|Taking a hike in Kejimkujik National Park. Nova Scotia, 2012.|
One of my favorite (okay, my number one favorite) thing about Girl Guides is the camping experience.
I guess as many French-Canadians I am 50 % woodsman, 50 % lumberjack and 50 % trapper (unfortunately this has done nothing for my arithmetic!)
Add to it the fact that I lie on the low-maintenance end of the feminine continuum... and you get a woman who just loves to leave her comfortable existence on a regular basis to return to the roots of a more rustic way of life. (One friend has actually renamed me Daniel Boone.)
There is something very refreshing about this extreme simplification of life, being in constant and close contact with nature, doing everything with your own hands, and propelling yourself through the use of your muscles only.
Appearances and the latest gadget don't matter anymore. What matters is staying safe and warm and dry, feeding yourself, and enjoying your natural surroundings in good company. Entertainment has to be low key as well, usually by the means of a bonfire and some good songs. Fortunately this is one of the most pleasant ways to spend an evening.
That might explain why working as a camp counselor in the deep Canadian forest made me so profoundly happy back in the days. The other part of it that I found immensely rewarding was to share my innate love of the outdoors and my acquired resourcefulness with youngsters.
Now that I've become too picky to accept being paid about $3 an hour and that I've moved on to a more "grown up" professional occupation, I still find myself occasionally initiating kids to the camping experience... for free!
This is how, last weekend, we took 22 Girl Guides to camp. It was a hit from A to Z.
We hiked, found our way using a compass, built shelters.
We cooked everything from scratch, beginning at the bottom of the technology chain with "fire starters" and "buddy burners" we had made out of, respectively: egg cartons + dryer lint + melted crayons and old cans + recycled corrugated cardboard + paraffin.
It all worked a charm.
The only thing we didn't do so well was sleep: the kids chatted until the wee hours, and most leaders tossed and turned the rest of the night. Being designated first aider I was awarded the best sleeping spot as is always the case... but it also meant that if somebody had to be awakened for any emergency - even if said emergency was just a nightmare - it would be me.
(In the end the only "emergency" we had was a splinter, and it happened during the day. I actually slept pretty well!)
We came back home replenished, mental batteries recharged... and of course physically tired... but a good tiredness!
Do you like returning to the roots and distanciating yourself from civilization once in a while? What do you do, and how does it make you feel?