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Posts Tagged ‘Girl Scouts’

Camp Aspetuck 1971/Part 1:

In The 60's, Writing on January 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

It was Kris who talked me into joining the Brownies first, followed by the Girl Scouts (and the coveted badges) And it was with said Girl Scouts that we were heading to Camp Aspetuck in the summer of 1971. I was both excited (it’ll be like a three day slumber party!) and hesitant (it’ll be like a three day slumber party) The thought of sleeping in a tent, amid the elements was okay, but in all honesty, I never saw the downside of my own cozy, lavender chenille covered bed. At least Kris and I were guaranteed to bunk in the same tent, because her Mom was a troop leader, and we were bound to be getting special treatment. Like most people, I hated nepotism until I could hitch my wagon to it.

the camp P.R.

the camp P.R.

We left early on a Friday morning in late June. My father, dressed in his suit and tie for work, dropped me off in the school’s parking lot at the ungodly hour of six-thirty am. As usual, he dazzled a few of the Scout moms with his presence and small talk, which led to questions after he left. “Is that your father?’ Mrs. Grey asked, sounding impressed. “He’s really nice!” agreed Mrs. DeRosa, winking. Ewww.

Kris and her mom, along with most of the the scout troop were already there. We wore street clothes to camp, but Kris and I packed our sashes in case we had the chance to one-up other girls who’d earned less badges. We set for the long drive- a drive that was an estimated thirty- two minutes in length. Or, as we interpreted it: ‘way out in the boonies’

I had  a few misgivings about this trip- like I said, I wasn’t a huge fan of sleeping outside. I could spend entire days out at Khakini or Ram Island with my family on the boat, but I would never stay the weekend like my brothers did, swearing they had a blast in their little tent city with all of their friends. (Imagine leaving a pack of eight to twelve year old boys on an island, alone for an entire weekend, Lord-of-the-Flies style, with coolers of perishable food, lighters for making fires and fully loaded BB guns!…and yet, everyone lived) I would always opt to cruise back to shore with my parents on our boat, ‘The Pisces’ and not only bask in my creature comforts- but enjoy them more, sans brothers. Camping in the woods with the Girl Scouts was automatically better because: girls! but it was still roughing it.

I  was concerned about my trusted reading- myself- to- sleep ritual (still in effect to this day) and  wondered if I could conk off without it. I brought along three books ( Heidi, Mother West Wind ‘Why’ Stories, and ‘The Cricket In Times Square’) but doubted I’d be able to relax in comfort, shoved inside a sleeping bag with a flat pillow, armed only with a weak flashlight.

To say nothing of my eating idiosyncrasies. I didn’t know much about camping food, but even a fool could figure out that the food probably ‘touched’. And because I was in public, I knew I couldn’t flee the room (make that flee the outside), or start gagging if a kernel of corn bounced off a hamburger patty and landed on a french fry  like it did at home, causing me to freak out, followed by chaotic family uproar, a chain reaction that rivaled my favorite game, Mousetrap. My disdain for milk, mayonnaise, and onions might also come into play. On the bright side, chances were no adults would be paying that much attention to my plate, as I was sure they were nowhere near as invested as my family was.

Another concern: rumor had it that the shower situation was something along the lines of a plastic bucket swinging from a rope, tied to a tree, rationed by the gallon and cold, and I had doubts that it would cut it when it came to my long hair. My mom suggested I ‘tie it up in a bandanna and be done with it’ then  ‘just wash it when you get home’. Sh-yeah! Like I’m going to walk around with gross, greasy hair for a whole weekend in front of 40 judgmental girls. (Ever since she’d ambushed me with those pixie cuts as a child, I didn’t trust my mom for hair advice anyway) So I brought my half-full bottle of Breck shampoo along, as well as my Herbal Essence Creme Rinse, and hoped for the best. (I noticed later that my mom had stuffed a can of ‘PSSST!’- her dry shampoo- into my bag as well. Dry Shampoo- a scam if I’d ever seen one!)

Forest Fashion by GS America

Forest Fashion by GS America

Though these micro-management asides jammed my head, I said nothing. Even at age ten I was aware of how off-putting neurotic people were, that they had no place in a vibrant social life. Luckily for me, these negative thoughts ran parallel to those that were the complete opposite. Being away from my parents (who also could use the break) and my brothers for two days was a plus, not to mention non-stop hanging out with Kris (and sharing her mother by proxy, if need be)

Sleeping in a tent full of girls and having late night ‘bull’ sessions was bound to be both informative and exciting (I planned on really prying it up) We’d have the opportunity to earn more patches, which of course would make for groovier sashes, and strike up some serious envy from the lowly Brownie crowd.

I already had a decent amount of patches (all neatly sewn on by my mother or grandmother, including my ‘Sewing’ patch). I also had Personal Health, Indian Lore, Toymaker, Pets, Homemaker, and Observer.

Kris and I planned to earn Troop Camper, Water Fun, and Outdoor Cook on this sojourn. It was a shame that there were no patches issued for some of my best skills, though: “Complaining’, ‘Moodiness’, ‘Dramatic Sighing’ ‘Eating like an Asshole’ and ‘Sibling Fight Club’….because if they had-there would barely be room for all of the patches I could earn – I might have even become a double sasher!

Without saying, I was assigned to Kris’s mom’s car for the ride to camp. Also with us, three other scouts: tiny Lara ‘Thumbelina’ Sandberg, Renee “VaVa-Voom’ Siegel, and Karen (‘Marcia Brady’) Edwards. Kris and I sat on the bench seat in the front of Mrs. Alden’s Oldsmobile -me by the window, Kris in the middle, Mrs. Alden at the wheel .

Being in the front meant that we got to control the radio, absolute power in fourth grade. I say ‘we’ because even though Kris was the only one close enough to touch the dial, it was my ‘approving’ eyebrows (up high) or ‘disapproving ‘(lowered into a ‘V’) that sealed (or unsealed) the deal. The girls in the back had no say. This meant we could wield our musical preferences like  dictators drunk with power, something that delighted us to no end.

#1 = my favorite song ever.

#3 = my favorite song ever. #5 =a song Kristen’s mother likes. #6 =Gordon Lightfoot. #7 =Classical. #9=News and Weather.

Camp Aspetuck/Part 2: 5/16/15

In The 60's on January 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Before we left, and after it was assessed that everyone was present  (a checklist was bandied about) we settled into our seats, and prepared for take-off. We drove through our hometown in a caravan of mom commandeered cars, taking in all the familiar places and landmarks that had suddenly become more interesting simply by the bearing of witnesses. Riding through the center of town, which ordinarily was as rote and mundane as watching the grass grow, suddenly became alive with comments and stories. We all had them, for better or worse.

“I take music lessons there!’ Lara pointed out as we passed a large red house that had been converted into  a music store- guitars, drums and all of brass instruments propped up in the front window, Johnny Boomba’s. We’d seen it a million times. Snooze.

“I always see Alex there, because he takes his lesson right after mine.” she added, matter of factly. Say what? Our ears perked at the news- Alex was the cutest boy in the fourth grade. I would never again pass this store without checking for Alex. This continued for the next fifteen years.

“Really?” Kris asked,  wheels turning as she swiveled her head around to the backseat “How much are lessons?”

Kristina!” Mrs. Alden scolded suddenly. “You know our Agreement!!”

“Oh, mom! I’m just asking!” she huffed loudly, surrendering up jazz hands.

Evidently-as told by Mrs. Alden, Kris was currently enrolled in an after-school Drama Class (in my opinion she should have been the teacher), and had used up her quota of activities- and the money to pay for them. She had two younger sisters, and between the Scouts, Drama, Dance and Tumbling classes Mrs. Alden was being run ragged, her pockets picked. We listened as she pleaded her case, and for just one minute to herself. She sounded exactly like our own mothers -another shared experience.

We drove by Kiddy Town, the local toy store, which kicked off an oral history of what we’d gotten for Christmas and Hanukkah last year, and for our birthdays, and well, ever. Mostly, we coveted macrame and tie-dye kits, peace sign patches, Partridge Family bubble gum cards, transistor radios and figure skates. At ten, we were already too old for many toys.

This exercise of listing our possessions  was good practice for future Facebook posts, as we tried to one up each other, and gushed incessantly about our superior gifts. Some (for instance, me) even exaggerated a bit (yeah- I got Partridge cards, but 2 packs, not 10!) Was there a Girl Scouts patch for bragging?

We spotted the local movie theater, now showing ‘Willard’ (about rats! ewww!) and ‘Escape From The Planet Of The Apes’ which many of us had seen at the local Drive-In. A few comments were made regarding the female ape being named Lisa (my name!), but a squinty-eyed glare towards the peanut gallery in the back, snuffed that thread out. (Admittedly there were some giggles, but they were muffled) Kris, who didn’t miss a thing , gave me the ‘Can you believe it?’ expression (open mouth, dead eyes) and a subtle shake of the head, as we both mentally filed it into our ‘talk about it behind everyone’s back later’ folder.

It was starting to look like a rainy day, the overcast sky a slate gray.  The wind picked up as the trees, thick with deep green leaves swished to and fro. Mrs. Alden said she had hoped it wasn’t going to rain on our first day at camp, but it appeared Mother Nature hadn’t been apprised of our schedule. Soon, fat plops of summer rain fell onto the windshield. This made for an inventive Carpenters re-mix “Rainy Days and Fridays” followed by a sarcastic rendition of “Joy To The World” (the word ‘Joy’ sung in Eeyore voice) as we listened to our fave jams on Music Radio WABC. We squealed with actual joy when the Partridge Family’s “I’ll Meet You Halfway” came on- all of us emphasizing the words and nuances of the song (it’s the nuances that set you apart, in my opinion. Shirley and Laurie’s ‘ooh’s’ and ‘ahhs?’ Key.) We’d have made any fandom proud.

By the time we pulled into the dirt driveway of the camp, past the wooden sign that announced ‘Camp Aspetuck’, we were giggling with excitement, despite the rain, and even despite the fact that Renee had just pointed out that we’d be missing ‘The Partridge Family’ tonight because we’d be at camp with no tv..Sometimes she could be such a witch that starts with a ‘B’. I could tell Renee liked being a buzzkill at that moment, as she sat back there with her little smirk, so self-satisfied, popping pink bubbles and jangling around her (unauthorized, but very cool) bangle bracelets.

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