“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
Girl Scouts. Two words that either filled a girl of 14 with excitement or dread. You either loved it or you hated it. Fortunately for me, I loved it and that is when my love of camping started. I had just moved to a new town and was invited by a classmate to join her Senior Girl Scout Troop. I’d been in Girl Scouts since I was a Browne, but the troops I was in had never really camped a lot. That all changed when I became a member of Mrs. Boyd’s senior troop! My life as a Girl Camper had begun!
It was the spring of my 9th grade year, and even though it was technically a year early my fellow 9th grade friend asked me to join this troop with her. We lived in Corpus Christi, Texas and the troop was a “Mariner” troop.. meaning that they had a special interest in sailing and boating. And we lived by the ocean – so what could be more amazing than that! And there was a huge lake with a scout camp about an hour away… and the council owned their own boats!
I quickly fell in love with all things camping related and loved learning new things. We pitched our tents, built our fires, cooked our meals, sailed our boats and paddled our canoes. One of our fellow scouts played guitar so we sang by the campfire each night before scaring each other with ghost stories before heading to the latrine before it was time to turn in. It was a magic time!
Weekends would find us at Camp Greenhill by Lake Corpus Christi. I learned to canoe there, and to sail a small sunfish sail boat. One of my favorite memories of Camp Greenhill was the sweet camp deer who lived there the entire time I camped there. Her name was Tinkerbell and she wore a bell around her neck. She loved to visit our campsite around meal time, hoping that we would share our food with her. If we didn’t, she knew where to find it when we were finished – the trash cans!
I was so fortunate to have a Girl Scout leader like Mrs. Boyd. It seemed her goal was to help us experience as much as we could through scouting. My first summer in her troop we took a 3 week road trip from Corpus Christi, Texas to Ten Sleep, Wyoming to National Center West. From 1968 to 1989, The Girl Scouts operated this 15,000-acre National Girl Scout camp from 1968 until 1989. The Scouts closed and sold the camp because of the high maintenance costs, but it was an incredible place. I had a true wilderness experience there as we backpacked through the mountains crossing ice cold streams, sleeping in tiny pup tents and carrying everything we needed in our backpacks. I learned to ride a horse that summer too! Like I said earlier – you either love it or you hate it… and I loved it!
The summer before my senior year of high school we rode a train from the southern border town of Laredo, Texas down to Mexico City where we stayed overnight in a hostel before taking a scary bus ride up into the mountains to Our Cabana. Our Cabana is located in Cuernavaca, Mexico and is one of five “World Centers” for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides. I worked an entire year babysitting and filing at a bank to save up half of the cost for this trip and my incredible parents paid the other half so I could go. It was a once in a lifetime experience and meeting other girls from all over the world truly sparked a flame deep within my soul that left me yearning to help other girls have the same opportunities through scouting that I had.
Camping memories are the best. It’s fun to look back at these once in a lifetime experiences that shaped me into the Girl Camper I am today. I still have that longing and desire to help other girls find the same joy that I do in exploring new places, learning new things, sleeping under the stars or cooking over a campfire. It doesn’t matter how old we are, deep down inside that’s that eager little girl spirit that we need to nurture and help grow.
I would love to hear about your early camping memories! Feel free to share them in the comments below… And never stop going places and doing things! We are Girl Campers, after all!
Happy Trails… Shari Sullivan
Colorado Front Range Girl Camper Guide
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