, in case you need a translation.  SCORE!

Location, Location, Location.

You might notice the WAC Administration Building cupola out of the corner of your eye as you walk onto Simply Bed & Bread's brick path, since our house is just a stone's throw away from the college. Or it might be the ...
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