As we are preparing for our annual spring camp, I can’t help but think back to the first time I went to Brownie Camp as a leader. I was a Junior Leader in our Unit for two years before I became a full-fledged leader. When the two main leaders left for university before the start of the year, and then the third leader moved for work a month in, I found myself and my best friend looking at each other saying “We can do this!” And we did, but it was a learning experience to say the least.
Now, this post is meant to be about organizing or cleaning, and I will get to that, but I just wanted to share a couple of “learned tips & tricks” for Brownie level camping:
1. Always bring an extra (or two, or three) pair(s) of mittens and hats. Inevitably, one girl will forget hers, and you’ll be left with just the hood from your jacket.
2. Never, ever serve juice/hot chocolate right before bedtime. We arrived late and were rushing the kids to finish their snacks before bed. Well, you can guess what happened. We had to hang a couple of sleeping bags outside that weekend.
3. If the girls seem “too quiet”, check in on them. Trust your gut.
In addition to these fun facts, I also learned that you have to bring your own dish towels to Ontario Girl Guide camps. Believe it or not, I forgot two years in a row, and vowed that I never would again! I bought a Rubbermaid container that was designated specifically for camp. Every time we go camping, I wash the j-cloths and dish towels, and put them right back in the container. I even have a note on top to remind me, in case I “borrow” them for some reason or another.
Be sure to make a list of items for camp (not just a kit list, this one is for you), and add to it from your own experiences. Ask seasoned campers what they bring, too, so that you make sure you cover your bases. I also use this container to hold non-perishable food for the next camp (we tend to go twice a year).
Lastly, my best friend and I firmly believe that girls of all ages should participate in the clean-up. When I was a Brownie, we were all assigned duties to help around the camp. The primary categories were: Cooking, Set-Up/Clean-Up, Dishes and Sani (you may have additional duties based on the size of your group). However, Christina (my partner in crime) always leads Sani. And wouldn’t you know it, by the end of the weekend the girls are begging to clean toilets! She makes it fun, and helps them recognize that it is often the quickest chore on the list. However, most parents will tell us that their children don’t help out around the home, and are shocked to find out the responsibilities they carry at camp – but this is how they learn! It really doesn’t matter if the apples aren’t sliced neatly, or if you have to assist them in scraping off their dishes into the slop bucket. What matters is that they are developing skills, self-esteem and independence.
How do you manage chores at camp?
By guest blogger Liz Voce. Liz is a Professional Organizer in the Toronto area. She stays busy (but very organized) running her company Sort It. Read her previous posts on our GirlGuidesCANblog: The Crafty Cluttered Guider, and Guiding Someone Through ‘Collecting’ Versus ‘Hoarding’.
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Reblogged this on Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area and commented:
My 3rd guest blog post for the Girl Guides of Canada. What have your experiences been when camping with kids?
We always bring colouring sheets & markers for first thing in the morning. We instruct the girls that if they wake up early, they may go & colour but they MUST be quiet & not wake any of the other girls. Usually all the girls are up by the time I rise (for some reason, my other leaders let me sleep in – u’d think I was cranky in the am or something??).
LOL. Yes, we try to have the girls keep quiet as well. It doesn’t work all that well for us, though 🙂 They’re just too excited!
Our girls wash ALL the dishes – even leader dishes – with the one exception being the very sharp knives or heavy pans (my daughter and I are Brownie leaders). That is the deal – there are things that we can do that they can’t and so there are things that they can do in exchange because camp is about sharing…. chores included… We set up the sinks/basins and put some of the dishes away but they do all the rest.
We also have an ‘it goes to every camp and sleep over’ bin – markers, crayons, blank paper, scissors, glue, tape, blue tack, string, balls, skipping ropes, zippy bags (great for that necklace or ring or whatever other jewelry didn’t get left at home!) and empty ‘grocery bags’ or kitchen catcher size bags – awesome for wet clothes/towels/leaky water bottles – you name it….oh and we also have hair elastics for that long hair that just somehow for got to get tied back!
Thanks for sharing Cathryn! 🙂
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Very good tips for people who are new with camping. Girls especially at the Sparks and Brownies age can be a little bit nervous or quiet when they are brought into a new situation that they may not be used to. Being at unit meetings and day adventures is a lot different than being away from their parents for the weekend.
Below are some suggestions that might help:
1) Talk with one of the outgoing girls in your group, and see if they would be able to encourage the girls who might be a little bit more shy, or feeling insecure. Sometimes you will find that this will help to establish more rapport. It is great when leaders come up, but it is good to try and establish either rapport and friendships between the girls, and sometimes this will make them feel a little bit more secure if they know that their peers are willing to accept them.
2) When having them pack their gear for camp, allow them to bring one of their favorite stuffed animals or something that is comfortable to them. I know with some of the camps that I was at when I was younger allowed this.
Be supportive, and listen to the girls fears, and be willing to offer some help to them if required!