“Who are these swinging along the road, with a pack on the back, a song in the heart, to ease the load?
…They are Guides, all Guides!”
Girl Guides to be specific. And I was one of them!
When I was, oh gosh, I don’t know, whatever the age is that you start Brownies, I started Brownies! My mom was one of the leaders and I had quite a few of my friends from school in the group and eventually almost all of us became friends. We did crafts, earned badges, and went camping. We wore brown uniforms and brown sashes that we covered in the badges we earned by learning things like how to build a camp fire, or how to set up a tent, or what the hand signals for biking are. I was in Brownies for three years. In my third year they changed it so that Brownies was only two years long, so we were kind of out of place.
Girl Guides, the next age group up, was much of the same except we wore blue. I was in Girl Guides for three years as well. And during those three years was a huge summer camp called SOAR — Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous! Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from all around the world came together for nine days of camping and activities. There were over one thousand of us and it just so happened to be taking place in my hometown! We created a banner that represented our town (we put a streetlight on it because at the time there was only one streetlight in our town!). That years SOAR was nicknames Scorching SOAR because it was soooooo hot. Seriously, I am amazed we didn’t all get heat stroke and die. Well, I almost died (not really), and it was from heat, but it had nothing to do with the sun. I spilt boiling hot apple cider on my lap and — embarrassingly — had to have my pants ripped off in front of everyone so that they could plop me in one of the giant kitchen sinks to run cold water over my thighs… Oooooh fun. But aside from that it was the best time ever!
After Girl Guides, I quit. I was in high school and many of my friends were not going to continue into Pathfinders so, naturally, neither did I. Until I found out that the next year they were doing SOAR again. So after my one year off, I joined yet again so that I could go to SOAR.
This SOAR was nicknamed Sore SOAR, and for a very good reason. EVERYONE KEPT GETTING HURT. Seriously. The first full day, one of my friends fell and broke her ankle on what was supposed to be an easy hike (if scaling the side of a mountain was easy…) and she had to spend the rest of the camp in a wheelchair and sleeping in the medical tent rather than with our group. There were broken bones, sore muscles, bee stings, red ant bites, cuts and bruises, you name it! Buuuuuut, regardless of all that, it was still so much fun! We even broke a world record (most people doing Ring Around the Rosy at the same time) but even that was a sore event.
They decided it would be a great idea to get everyone down to the field to break the world record by doing a fire drill. Some girls were wearing their bathing suits having come from the shower. Some had been in the middle of making food so they were starving. Some didn’t even have shoes on. And we were there for forever trying to get it right. If anyone broke the ring (which happened a lot because there were fire ants and bees attacking people) we had to start over again. During the final (and successful attempt) my knees gave out. My mom was on one side of me and a friend was on the other, I pushed their hands together and leapt out of the circle. I made damn sure not to break it. And we did it! We finally did freaking ring a round the rosy. Good for us. Now can we all go put some clothes and shoes on and deal with these itchy and sore bug bites? Not to mention the fact that my knees aren’t going to let me get back to our camp site…
After Sore SOAR, I once again quit Girl Guides. But those seven years were some of the best. Sleeping in bottomless tents, adventuring in the forest, playing pranks on the leaders, and singing about flush toilets (we were sick of outhouses). Oh, and don’t forget sit-upon sandwiches!
One thing is for sure, if I have a daughter, she will be in Girl Guides!
A friend of mine informed me that my memory is crap! The cider incident didn’t happen at SOAR, it happened in Brownies! Oops!