Saturday, April 24, 2010

Camping in the Present, Camping In The Past - Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts


My husband John posted a wonderful blog today with great detail about Justin's first weekend camping trip as a Boy Scout.  Although at times it seemed like a comedy of errors at least as far as John's first night sleeping went (sorry for the laughter, John), it has obviously been a great experience for both John and Justin.  They spent Friday afternoon and evening together.  John came back for most of day on Saturday and then went back around 6:00 p.m. to finish the evening and weekend with Justin.

I still do miss them lots!

Here is a link to John's Camping Trip blog with pictures.

John was nice enough to come home today during the day to give me a bit of a break and have a chance to take a warm shower and a few hour snooze.  Ryan has been sick with a cold and flu bug since Tuesday evening and he had a bit of a rough night.  He did well with me this evening and we played another few rounds of Eyeball as well as creating a new game called Tunnel Ball.  Ryan decided to erase everyone's licenses and stats on Mario Kart Wii to which I can only say, I'm SORRY, John & Justin! I only stepped away for a minute!

Ryan had a rough time going to bed tonight.  I'm not going to complain because I KNOW I will get more sleep in a warmer, cozier environment than John.  I'm sure when the boys get home on Sunday, they will be eager for a shower and some sleep. 

We're big Survivor Fans in this house and have watched every season since the beginning but suffice it to say that I would NEVER last out there.  John would.  I'm just not a mosquito or outhouse kinda gal.  My parents aren't either.  Although I love the outdoors and taking walks through nature, when it come to my bedtime, I'm spoiled by my comfy Sleep Number bed!

Of course when I was a kid, I did go camping a few times but always with groups.  My parents idea of camping was a nice trip to Lake Tahoe and staying in a nice cabin and going inner tubing or skiiing!  Hawaii wasn't a bad runner-up!  (Come to think of it, I still like the idea of those kinds of family "camping" trips!)

I was in Brownies and Girl Scouts for a number of years and do have mixed memories of a couple overnight adventures.  The one I remember the most is one I had looked forward to.  I can't remember the exact age although I'm thinking somewhere around 5th or 6th grade.  I'll have to ask my parents. I remember selling the most boxes of Girl Scout cookies in my troop and earning a free one week trip to Girl Scout Camp.

Here are visuals I remember from the trip:

Sleeping outside in a sleeping bag on a hill in some sort of wooded area. This was kind of interesting. I liked my sleeping bag and I liked the outside air.  I don't remember bugs.  I do remember staying up late and listening to crickets chirping and frogs ribbeting.

The outhouseI HATED THIS!!!!!  I was totally unprepared for the smell, feel and concept of outhouses. Not to be gross, but I think I must have held off having to go potty almost all week after my first venture there.  I don't remember holding it in being a difficult thing to do because I was so put off by the outhouse.  Of course being a picky eater, I don't remember eating much that week anyway.  It was my "junior" version of Survivor except no-one got voted out and I got to lose some weight!

Singing songs around the campfire, hearing ghost stories and doing little skits.  This was by far my favorite part and I still remember some of the songs to this day.  I also remember trying SMORES for the first time and really liking them. 

My impression is that when I was on this trip, I really didn't know anybody or hang out with anyone. I'm thinking there had to be girls from my troop there that I knew but for the life of me I can't remember.  I'm not sure if I was particularly upset by being a loner that but I remember being aware of it.  I think I might have attributed it to being an only child or "being shy" as other people had said this about me before.  The shyness thing I remember was really only true around my peers.  I was always fine with adults at that age as was evidenced by my cookie selling skills, although to be fair, who DOESN'T like Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies?

I'm pretty sure that I participated in most activities but I remember there was some sort of swimming thing and a place to change clothes and that kind of freaked me out.  I was very modest and never wanted to change clothes around other girls.  I definitely didn't want to be in a bathing suit because I was very insecure about my body.

Well, I didn't really mean to venture this far down memory lane but I'm going to leave this all here in my blog as I think reflecting on one of my first longer overnight outings and being able to look at it now from the viewpoint of having had undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome is pretty interesting. In retrospect, I'm actually pretty proud of myself for what I did.  I wonder if AS had been diagnosed back during that time if my parents might have sheltered me from such a trip thinking I might not have had the right social skills to participate. 

Although I did remember floundering in a number of areas, I am really glad I had the experience.  The nightly campfires were a lot of fun and something that I hope Justin had a chance to enjoy this evening as well.

I think if it were 2010 and I was doing the same thing (as a kid), having a mentor at camp to help me along would be useful.  I encourage parents out there with children on the spectrum to give them these types of experiences.  It's helpful to try and anticipate and remove obstacles but I do think in order for them to become more empowered, groups with good values like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts provide useful peer modeling, inclusiveness, the ability to gain new skills, make new friends and have the opportunity for positive experiences. 

Justin's first best friend he made through Cub Scouting and it changed his life! I really have to give huge props and love to my husband, John for that.  He was involved as Justin's Assistant Cub Scout Den Leader in 2nd grade and took on the challenging role of Cub Scout Den Leader for 3rd, 4th and the first half of 5th grade until Justin just recently transitioned into Boy Scouts.  Both Justin and John have come so far together and I am so proud.  John was an amazing leader and gave Justin the chance to do so many things he wouldn't have had the chance to ever do otherwise such as overnight trips on the USS Hornet and a submarine at OMSI, field nights at the ball park, camping and hikes to the Ape Caves, earning badges, patches and belt loops, completing his religious emblem award, tree planting, riding a horse, shooting a bow and arrow, shooting a BB gun, riding on a police boat, touring a jail, police station and fire station...  so many amazing and interesting opportunities and accomplishments!  Plus he made a couple close friends along the way and that really touched our hearts!!  

I look forward to a few years down the road when Ryan can be a Tiger Cub Scout.  Even though Ryan & Justin are on the autism spectrum, we highly encourage these opportunities.  There have been many many challenges along the way and we're sure there will be many more but is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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