Little rebels at girl guide camp
I was nine, the summer before fourth grade, a one-hour bus ride away from my TV and kiddie pool at home.
I was at Girl Guide camp, in a tent with three other girls, and only one who shared my dispassion for sewing and other badge-earning activities, Nikkia.
While the other girls delighted in safety-pinning beaded crafts and patches onto their bright blue bucket hats, we made holes in ours and threw them in the mud, hoping that would be an ample enough excuse not to wear them. (No such luck, we found).
At our turn to direct campfire songs, we picked Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know”, and did skits from Saved by the Bell when we were supposed to have adhered to our original theme of forgiveness, not to mention the approved list of camp songs in the Girl Guides camping bible.
We cut our own hair in our canvas beige tent during free time and came out laughing at each other’s botched mops. (Mum was not so impressed when we had a wedding to attend the day after my return). The leaders nearly burst out of their pooch-enhancing mom jeans wondering what they’d tell our parents. At our turn for dishes, we ran water over everything and then ran around the campfire, waving plates, flinging water droplets on all the well-behaved girl guides, before returning the still-dirty plates and cups to everyone’s ditty bags.
During hide and go seek in the dark after dinner one night, we ran into the forest beyond the boundaries the leaders took 20 minutes explaining. We nearly peed laughing as we heard them yell our names and saw their flashlight beams dancing.
“We just thought you couldn’t find us, it was in the boundary, wasn’t it?” Back then I was a good liar.
Our pièce de resistance was when we decided we would pierce our own ears. We had a safety pin we’d run through hot water and the flames of a burnt s’more the night before. We bit on rolled up undershirts as we took turns shoving the pin through the top of each other’s right ear. I remember squinching my eyes shut and using another girl’s red flannel nightie to clean up the blood. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea, but I have a cool scar, and cool scar stories are fun at grown-up campfires.
Girl guide camp solidified my distaste for nature-related crafts, baby-talking, and morality-related activities best suited for an after-school special. I also learned from my decision not to pack my own snacks, as Girl Guide meals left me perpetually hungry for something of the junk food variety.
Nikkia and I wrote each other one letter each upon our return from camp, but after that lost touch as we both giggled and ran around our own neighbourhoods. I’m glad for my partner in crime, and happier still to be one of two girls at that camp with real memories, fun stories beyond, “This one time, at girl guide camp, I stayed up late past 10!”