06 August 2011

This one time at Guide Camp...

This year I had the opportunity to spend time T Guide Camp in England - only 2 days, but tons of memories. As many of you blog readers know I have been a Girl Scout for 29 years and spent 15 or more summers at Girl Scout Camp. Camp is a part of me. So being able to go to Guide Camp was a fun experience and well I couldn't help but compare...now for fairness' sake, its really like comparing several variety of apples with just one orange.
I was at Come To Tomers with the Guides of my friend Charlie and the Rangers of my friend Vee. Guides are 10- 14 years old and Rangers are 14 - 26. The oldest of the Rangers was 21. The camp ground is an established site with several decades of history. CTT is a 2 week event for Guides and Scouts every summer - I have no idea what. Takes place the other 50 weeks of the year at this site.
Okay so let the apples/orange comparison begin:

(note: I am going to refer to a Guide Group as a troop in this post - although technically that is not the correct word)

My GS camp experiences have been camps with permanent / semi-permanent facilities. At CTT guide units set up their own tents and canopies. The only permanent structures were office and bathroom - maybe a few other facilities like storage sheds here and there.

My GS camp experiences, girls come to camp alone or with a buddy or two. It's not a troop activity. At CTT the Guides and Scouts (yes, those are of the male variety) come with their troop. At GS camp the campers were either in a unit that did everything together or in a unit that did some things together and other times the campers signed up for activities. At CTT the campers signed up for activities. However a troop could sign up for a common activity as well. But the troop would come back together for meals and sleeping. Plus the girls could work on badges in the unit space as well.

My GS Camp experiences typically included a large mess hall where the whole camp came together for most meals. Generally a unit would cook out only once a week - one dinner and one breakfast and over the weekend as well. At CTT every meal was a cookout! I loved it! While I was there we cooked eggy-bread (known to Americans as French Toast), soup, pasta, sausages, fried bread, jacket potatoes (known to Americans as baked potatoes), custard and more. It was soo good to be at camp cooking over a fire. Heck not having a burn ban and actually being able to light a fire was priceless!

Both GS Camp and CTT offer a variety of activities for the campers. Every camp offers different activities based on facilities, climate and age of campers. CTT had a lot of fun activities - many of which I wished I could do!
Slides, rock climbing, zorbing, fire lighting, rifle shooting, laser tag, rafting and so much more! Activities galore.

Camp is camp, no matter where you are, you've got to be prepared for the weather. At CTT this meant everything from shorts and T-Shirt to sweatshirt (in British-speak: jumper) and cap and don't forget your wellies and waterproof (rain gear to us Americans). In the 2 days I was there I needed it all! But the big difference was neckers. Everyone wore a necker to signify who they were. The campers had cow-patterned ones (western theme week), the Guiders and Leaders had bright orange (me too!) and staff had navy blue. This was not optional and MUST be worn around the neck, held on either with a woggle or a friendship knot. I liked knowing immediately what the role of a person was!

At GS Camp, often the unit would have a theme for the week - and the camp might hold an all camp theme dinner or theme night. At CTT there was a theme for the entire program: wild west / cowboys. Fun theme - hence the cow patterned neckers. Many people wore cowboy hats and had stick horses with them. They also had flags flying to signify the wild west. One was the American Flag. The other - well first I was told "we have the Texan flag up", then they said "that's the one with stars and bars - from the Dukes of Hazard, right?" uh. No. Yes that's correct the Confederate Flag was flying. I must admit I was less than thrilled. I was telling my friends Charlie and Vee why I had problems with it and they explained that everyone there thought of it as the "Dukes of Hazard" flag. I was amazed at how strongly I was opposed to it flying at the same level as the American flag -after all when I was a freshman in high school this was the flag of my high school. (that's a whole other story - quite a year it was as it was removed) heck the school I teach at now even used to have this flag as their school flag. I live in the south. I am not a stranger to seeing the Stars and Bars - but I really did not like it. I know that the flag was flown at CTT for completely different reasons.

At GS camp the girls come to camp and the leaders do not. Instead there are paid camp staff. I was part of that camp staff for many years - loved it! We worked our tails off and had as much (if not more) fun as the campers. At CTT the Guiders and Leaders come with their troops, but are not responsible for the activities. We are responsible for meals and campsite. That meant we had more time to relax. (relax at camp? Crazy isn't it!) We also did more of the cooking because girls had activities. So my day went like this:
Wake up, help cook breakfast, eat.
Girls to sign up for activities, we enjoy a cup of tea
Girls return, finish clean up.
Girls to activities, we straighten camp site, walk around watching activities, work on badges (yes - there were badges that even a leader could earn), talk to/ do crafts or badge work with girls who had a free period and well enjoy the time
Elevenses - we'd prepare a snack of squash (it's a punch), fruit and biscuits (cookies) for the girls
Girls off to activities, begin prepping lunch.
Cook and eat and clean up from lunch
Girls to activities - more relaxing etc as in the morning. Wander up to camp store for an ice cream
Cook and eat dinner, clean up
Head to main camp for flag lowering and announcements
Girls to evening activities
Evening activities for leaders (we had a pub on camp - seriously - with beer, wine and sodas. One night we had a trivia night at the pub - fun but the questions were all a bit easy!)
Good night!
Yes, quite an easy day for the leaders...... The staff ran everything.

In comparing. GS Camp with my experience at CTT, I am not saying that one is better than the other. I love camp and am so glad I had the opportunity to spend a few days at CTT!

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