Friday, March 18, 2011

the eve of camping

Well, its time for round two with the girl scouts! Spring camping in Florida...of course it is not technically Spring. But, in Florida, spring has sprung, the wisteria are blooming, the azaleas are abud, the air is absolutely saturated with oak pollen, and the insects are beginning to hummm. We are going to a former GS camp near Jax for a night and have a bunch of activities planned. I just hope I am up to the challenge. I will be leading a couple activities and helping with others. I hope my meal-planning works out, and mostly I hope that the girls work a little bit hard, but not so hard they can't enjoy the fun. I know my daughter is nervous about the work part, but it shouldn't be more than a little challenging. This transitioning from helpless baby to competant adult is wicked hard for most of us!
I was remembering the first time I went camping. I was a kid of eleven? twelve? and went to a KOAtype of campground with my friend and her parents. We must have camped on a Friday night, because the next day was a mineral and gem show. I had money to spend and loved rocks, so it was ideal for me. I truly do not remember sleeping in a tent, what I ate or anything else about it except the pleasure of buying my own coveted rocks, and the agony of losing them out of my pocket later that afternoon. Nothing to show for my hard earned allowance. I don't think I cried, but I wanted to. There was no one to blame but myself, and I didn't think of taking my vast disappointment out on anyone. In fact, I think I liked the camping part.
Later, I enjoyed exploring the few 'woodsy' areas of my neighborhood by myself or with friends. As is typical in Florida, some times you can only hike in the springtime dry season, because otherwise, the whole trail is muddy. I remember a fabulous hike through a swamp, traipsing back behind houses, getting yelled at by grumpy old men, barked at by dogs, and climbing up and down these hillocks of compost mud, like sand dunes, but with trees and mangroves growing out of the tops.
When I was sixteen, I went with the church youth group camping in the Ocala National Forest near Alexander Springs. It was near dark when we arrived, but we built a big fire - and we needed it because it got quite cold. I was in a tent with four other girls and we finally gave up even trying to sleep at about five a.m., because we just weren't warm enough. After the bath house run, I lead a small group on a hike in a meadow where we found thousands of animal tracks. I had never seen so many! We saw deer, squirrel, raccoon, and a dog-like print that may have been fox. We visited the spring, but it was far too cold to swim. And I think we headed home after that! I don't think our leaders wanted to stay out another night in that cold! I don't even remember the church-y stuff we did, just the inadequacy of clothing on that freezing night.
However, it won't be that cold where we are going. And we will get to look for the 'super moon rise'. I also hope my bug dope will deter the mosquitos.