… so they can be tolerated until they acquire some sense." ~ William Lyon Phelps
March 12 was the 100th birthday of an organization I hold very near and dear to my heart: Girl Scouts. Because of Girl Scouts, I have seen and done things I wouldn't ordinarily do. I have made life long friends. And I once became the most popular girl at Boy Scout camp.
When we were sophomores in high school our troop leaders made an interesting decision, one I'm sure they almost immediately regretted. We were going to go camping at Silver Trails Boy Scout Camp. With boys. There were a few other Girl Scout troops there as well, one of which we knew well, but (and no offense to Sheila or Carrie or Vanessa or anyone else I may have missed)…. We were at BOY Scout camp. Our eyes and ears weren't really focused on the girls.
It was an early October weekend when this all took place. The leaves were in the midst of their color change, and the temperatures were warm enough during the day but cold at night. Darkness fell about 7 p.m., and it was about this time on a Friday night that we actually arrived at the camp. We met a young woman who was to show us to our campsite. Some of us were quietly bitching moaning about having to set up our tents, which was never our favorite activity to begin with, in the dark.
The young woman, who was probably all of twenty-two bless her heart, got on her walkie talkie and called her younger brother and two of his friends to our campsite to set up the tents for us.
And thus it began.
Please forgive my lack of usual detail. It was just such a dream come true long time ago that some of the lesser details have become a bit hazy.
The younger brother, Chris, and his friends, one of whom was Jake, came by and helped us set up our tents. They were very nice and polite and had no issues chatting with our leaders' husbands while they put up our tents and went off to gather wood for a fire for us. This is a very important fact for you to remember…
… because the next morning is when the rest of the boy scouts figured out we were there.
Not going to lie. Odds were definitely in any girl's favor that weekend.
I remember our leaders giving us a pep talk about taking the activities seriously. They explained that because these were boys, they were going to think the girls couldn't keep up.
BAH! Turns out, we showed them.
Our troop was divided into two patrols to participate in the activities. We'd go from station to station building fires, figuring out how to cross a creek as a team, and other nature/team building activities. At some point, Chris and Jake caught up with us, along with Jake's little hellion weekend buddy, Phillip and we all wandered around the camp together.
I should mention here that because my memory is a bit hazy and dreamlike, I cannot recall exactly how we met some of guys I'm about to mention, but there were three distinct groups. Chris and Jake, a group from Grand Blanc including a redhead who was really into our leader's daughter Jeanne, and a third group from Walled Lake including two guys named Rob and Adam.
Around noon, we stopped and went back to our campsite for lunch. Which was interesting because right in the middle of lunch the group of guys from Grand Blanc wandered into the woods behind our camp and serenaded us with The Righteous Brothers "You've Lost That Love and Feeling." Original? No. Did we care? Yeah, a bunch of 15-year-old girls are going to mind that four guys couldn't come up with a more original song to serenade us with. Our leaders and their husbands on the other hand, they cared. Not so much about the song choice, but the fact it even happened.
As they chewed us out about conducting ourselves like ladies, Jen and I occasionally glanced at one
another and did the proverbial eye roll. What we both found interesting was that during the serenade, some of the guys were clearly directing it at Jeanne, and yet it was Jen, our friend DonnaMarie, and myself who were bearing the brunt of the verbal flogging.
There's something to be said for being the outgoing girls of the bunch, clearly.
After lunch, and with Jake and his little buddy Phillip in tow, we made our way to the archery session. Our group signed up for a session and took a seat. Surrounded by boys. Little boys, boys our age, and men. We were the only girls in the little outdoor ampitheatre. When it came our turn to shoot the bows and arrows, little asshole Phillip said, quite loudly, "I don't know why we have to bother watching this. They're girls. Girls can't shoot bows and arrows."
His remark was met with a fair share of laughter.
There wasn't a lot of instruction given to us as to how to properly shoot a bow and arrow. I'm not sure if it was a time constraint issue or if it was more of a conspiracy issue, but either way, all of those males underestimated us ladies. What they didn't know was that Mo actually already knew how to shoot a bow and arrow. My dad had taught me a few years earlier. So I quickly taught my fellow girl scouts. And by the third and final shot, everyone in the group had hit the target, or at least the haystack it was posted to, at least once.
I was so busy teaching everyone how to correctly line up their quivers against the bow and then how to line up a shot, I hadn't made any of my own. I was fully prepared to forfeit my opportunity but the man running the station told us he wouldn't sign off on our completion until I completed the activity.
Essentially, I had to shoot three arrows. By myself. With everyone watching.
Sucks to be me.
I prepared my bow and arrow and let the first shot go. It actually skidded along the ground before stopping several feet in front of the target. There was some laughter and catcalling from the stands. Taking a deep breath, I re-aligned myself, set up my second shot, and let it fly. I hit the target. Not just a corner of it, but within the circles. There were some "Wows!" in the crowd and someone said, "Let's see if she can do it again." I smiled to myself, lined up my third and final shot, and let 'er rip…
… right into the dead center of the bullseye.
My friends cheered. Jake said to Phillip, "See? That's why we watch the girls shoot bows and arrows!"
The rest of the afternoon as we went from station to station, boys were pointing at me and telling the older scouts, "That's the girl who hit the bullseye!"
Turns out, I was the only scout in the campground who made a bullseye all weekend.
Girls can't shoot bows and arrows indeed.
Later that night, after an awards ceremony around a campfire where I won frickin' tent stakes, we girls were back in our tents talking. Suddenly someone said, "I think something's out there."
"It's probably just a rabbit," I replied. No sooner were the words out of my mouth when there was suddenly a lot of woodland creature activity behind our tent.
"I don't think that's a rabbit, Mo."
I was unzipping the window of the tent when a voice whispered, "Where's Jeanne?"
Again, Jeanne is the leader's daughter.
"She's in here," I whispered back as I finished unzipping the window.
"Monique? Is that you?"
"Adam?" He was one of the Walled Lake guys.
"Yeah." Suddenly the redhead from Grand Blanc was in the window followed by a blond Adam.
"Jeanne, there's someone here to see you…." I whispered. She was by my side in an instant.
"Where's Jen?" Rob, the other guy from Walled Lake, asked.
"Over here," Jen whispered from the tent less than four feet away.
It continued like this with girls popping up and down in front of the windows while the guys were rotating around outside the tent, with lots of whispering, teenage hormones, etc.
Suddenly our leader's husband's booming voice called out, "Gentlemen, get back to your campsites NOW!"
The guys scattered like leaves.
The next morning, our leaders read us the riot act. One of them even started crying. And we were marched firmly to and from the closing flag ceremony, standing a great distance apart from everyone at the ceremony itself. There were no chances to say good-bye, to possibly grab a phone number or address or anything…. We were ordered to finish packing and our parents would be there soon to pick us up.
The thing was, we hadn't actually done anything to warrant the amount of trouble we'd gotten in. We hadn't snuck off to the empty field nearby, we weren't drinking, we hadn't even left our tents. A few teenage boys had done what teenage boys do: they snuck into our camp and talked with us. But given the dirty looks Jen and I were getting (we were almost always the instigators in situations when things didn't go exactly as our leaders planned, even when evidence to the contrary was blatantly staring our leaders in the face), you'd think we had run off, gotten married in a pagan sacrificial virgin ceremony, and killed all the innocent little forest creatures by beheading them.
In short, the punishment certainly did not fit the crime.
When we got home, we told our own mothers what happened. I think it may have been my mom calling Jen's mom, or whatever, but there was a phone call made between the two moms and the common summary was: our leaders needed to have a wine cooler or two and loosen up.
But needless to say, we never did return to Boy Scout/Girl Scout camp.