Need a Summer Re-Start

My kids have been out of school for less than a week.  Wait, is that really possible??  (Consulting calendar)  Yes . . . the youngest “graduated” from 8th grade a week ago today and the oldest finished up 10th grade last Thursday.  So we’re just one week into summer break.

And it hasn’t been an easy week.  I’d like to re-wind and start over.

The first weekend of summer (last weekend), we scheduled to have a few of my Scouts “camp” here so they could knock out a bunch of their cooking requirements.  By Saturday afternoon everyone was tired, crabby, hot, and definitely didn’t want to do their required cooking.  By 9:30 Saturday night, we had slogged through the cooking and a few other requirements and kids went home early.  But not before we had tears and me swearing I was done with Scoutmaster-ing.

However, it wound up being a great thing that kids went home early because Sunday morning, we were awoken by our beloved 6 year old, yellow Lab having a full-blown grand mal seizure.  It was terrible.  Absolutely awful and terrifying.  We were all hysterical.  Then, it got worse.  When he stopped seizing, he was completely disoriented, didn’t recognize any of us and became extremely aggressive.  He was snarling, growling, barking and definitely would have bitten.  We finally got him outside without anyone being bitten.  But having their best friend lunge at them sent my kids over the edge.  And left me wondering how on earth I was going to get my snarling dog in a crate and to the vet.

Thankfully, he returned to himself within about 15 minutes, let me put a leash on him, got in a crate (which he never, ever goes in) and off to the emergency vet we went.  Since then, he hasn’t had any more seizures.  We followed up with our regular vet yesterday and started medication, which he’ll have to have twice a day for the rest of his life.

The vet said that, should he have another seizure, the extreme aggressiveness will likely be his pattern.  So  now we have a “dog seizure protocol”.  Its been traumatic.

And finally, my oldest has decided to change Scout troops.  This decision has been building for a few weeks and it hasn’t been easy.  We’ve had a lot of conversations about it and last night, there were a lot of tears over it.

So, that’s been our first week of summer.  Fabulous, right?  I suppose it can only get better from here!

The Reluctant Scoutmaster – Fort Ross

The Unicorns camped with the Troop at Fort Ross State Historic Park this weekend.  As I’ve said, I don’t like camping, but apparently its part of being Scoutmaster.

Camping at Fort Ross actually wasn’t too bad as camping goes.  First bonus . . . once the park closed to the public, we got to drive our cars down and park right in front of the fort gates!  No schlepping our stuff down and back up the looooonnnggg road!!!!  Yay!!!!

Second bonus, we got to actually sleep in the fort buildings!  No pitching a tent!!!  Double Yay!!!  My tent is really easy to set up so I don’t mind that too much.  What I do mind is trying to fold it back up so that it fits in its bag.  Can’t the bags be just an inch or two bigger??  I got a whole half of the upstairs in this building all to myself!!  Believe me, after a day with Scouts, some alone time is imperative to my sanity.


Third bonus . . . there were actual beds in the fort buildings!  The “mattresses” were pretty dismal but, with my sleeping pad on top, I was pretty cozy in my fort.

But, really, the best thing about this campout was the setting.

download  The ocean is my happy place so that alone improved the prospects that this camping adventure would be tolerable.

I still don’t believe that food cooked over a campfire is any better than regular food (and has the downside of getting cold almost immediately because you have to eat outside) but we did have some pretty good meals.  Dinner was Dutch oven fried chicken and veggies; breakfast was biscuits and sausage gravy.  Not too bad.

We did some cleaning up around the fort as a service project.  Raking leaves was much better when you’ve got an ocean view.  And we took the Scouts on a one-mile orienteering course, which took over two hours to traverse.  Aaahhhhhh . . . Scouts.  And then, we just sat in the sun for awhile.

So, all in all, the weekend wasn’t too bad.  But, I think this is my last weekend of camping until summer camp.  And I’m definitely not sad about that!

The Reluctant Scoutmaster

A few years ago, I made a good effort at getting Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to admit girls.  (I’ve written a little bit about this before.)  Here’s a link to the New York Times article that was written about us:

BSA has changed their policy and girls can now be members.  Yay!!!  When it came to forming my daughter’s troop, I asked who she thought was going to be Scoutmaster.  “You are.” she said, like it was the stupidest question ever and there was no other option.

So I went and did Scoutmaster training.  I made my husband come with me.  So now, I’m Scoutmaster of the Unicorns of Troop 55.  Our troop meetings are Wednesday nights.  Every single Wednesday, I wonder to myself (and, admittedly, sometimes aloud), “What the heck am I doing as Scoutmaster??”

I don’t like camping.  I don’t know how to tie a sheet bend, a timber hitch, a clove hitch or any other kind of hitchy-bendy knot.  I do, however, know how to tie a square knot.  Yay, me!  And, actually, I can tie a bowline. (I think its just that the lake, tree and bunny story that is the instructions for tying a bowline stuck in my head.)  I once lit a picnic table on fire while trying to use a backpacking stove.  I don’t chop wood nor do I know the difference between kindling, tinder and regular firewood.  I’ve got no clue which is a wrap and which is a frap when it comes to lashings.  I insist on bringing my full-size regular pillow on camping trips.  I’m decent at first aid – like if  you’re out in the woods with me and something happens, you’re probably not going to die.

Have you ever seen the movie, “Troop Beverly Hills”?  That’s me.  (Love that movie.)  I don’t understand why all women don’t wear jewelry with their Scout uniforms.  Just because we’re in tan uniform shirts and green pants with a million pockets (o.k., the million pockets are convenient), doesn’t mean we can’t look good.  It makes me sad that my

This coming weekend we’re camping at a historic fort on the coast.  Its a State Park and no one, except Scouts apparently, gets to actually camp in the fort.  Woo-hoo?  No, it will be kind of cool.  But, I’ve been to the Fort and there’s a loooonng road down to the fort from the visitor center parking lot.  Yesterday I told my daughter that I’m bringing a wagon to haul all my stuff down to the fort (assuming we don’t get to drive down and park right at the front door, which, of course, would be my preference).  She was horrified.  Horrified.  “Why??” I asked her??  “That’s lame,” she said.  “I am not a lame Scout.”  “Oh,” I answered.  “Well, I’m a lame Scoutmaster.”  “I KNOW” she said.  Geez, she’s the one who insisted I be Scoutmaster.

I guess I won’t be bringing my wagon and I’ll actually have to carry my stuff down and back up the looooonng road.  Did I mention its a hill also??  The fort is down at the bottom of the hill.  Of course it is.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Rain Camp

I survived camping with the Unicorns over the weekend.  Just barely.  It rained the entire time.  The.  Entire.  Time.  I spent all day . . . All DAY . . . Saturday huddled under a pop-up, in front of the fire pit.  So much fun.  Not.

My friend, who, mind you, didn’t go camping, kept telling me “You guys only got a quarter inch of rain.”  Whatever.  It was a quarter inch of all day mist, drizzle, and honest to goodness rain.

The Unicorns and their fellow Scouts amused themselves by building a giant bonfire.  When fire and sticks got boring, they retreated to their tents to play board games or Uno.  When that got boring, they went back to fire and sticks.  Their bonfire didn’t have pop-ups surrounding it (a good plan, actually) so all Scouts were generally muddy and damp.  They didn’t seem to mind too much.

On a positive note, my new tent stayed dry.  I was pretty content in my sleeping bag.  I was super happy about my new tent because choosing it at REI probably could have been the subject of a blog post all by itself.  Did you know that REI will let you set up tents right there in the store to assist in choosing one??  I was like the Goldilocks of Tents . . . that one is too big!  That one is two small!!  Finally, the 3 person plus (not sure what the plus is about) REI Half-Dome Tent (I think that’s its name) was just right!  God bless the poor REI employee who had to deal with me for an hour.

Another positive . . . one of the adults who came along, is a pretty good camp cook.  Although I still don’t think camp food tastes better because you’re outside and freezing cold.  Really, the best part about the meals was that it marked that at least a few more hours had gone by, which  meant I was that much closer to getting in my tent, which meant I was that much closer to going home.

One final positive was the other non-camping dad who came along.  Throughout the day, when no Scouts or our other, more enthusiastic parents were around, he would turn to me and ask, “Can we go home yet?”  I was like, “I’m right there with you friend.”  So I wasn’t totally alone in my feeling that camping in the rain is an absurd idea.

My Dad would say that the whole experience “built character.”  That was my Dad’s excuse for any semi-miserable experience . . . “It builds character!”  Let me tell you, I’ve got a lot of character.

So, we survived.  The Unicorns and I left a few minutes earlier than the others and headed to the nearest Starbucks.  Aaahhhh . . . warm comfort in a cup.

Camping Anxiety

I’m going camping this weekend with my fledgling Scout Troop of girls.

I’m just going to take a minute here and complain about nomenclature (I think that’s the correct fancy word.)  We can’t say “Girl Scouts” because that’s a different organization and they get understandably ticked off.  Boy Scouts of America has changed their name to Scouts BSA to reflect their new, co-ed, status.  “Scouts who are girls” is just too much of a mouthful.  I think I can just call my girls, “Scouts” . . . I have to figure this out because I’m sure this new adventure is going to be the subject of many future blog posts.  Or, how about just, “my girls”?  Or, “the Unicorns” since that’s their patrol name and how they’ll be known in the larger troop (that would be the troop we’re linked with, which is an all boys troop as required by BSA.)

O.k., now that I’ve got that out of the way . . . I’m going camping this weekend for the first time with my girls.  I’m super anxious about it.  So much so that I woke up several times last night.

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t really like to camp.  I don’t mind sleeping in a tent.  I actually went to REI yesterday and bought myself my very own tent.  I don’t mind the outdoors.  I like sitting around a campfire, looking at stars.  And I like the quiet start to the day, being woken up by birds.

But that’s about all I like.  Because everything else about camping seems so difficult.  Especially cooking.  It takes forever to cook anything, especially coffee.  I hate standing around in frosty mornings, waiting for stupid water to boil so I can have coffee.  And then, my coffee and food gets cold in about 2 minutes.  Hate that!

And then, what do you do all day?  I can only sit and chill out for so long.  I don’t mind hiking but I don’t want to hike all day.  You eat breakfast, you clean up, you go on a hike or chill for awhile and then you have to go right back to getting lunch ready because, again, cooking anything takes so long!

I know people are going to tell me that you can bring stuff pre-cooked, there’s a ton of easy camp recipes, etc.  I know all that.  I’ve camped with my son’s Scout troop many times.  And in the end, I know it will be ok.  But it doesn’t stop my anxiety from flaring  up before I get there.

Also, its supposed to rain this weekend.  Like, really rain.  Ugh.  By the time we get to our campsite tomorrow evening, its going to be dark.  Dark and raining.  And I have to set up a tent I’ve never set up before.  Yay!!  My blondness tends to seriously flare during these situations.  That’s usually not helpful.

Last anxiety producing issue here is that I don’t know the three other adult leaders who are going.  I mean, I’ve met them at troop meetings the past few weeks but that’s it.  New people make me anxious as it is being a truly introverted person.  And now I have to camp with them??  Oh geez.

So, overall, I’m worried and anxious.  I’m trying hard to stay focused today.  I’ve made a to do list because that helps me focus my day.  And I’m trying really hard to keep a positive attitude for my daughter.

Wish me luck and drier weather.  And feel free to pass along camping recipes too!

A New Scouting Adventure

Well, today is the day.   Today, my daughter officially becomes a Boy Scout.  Its been a long road to this point for us.  Follow the link to the New York Times article to see just a bit about the story:

Today, Boy Scouts of America will allow girls to join Boy Scouts.  Did we have a part in that change?  I’d like to think so, even if it was just a tiny part.

So today starts our new Scouting adventure.  I find myself as the Scoutmaster of a troop of girls.  (Girls can join but must be in a separate troop, although can be “linked” with an existing, boy, troop.  That’s what we’re doing.)  I have a lot of camping and hiking in my immediate future.

And I’m starting all of this with a bit of trepidation.  I ticked a lot of people off in our local Boy Scouts.  Some people are still against the idea of girls in Boy Scouts.  Very against.  Some people do a good job of letting me know that.

So I feel like my relationship with Boy Scouts is complicated.  When we brought the gender discrimination issue to the forefront, there was so  much nastiness, I often wondered why I would want either of my kids involved in the program.   But, I believe in the program.  Maybe not always in the people who are running things but, the people “on the ground”, the leaders, for the most part, are good people trying to just give kids some good experiences and skills.

And change is hard.  I get that.  BSA had been boys only for over 100 years.  I’m all for tradition.  Truly, I am.  Sometimes, I questioned whether going co-ed was really going to be a good thing.

But, here we are.  My daughter is so excited.  And I’m excited for her.  Its been a long, sometimes difficult, road and she’s hung in there.  She had this day circled on her calendar with a big “Become a Boy Scout!!!” note.  The Oath and Law have been pasted to her wall for at least a year now.  She knows them by heart.

So, here we go.  I’m interested to see where this new phase of the journey takes us.  And for now, I’m ignoring the fact that I don’t really like camping.  (Shhhh . . . don’t tell anyone!)