Yesterday I went on a hike in Bowdoin Park with a friend. I've been to the park several times, but something about hiking through the woods made me think back to my days as a Girl Scout. We had some interesting camping experiences, one of which was at this particular park.
My mother was one of my troop leaders, and our troop was together pretty much from day one of Brownies until we all moved on to other things in high school. We had a lot of good times, but several camping experiences are memorable for the things that went wrong.
For example, I vividly remember one time when we were camping in Bowdoin Park. We were staying in the lodge there, thankfully, because the weather was most uncooperative. It rained the entire time. I don't mean a little sprinkle -- more like Noah should have been building the f#$king ark behind the building. A homeless man tried to climb into the building through a window. I'm sure he had probably been staying there all along and was just as surprised to see a bunch of Girl Scouts as we were scared shitless to see him. I also remember the board path through the marsh area, as we walked through that several times. By the end of the weekend everyone had to hike back out to the main road because the road to the cabin was such a spectacularly muddy mess that no vehicles could get in. Fun times!
There was also the Camp Out With the Caterpillars. I think we were at Sharpe Reservation for that fantastic adventure. It was supposed to be a regular camp out, but it is memorable for the tent caterpillars. They were incredibly bad in this area for a few years. On that camping experience they were so bad that we had to wear a bandana or a hat whenever we were outside because it was literally raining caterpillars down from the trees. I remember when we were leaving that we turned up the radio in the car because the caterpillars were so thick on the ground that we could hear them squishing as the car drove over them. Did you know it is possible for squashed caterpillars to make the road slick enough that a car will lose traction, and roll back down a hill? Totally happened. I was in the car and my mother was driving.
A third awesome camping experience was at the Jubilee held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. That was really interesting because there were so many troops there. I remember all of my troop being incredibly jealous that a troop of older girls got to order pizza for dinner, and we had to cook ours over the fire -- you know, like Girl Scouts are supposed to do. There was also supposed to be bad thunderstorms and lightning, so the organizers made everyone go and sit in the permanent exhibition halls that are on the fairgrounds. We diligently went up into the hall, and the people in charge kept telling us to move back and sit against the walls so that everyone could fit inside. My mother took one look at what was going on and told all of us to move away from the wall. Why? The fairgrounds are pretty flat, until you get to the area with the halls which are up on a hill, and the halls happen to be made out of metal. They had moved everyone into big metal buildings on the highest point around, and then told us all to sit back against the big lightning rod.
We had other camp outs that went much better, of course. Those stand out in my memory simply for the extraordinary circumstances we found ourselves in.
Shout Out to Troop 154! We were awesome!