I’m disappointed as we drive up to the long driveway to Racoon Run. I expected a quaint little wooden cottage in the center circle of camp, not a standard 1950s era ranch home with hardwood floors and original fixtures.
We are the first of our troop to arrive because Lauren was too excited to wait at home any longer and it took less time to get to camp than I expected. A rack of long-handled pie irons and campfire forks next to the stove and the S’more magazines on the kitchen counter confirm that we are in the right place.
We wander through the little house. It doesn’t take long to see the tiny compartmentalized interior — kitchen, small dining room, living room with large picture window, a hallway with a bathroom and two small bedrooms branching off. The entirety of the house’s floor plan would fit into most of the kitchen/great room space you find in the mini-mansions that are standard single-family homes today.
There is no furniture except for a few folding chairs, a collapsible table, and three metal cots piled high with 4-inch camp mattresses, so I sit on the floor next to my overnight bag, sleeping bag, and pillow and read a few pages of “Geek Love” on my Kindle while the girls sit in the center of the room playing Uno.
Ten minutes later, two more girls and the troop leader arrive. They’re jubilant and excited at having landed in Racoon Run.
“I told them as soon as we drove up, you know what this means, right, girls?” the leader says. “Indoor plumbing! I told Kaitlyn to stop drinking an hour ago because I wasn’t going to be walking her to the bathroom in the freezing cold at 2 a.m.”
Suddenly, my view of the little white house changed. Not only did we not have to walk in the cold to go to the bathroom, but we didn’t have to share sleeping space either. It would be just our little troop.
Racoon Run rocks.
The six girls make their beds out of mattress pads stacked four high in the living room. We three moms each pick a squeaky cot. I’m glad to have it. Sleeping on the floor is fun when you’re 11, not so much 30-plus years later.
At 7:30 p.m., we bundle up and trek to Thompson Hall where we meet up with the rest of the scouts—mostly Daisies and Brownies—and their moms. The hall fills quickly. There are nearly 100 signed up for Mom-and-Me Winter Memories weekend. We spend the evening sipping hot chocolate, discussing appropriate winter wear, belting out raucous sing-a-long songs, and wrapping toilet paper around little girls in an indoor snowman building contest.
The next day brings perfect weather for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowman building. We play outside all day, going into Thompson Hall a few times to eat and warm up with cocoa and a game of Clue.
As the only cadettes at camp, the girls serve as color guard for the closing ceremonies at 2 p.m. After we sing Taps, send a squeeze through the Friendship Circle, and are officially dismissed, Lauren looks sad.
She looks at me and says, “I wish I could start this day over.”
“Oh?” I say, somewhat surprised as “starting over” is a phrase we use when morning or day has gone badly and we want to wipe the slate clean and try again.
“Yeah, so then we could do all this stuff and have all this fun again,” she says.
“Me, too,” I say as we walk back to Racoon Run to pack up camp.
I think about how when I was their age, I was too “cool” for Girl Scouts. I was into boys and makeup and I’d have sooner died than spend a weekend hanging out with my mom.
I’m thankful that they are still involved because the values the Girl Scouts promote are the same values that mean everything to me when it comes to raising girls — kindness, compassion, independence, resourcefulness, tenacity, respect (for self and others) and the power of the sisterhood.
Society pits woman against woman. So many things/people encourage us to tear each other down, but we’re so much more powerful when we support and lift one other up.
About Just Write “What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”