Great Expectations

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Great Expectations

I thought I knew quite a bit about camping before I ever experienced it, what with Mom’s all absorbing preparations for one camp or another.  Finally, I flew up to Guides from Brownies and actually went myself.

Great Expectations

Guiding and camping were great equalizers.  The shrill of the phone rang often when camp time drew near as Mom reassured one nervous or unrealistic mother or another.  “How many party frocks should be packed for my Mary Jane?” was the sort of burning question that needed to be cleared up.

At camp itself, expectations still needed to be checked, and the idea of self reliance introduced.  There was always a Jocelyn, or two, who was not too tired after a day’s camp to slip her shoes outside the tent, before it was laced up for the night, expecting them to be spit and polished by morning.  “By whom?”  Mom would ask.

For my part, the joys of camping were elusive and came with their disillusionments too.  Where was the joy of digging a latrine trench and erecting Hessian from tree to tree, for a modicum of privacy?  Dad, it seemed, had, only recently, finally successfully moved heaven and earth to bring water born sewage to town so everyone could get rid of their PK (Picannini Kia, ‘little house’ – drop toilets) at the bottom of their gardens.

We’d just got a wonderful new electric stove with a warming drawer to keep Dad’s dinner warm when he didn’t get home for supper. Going back to a wood fire, making Dutch ovens out of mud and lashing together our own tables made out of sticks, did not really seem like fun to me.  It seemed like going back in time, while Dad was going forward, slowly, for everyone’s benefit.  Mom insisted,  “It’s healthy to get back to nature. It’s character building.  You’ll  learn self reliance and survival skills.  You never know when you’ll need to fall back on these in life.”

Meanwhile Dad and the boys were learning self reliance at home, usually on short notice.  I secretly envied them.

4 Comments

  • Tess Harris

    Reply Reply September 25, 2010

    I agree with you that digging (and using) a latrine was not my idea of fun, but otherwise the friends, the freedom, and the time away from home with our dedicated Captain made it all worth while!

    Tess

    • Diana

      Reply Reply September 25, 2010

      Betty,

      Your memories are as rich as mine. We lived tandem lives on different continents. Thanks so much for sharing.

      Those ‘meal in one’ foil in the coals mixed in with soil and so on were the best! It all added to that indescribable flavor. A lot of the camp songs I think were American and went universal. Campfire really was the best time of day.

      Diana

    • Diana

      Reply Reply September 25, 2010

      Tess,

      So glad the memories are rich for you. Yes, we did live lives of extraordinary freedom and make great friendships when we were young.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      Diana

  • Betty

    Reply Reply September 25, 2010

    Diana, these are great memories, and I know your camping was more primitive than mine. We went to Camp Arnold, outside Conroe. There were latrines already made, filled with maggots, 5 ft. below, to eat the waste. One night, I accidentally dropped my flashlight into the pit, and we had a horrific, yet fascinating view of them teeming and eating, amongst wads of tollet paper….what a sight! We also would have great fires for cooking our meals, but we also dug 2 ft. deep pits, filled them with hot coals, laid heavy foil individual packets of raw meat, potatoes, carrots,etc. Then we piled dirt back into the pit and left it all day to pressure cook or smother cook the packets. They were pure heaven. I can’t remember how the dirt didn’t get into the packets. Something must have been laid on top of them, like leaves or burlap. We canoed down the Colorado river for three days, sleeping along the water’s edge each night. The only thing that bothered us were the cows, who came to drink from the river each morning, with their wet noses and curiosity of us in our sleeping bags! Yours was the real scouting adventure in the wild! Thanks for sharing and keep giving us vignettes of your adventures! Also loved the camp songs, and I knew the same ones you knew….

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