Every time I camp as a Girl Guide leader, people will recollect wonderful memories of their own experiences in Guides or Scouts. I love ...

Every time I camp as a Girl Guide leader, people will recollect wonderful memories of their own experiences in Guides or Scouts.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || 5 things you learn at Girl Guide camp

I love hearing those stories because I see the funny little teenagers of years ago and the same excited faces that I saw in my charges last weekend.

There's always the, "wow, I worked it out" face, when an unknown and mysterious knot is successfully and correctly tied for the first time.

Or the, "hey, that actually worked" face, as a girl climbs a self-made rope ladder high into a tree.

Even after 25 years of being a volunteer Girl Guide leader, some of those faces can make me swell with pride, and, after 25- plus years camping with Girl Guides, I can tell you there are a handful of life lessons you can take from a Girl Guide camp.

1. You can fail, and still survive

For every rope ladder I've seen work, I reckon I've seen five not work. Doesn't matter. As one girl stepped onto the rung of a ladder I knew would fail, she turned to me and with a healthy dose of doubt said, "what if this doesn't work". What if indeed? You don't climb into the tree. That's about the sum of it. The first rung slipped as soon as it bore her weight and she slid to the ground. She survived, and even better, she took a good look at what she'd done, saw her mistake and made it better. Survived... and thrived, I'd say.

2. You can solve that unsolvable problem

Place a problem or new challenge in front of a small group of girls and they will work it out. It may fail (see Point No. 1) but more often than not, it works. Sometimes there is a better way, but that doesn't matter, refinement comes later. They will badger you to do it, and happily watch if you give in and do it, but that teaches nothing. The charm comes from them doing it by themselves. The resilience comes from knowing it has to be done and that others in your team rely on you helping to get it done. For the leader, the trick is to be patient enough to step back and watch it unfold.

3. A little bit of mud won't hurt you

Nor will a leech bite, or an ant bite, not really, not for long. (A spider bite, snake bite or bee sting - well, they're in a list of first aid remedies we'll come to another time). Rain can never dampen high spirits and if the entrance to your tent gets too muddy to tramp through, well you just turn the tent.

4. Everything lost can be found

If you thought a teen girl's room was chaos, try five teen girls in a tent. Absolute bedlam. There are those girls who stress over lost toothbrushes, towels, hats and mugs. Then there are those who don't even realise they've lost them. (I had a girl come to me about 9pm on the first night of camp to tell me she'd packed no clothes. She had, they were just in a bag she'd left in the middle of the campsite about nine hours earlier.) For all, at the end of camp, all things are found, packed away and hauled off site.

5. Big things are not that big and small things matter

What feels big at 1 am in the morning, when the girls in your tent have stopped laughing at your jokes and told you to quit it and go to sleep (as the leaders have, numerous times) is never that big a humiliation at breakfast. And, that problem you left at school or the fight you had with your sister before your left for camp can all melt away the moment you realise there is only square of toilet paper left in the entire toilet block and there's someone in the line before you. (Much worse if the leaders realise they've underestimated the number of toilet rolls needed for a weekend with 150 girls and women. See, small thing suddenly a big thing. Please refer to Point No. 1.)

Image source: Andrew McElroy, on UnSplash

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  1. So many great life lessons in one weekend!
    I love the stories you hear at camp too, especially from the experienced leaders or those who were Guides as youngsters too. It is a special thing to be a part of :)
    Kate xx

    1. It is a special thing to be part of. I had older leaders with me in my sub-camp, but it was a sad realisation for each one of them this camp (it was wet and cold) that this was probably their last. For at least two of them, it really challenged their health and bodies and, sadly, confirmed for them what they'd already been thinking, that it was time to dip out of the face-to-face activity with the girls and support in other ways.

  2. Very good Katie, something in this for all of us.

    1. Thanks Jane. Life lessons I am sure you see in action in your part of the world all the time.

  3. Wonderful words! As a Guider at (currently) four levels, I see this from the littlest, most adventurous Spark to the most enthusiastic Pathfinder. I am printing this out for my own two Guide daughters...

    1. Oh, so pleased you found this blog and will share it with your daughters. I hope they grow to become Guiders too and experience the joy of being a leader.

  4. Pretty sure I experienced all five things at our year end Pathfinder camp in early June!

    1. So glad you did. Thanks for stopping by and sharing Nancy.