This year I have been asked to be in charge of helping to plan girls camp for the youth in my ward (church unit). I am overwhelmed because so much work goes into it. But I'm mostly just excited and I hope I can help create a really fun and meaningful time for the girls.
The timing for this assignment was perfect because just this past week I found some old photos from when I went to girls camp. I will only share them with you if you promise not to judge me too much for my hair and makeup (yes, makeup - at camp). They're not good, you guys. My hair... well, my hair has looked better. I'll leave it at that for now.
One of the things I've been thinking about since I was asked to do this is that I need to brush up on my camp skills. When I was in the youth program, as part of our preparation for camp, we would have weekly activities where we learned basic camping skills. We had to learn enough to prove we knew the basics. Once we passed them off, we were ready for camp. It's kind of funny in retrospect because at the time, the camp we went to had cabins, a cafeteria, showers, and a camp store. But still, I am glad I learned those skills and I think most of them stuck with me. Some of them I have very little recollection of though, and will probably need to learn along with the girls.
Here's what I remember about camping skills and survival:
Compass: A compass will be of no use to me. I mean, so what if I know where north and/or south are if I'm lost? Where will north take me? Either Canada or the UP. South will eventually take me to Florida. But where's camp? I should probably get a chip installed under my skin so if I get lost someone can just find me on their gps.
Constellations: I have no idea how people use the North star as a guide. The only thing the North star would guide me to is outer space. And I can not walk there. And even if I could walk there, I doubt I'd be able to see camp from there. The whole plan is flawed.
First aid: Here's what I know about first aid:
Bandaids: have 'em with you.
Blood: should stay inside body.
Eyes: do not poke them.
Slings: make good blindfolds (for pinata time).
Tweezers: necessary for plucking eyebrows.
Ibuprofen: works great for cramps.
Hydrogen peroxide: do not drink.
Swimming: Just keep moving your arms and legs and you'll probably stay above water. If you move down (sinking), you're not doing it right.
Building Fires: K, for this you need to be outdoors, preferably. What you do is you find some sticks, some newspaper, some matches, some marshmallows, an ax for chopping down a tree (for wood), some chocolate bars, a camp chair or two, some graham crackers, a book of ghost stories, and a friend who knows how to build a fire.
Tying Knots: Over, under, through, over again, maybe through one more time? Anyway, it's not that hard. If you get confused, just pull your earbuds out and look at what the cord did. Let that be your guide.
Hypothermia: I think hypothermia is the lesson that stood out to me the most when I was a teenager learning about camping. Why? Because it involves potential nudity. If you're really cold and you're no longer shivering, you are in danger. At that point get in the sleeping bag with whomever you're with and strip down to the buff (or near buff) to share warmth. A 13 year old does NOT forget this lesson. It's the most scandalous of all camping lessons. Your imagination kinda goes wild.
Snake bites: Avoid them at all costs. In Michigan, we only have one kind of poisonous snake and rumor has it, he's really lazy (we badmouth snakes a lot in Michigan. That's why we don't have many. They get so humiliated, they leave). But we do have lots and lots of freaky looking snakes. And I'm pretty sure they only bite cause they're jerks. But you probably won't die. I mean, maybe over time, but it'll take awhile. What I'm trying to say is live each day like it's your last. (Cause it might be if a snake bites you.)
Ticks: I've been camping in Ohio a couple times, which is where we'll be this summer. One of the times I was camping in Ohio, someone got a tick in her scalp - right on her part. It was Sick. As in gross, not awesome. Do we have ticks in Michigan? I have no idea. Maybe. There's no way of knowing. But I know for sure they've got 'em in Ohio.
I was just a teenager on that trip and one of the "grown ups" had to deal with the tick. But guess what? This time I'll be the grown up and I probably won't be allowed to run away from a teenager with a tick in her scalp. I should probably learn about tick removal. If I'm correct it involves a match, tweezers, removing the tick's head, which makes the body die (unlike other living species), then putting a bandaid over the wound? Maybe there's hairspray involved too. Or is that ink stain removal? I really don't know.
UPDATE: EW, EW, EW! I got curious and looked up how to remove ticks. It was really gross. I think I'm going to have to insist none of the girls let any ticks get on them while we're camping. I'm sorry I have to be strict about this, but when you're older, you can make the rules. For now: no ticks allowed. I'm going to have to lay down the law on this one.
Bear attacks: Here's what I know about bear attacks. If a bear comes at you, try to get him to climb up a tree. That way when the authorities come and shoot him with a tranquilizer, he will look hilarious falling out.
I consider the above points to be a bit of a pre-test. Hopefully I'll get some manuals and find out where I nailed it and where I could use a refresher. If you have any camping survival tips, feel free to pass them on.