A FAVORITE CAMPING TRIP by Cheryl Pierson

Growing up in Oklahoma, camping was not something we did as a family. My mom was not the “outdoorsy” type, and my dad worked in the oilfield, so his schedule was erratic. Many of my friends had been camping—but I had never gone. I didn’t count the times we went to our family reunion on Lake Texoma and rented a huge barracks-like building with men on one side, women on the other, and a massive kitchen and dining area in between. That was not “real” camping!

My camping debut finally came as an adult when I had my daughter’s Brownie troop dumped in my lap the day before we were all set to have our first meeting. The woman who had asked me to be a co-leader decided she was not up to being a leader, and told me if I didn’t take it over there were going to be 24 very disappointed little girls—including her own! I had never been a Girl Scout, never gone camping, never done any of the things that were “scouting” things—but what could I do?

Well…with a lot of misgivings, I agreed to be the leader if she would be the co-leader. Another mom also said she would be a co-leader. By the end of the first month, another mom stepped forward, Sherry, who knew “all things Girl Scout” and what a lifesaver she was!

One of our first Brownie meetings!

 

THE GIRL SCOUT LAW:

I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.

 

Here we are, having fun at Investiture–Jessica in the middle. Lots of great memories!

… Even though we were one tired Mommy and little brother!

 

I didn’t think I would like camping, but surprisingly, I did—we had so much fun. We went to a Girl Scout campground at Red Rock State Park in Oklahoma. There is a huge variety of things to do there, and the scenery is just beautiful. We had small cabins with cots, and brought all our own food in coolers.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: By taylorandayumi – OklahomaUploaded by Fredlyfish4, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23654296

The girls loved being outdoors in the crisp fall weather, and seeing such wonders as the changing colors of the tree leaves, learning about plants, the history of the park, and simple survival skills. We gathered firewood, and of course, we made S’mores that evening! We learned how to make “buddy burners” and cooked a meal on top of a metal coffee can!

Jessica taking her turn at sawing some firewood.

There are videos online that show different ways to make a “buddy burner” but ours was an empty tuna can with a coiled wick in it, under an inverted empty metal coffee can with a few holes punched in the side near the top to allow air to get to the tuna can that is burning. The top of the coffee can is like a stove burner—you can make two different kinds of breakfast on it: cook bacon first, so there’ll be drippings, and then you can make a) French toast, or b) scrambled eggs.

At Camp Red Rock–my Jessica, 3rd from left. We learned to always wear a cap–lots and lots of bugs!

I think we all ate more than we normally did because of the fresh air, and the novelty of being able to cook a meal on the buddy burners we had all made for ourselves!

But when we think of how our cowboy heroes had to camp “back in the day” without the amenities we had (a cooler, bacon in a package, eggs in a carton, and so on) it makes a person realize that camping out of necessity was not the fun, exciting time we had as a giggly group of elementary school girls and their leaders. It was the serious business of trying to survive.

We had a wonderful time—there was very little homesickness, as everyone was so busy all the time and the time flew by. Hubby and I don’t camp, but I was so grateful to have those times with my daughter, Jessica, and the girls in our Girl Scout troop! Thinking back on it, those were some of my favorite days.

Were you ever a Girl Scout? Whether you were a scout or not, do you have a favorite camping experience? Please share!

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
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42 thoughts on “A FAVORITE CAMPING TRIP by Cheryl Pierson”

  1. I was a late-bloomer – joined Girl Scouts in high school! We had an amazing camping trip – most of the memories have faded (that was a loong time ago!) but I remember it was memorable!

    Glad you and your kids have those memories.

    • Laura, better late than never! We didn’t have GS where I grew up, either, but we had “Campfire Girls” and I joined that for about 2 years–we did mainly crafty things, no camping or anything at that point. I think Girl Scouts is really a good thing and sure wish I had joined and had a troop all my growing up years. I missed out on that!

  2. I was never in girl scouts, but in Wyoming, lived 50 miles from a Girl Scout camp up in the Big Horn Mountains. I g ot to see Debbie Reynolds one year, as she flew into my town on her way up to the camp.
    Our camping was going to church camp every summer. Except one year my parents borrowed a tent camper, hitched it to our car with 5 kids( ages 18 month to 12) and we drive from Wyoming to St Loius, to visit my grandpa, and other family. We cooked over a camp stove for breakfast and dinner. Lunch was a sandwich. Coming from Wyoming, the further east, we were hit with the bugs and humidity. No AC in the car, so windows were down. When we finally got to St Louis, we were so glad to sleep inside, where it was cooler and no bugs. On the way home we stopped at the Eisenhower Presidential library, and Mount Rushmore. After that trip, the only camping was at church camp.

    • Oh, Veda, I remember those days of no a/c! We made the trip twice from Oklahoma to California to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins back in the very very early 60’s and of course I was the youngest so my sisters got the window seats and I had to sit in the middle (where the “hump” was in the floorboard) because my legs were shortest. LOL When we took our kids to West Virginia to visit my husband’s family out there, the humidity was a killer. We’d been away from it for so long, we’d forgotten! LOL I did go to church camp when I was younger, and that was a good experience, though it was really hot. Always in July or August in Oklahoma–of course, no a/c there either. LOL I have always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore. Maybe one of these days!

      • Church camp was in the mountains, so at night it got cold. But i loved going every year. Usually one of my.parents came to work, either in the kitchen or to be in charge of the crafts we did that week.
        I always had to sit in the middle, I was #3 of 5. And if I leaned to much forward my little brother got upset. On our trip, my parents made part of the back seat a bed for my little brothers. I spent a lit of time laying in the back window, I wasn’t to big yet. And my older siblings got to sit in the front. Now days the cars aren’t big enough to do that. We had a huge 1961 Buick Electra car. So it fit all of us nicely. Now days we would have to have a van.

        • Veda, I remember those days well! We usually had a big ol’ Chevy, and you are so right–those back seats were a dream, weren’t they? I, too, spent a lot of time up in the back window! LOL Mom and Dad always brought a cooler on those long trips and we ate a lot of sandwiches and chips, and drank a lot of water.

    • I wish my family had been more “into” camping. I felt like that would have been the greatest adventure, because I had so many friends who did it regularly.

  3. I was in Girl Scouts, but my family loved camping, so I was taught all my skills from my parents. We also had a deer camp and we truly were outdoor camping. I learned how to cook over an open fire. Nothing tastes better than food cooked outdoors. Us kids also would go into the woods and make our own little camps with make believe fire pits and of course make mud pies & get different types of vegetation and pretend that was our veggies. Oh I wished I could go back to those innocent times when no cell phones or devices were present. Our imaginations we had were priceless.

    • How fun, Tonya! What great memories! Kids can always come up with some way to imagine and have fun, can’t they? And how neat that your family did a lot of camping. You were very lucky. I know those days are some of YOUR favorites, for sure!

  4. I was never a Girl Scout.

    My family went camping. When i was real little it was in a tent, but that soon turned to a small travel trailer. We camped so many years in that. Cooking on grills and a camp stove. A few times, Dad brought some C-rations from the National Guard. And we made them military-style.

    It was a crazy time.

    • That sounds like so much fun. It was so hard for my dad to ever get away and do anything with the family because of his job–we was on call 24/7 and of course, that was way before cellphones! I’m so glad you had some great memories of camping days, Denise. Those are a treasure!

  5. I was a Brownie and was really looking forward to being a Girl Scout, but it just never happened after we moved to Texas. My mother decided to focus on something for my youngest sister instead. I have only been camping once and it was when I was a little girl and went with a friend’s family. All I remember from it was there was a pool at the camp ground and we got to go swimming. We stayed in a camper, not a tent or cabin.

    • Janine, that is too bad it happened that way! Well, as you can see from these pictures, my son was an “honorary scout” because I couldn’t have done this if I hadn’t brought him with me to the meetings and so on. When we did our camping excursions, my parents would come up and stay at my house so they could take care of Casey. Hubby was not much of a cook, and Casey always looked forward to seeing “Nonnie and Papa” so it was something that was special for him, too, while I was doing something special for Jessica. For many years, I felt like the kids and I lived in our car going from one practice to the next for sports, or one activity to the next, like scouting things, karate, and so on. It sounds like your camping experience was enjoyable and very memorable, though!

  6. I didn’t do Girl Scouts, but my dad was a Boy Scout leader which led to our family doing a lot of camping trips as he attended various trainings and such. I love camping, though it’s harder on my body than it used to be.

    • Well, I couldn’t go camping now if I wanted to, I don’t think. LOL I love my own bed too much and it’s so hard for me to sleep some nights anyhow. How cool that your dad was a Boy Scout Leader and at least you did get to do a lot of camping! Very neat, Jess!

  7. Yes I was a Girl Scout – sold the cookies and all – and YES we camped a lot during my youth and at the fair when my kids were in 4-H – ALWAYS in a camper!

    • Teresa, I wanted to be in 4-H sooooo badly when I was growing up. I’ve always loved animals, but of course, we lived in town (small as the town was) and I had no experience with bigger animals. So that was definitely out for me. I took piano lessons and dance lessons, and did those 2 years of Campfire, but always wished I could do something more “likeable” for me. Sounds like you really made the most of your years as a Girl Scout AND your kids’ days in 4-H. That’s fantastic!

  8. I never was a girl scout and didn’t do much camping. I am sure I did some camping when I was a small girl and just don’t remember much about it because my dad was man that liked to fish a lot.

    • My dad was not much of an outdoorsman–probably because he had to work in all kinds of weather for his job in the oilfield and was just glad to be home when he could. I bet you did do some camping when you were young. We forget so much from those early years. My parents took a lot of super 8 movies and I have a ton of slides that all need to be transferred over to dvd, but when? LOL I would love to get that done, because I know there are things that would jog my memory on there.

  9. I’ve never had the opportunity to be a girl scout. Raised by a single mom of 6 children things were tough. But one we went to the Button Bay State Park in Vermont and slept in a lean-to. Of course it rained the whole time there. We didn’t have much but I remember putting up a tent in the back yard and having a couple of girlfriends over for the weekend. I now have a RV my husband and I have been camping in for the summer. It is now time to pack up and go home for the campground closes on Oct 1st. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story.

    • Goodness, Charlene. Your mom is a heroine to me! I cannot even imagine raising 6 kids alone. But we do what we have to do, don’t we, and even though we don’t always have much at times in our lives, those are the times when love and family really are the glue that holds everything together, I believe. I’m glad you and your hubby have the joy of being able to travel and live in your RV! My hubby and I have talked about doing that, but I’m afraid we are now too old and set in our ways. That must be wonderful, though. Thanks for stopping by!

    • It was the same for me, Estella. This was all during the 60’s-70’s for me, my growing up years, and by that time, my mom was involved with my two sisters who were 10 and 12 when I was born–so by the time I was 8 they were both gone to college and one was making marriage plans. While I was younger, of course, they were in all kinds of high school activities and my mom made many of our clothes and costumes for whatever was needed in school productions for them, etc. I think by the time I was old enough to be a GS, Mom was really tired. LOL She was 35 when she had me, and I think she was just glad there was a park near the house and a gaggle of neighborhood kids for me to play with. We didn’t have GS in our town.

    • Mine, either, Caryl. I always thought GS would be so cool, but our town was small and no one wanted to be a leader, I guess. My mom had been a leader for my sisters’ troop when they were younger, but that was in a different town and it was somewhat larger. I love that GS teaches service to others, a quality that is often overlooked in these times.

  10. I was never in girl scouts, but loved your story, Cheryl. We went camping as kids and it was always on the banks of the Pecos river. It was there that I first tasted coffee. I loved the smell of it and I talked my dad into letting me try it. 🙂 The rest is history! 🙂

    • Hi Jan! So glad you dropped by today! You made me laugh about first tasting coffee. I love the smell of it, but never did acquire the taste for it. I wish I had! Life would be a lot simpler! LOL I bet you have some wonderful memories of those days, for sure!

  11. I was never in the girl scouts. I don’t recall that any of my friends were, either, though. One of my sisters was a brownie, but that was as far as she went.

    • I was so glad I did that with Jessica, though at the time, it was one of the roughest times of my life. The lady who had been the driving force behind getting the troop together suddenly decided the night before we were to have our first meeting that she was not going to be a leader after all because her husband had told her it would be taking too much time away from “the family”–so she called me and told me that unless I was agreeable to being the leader that we could not have a troop. I had just found out earlier that weekend that my stepson had been killed in a car accident. Though I worried about becoming a “leader” since I had no working knowledge of what that would entail, truly, I had been reading up on it and getting ready to be a co-leader, so I knew SOME things, enough for the first meeting anyhow! We made it through and it was truly a time of personal growth for me, too. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

      • I have a friend that became a leader because her girls wanted to get involved, and the only way they could was for her to become a leader. They didn’t have enough leaders for all the girls that wanted to join! I think that’s kind of a good problem!

        • It is, in a way, but it’s another example of “it takes a village” because you can feel so overwhelmed when you have 20+ girls (I had 26 in my troop) and there’s only one of you! LOL If you have one or two helpers, it makes it a lot more enjoyable and you don’t feel like you’re holding up the world. One thing I did learn from Sherry, the mom who knew all things scouting–you can make snacks out of a can of frosting and a package of graham crackers. I kept those on hand for YEARS once I learned that, because there were times people forgot it was their turn to bring snacks. LOL

  12. Im so glad that you had that experience. I was a girl scout for two months. It got very political and pulled the girls into it all so my mom pulled me out. I was glad. I grew up camping. Even after we got married. Our son was in cub scouts and boy scouts and they did a lot of camping. Our son loved to eat and when the other boys couldn’t cook or not burn the food he took over as cook. My husband had him teach the other boys one at a time and he enjoyed it much more. We learned early on that he is a teacher at heart. Our daughter would not join brownies because all they did were crafts. She became the scouts mascot.. She couldn’t go on the camping trips but she helped them with knots etc. My husband was the scout master and I was advancement chairman so of course our daughter came with. Good thing she was a tomboy.

    • Lori, I truly did love those years as a leader, and it was a true case of me being thrown into something I knew nothing about but I knew if my daughter was going to get to be in scouting it was up to me. Soon, I had other moms who were willing to help however they could, too. What a BLESSING. Yes, I experienced some of that political stuff, but thankfully, not much, because Sherry, the helper mom who knew all about scouting had seen it all before and knew just how to stop a lot of it. Everything worked pretty smoothly for the most part. But how cool that you still got to be involved in camping, and that your daughter learned so much about “real” camping. Crafts are fun, but there are a LOT of other life skills to learn and that was our focus. The girls were so proud of themselves. They even have DAISIES now (before Brownies) so the very young ones can join early on! LOL

  13. I was a Brownie for about a month before my family decided it wouldn’t work. Not sure why. When I was in high school, we had a cabin on a lake and spent lots of time there, but that really isn’t camping. I slept in some interesting conditions while in the Peace Corps (including the floor of a communal shower in Singapore), but again not really camping in our sense of the word. The first year we were married, we really camped. My husband’s uncle gave us a pup tent he had stored in his attic for years. After our first night camping, in the Maine woods, we crawled out of the tent, looked at each other, and started laughing. We were both green. The tent had been in the attic for so long it had dry rotted. The green coating on it had disintegrated and “rained” down upon us all night. Needless to say we didn’t use that tent again. We had a 1972 Land Rover – think the Hatari movie with John Wayne – with a rack on top. My husband built a platform on the rack, put two sockets to screw in to for poles, and had two poles with a cross piece. We put a tarp across it with tie downs and had a tent. I couldn’t climb up on to the hood today to get into it, but we were much younger then. With an air mattress and sleeping bags, it worked perfectly. Too bad we didn’t get a patent for the idea. I have noticed similar things coming out the past few years. We were 45 years ahead of the times.

    I did become a Girl Scout leader when our girls started and stayed as such through their Senior Scout years. I became Service Unit Leader for years afterwards and was on the Gold Award Committee. I was active over 10 years after the Girls were done, and was also a Cub Scout leader and volunteered in other capacities with Boy Scouts.

    • We did camp with our children. We started with a tent, moved to a pop-up camper, and now we have an RV. At our age, we are way past sleeping on the ground or plywood. We also need electricity for a C-PAP. I really like the convenience of being able to have what you need with you and being able to stop when and pretty much where you want.

    • WOW PATRICIA! You are a true camper! I love your stories about all the places you’ve been and the things you’ve done. I can travel vicariously with you! LOL (And am glad it’s vicarious when I hear about the green dry-rot!) LOL What a smart idea with the Land Rover and the rack. That is PERFECT. Yes, you should have patented it, but who knew? And what a lot of great memories you must have over the years, not only from your own camping days, no matter where they were (the floor of the shower made me sit up and take notice!) or whether they were with your kids. I think scouting is such a great thing for kids. It teaches them so much in so many areas of life.

  14. I was never a Girl Scout. When are now 2 adult children who have children of their own, we would always take them camping in the summer. It was alot of fun and they loved it. One of the times when we went camping we were fast asleep in our tent and it got really windy and it started raining pretty hard, well, we had to get in our vehicle and slept the rest of the night in it. Next morning we set up the tent back up and we had a good time for a couple more days, thank goodness we didn’t get rained out again.

    • Oh my gosh, Alicia! That’s a great memory…NOW! But at the time, probably not so much. Seems like something always happens like that, doesn’t it? I remember when we took a vacation to Florida–actually, hubby had to go there for 3 weeks for something job-related, so we drove out there with the kids who were, at that time, around 15 and 12. We decided to take one of those air-boat tours of a swampy, everglade area with a guy who looked like he belonged in ZZ Top. I did not have a good feeling about going, but they were on the “list” of attractions nearby, so we went. We got way far out in the water and suddenly it began to rain–it blew up all of a sudden. The guy’s name was “Wes” and he turned the boat around and you talk about a ride like we never had experienced before! LOL We were flying across that water. He told us it was dangerous to be out there because of lightning strikes, so we had to get back ASAP and by the time we made it back we were totally drenched from the rain. That rain was so heavy and thick it actually hurt! Stung like little pellets. We had one lonely beach towel in the back seat which the kids spread out and sat on, and Gary and I were just wet all the way back to the condo. LOL We laugh so hard about that now, but at the time I have to admit, I was scared to be flying across that water like we did. I remember looking back at my husband and my daughter from where I was sitting and she was having the time of her life. LOL

  15. I was a Brownie but we moved before I could make it to be a full-fledged Girl Scout. My family did a lot of camping as I grew up. We started out with a tent and sleeping bags and eventually moved up to a travel trailer.
    My favorite camping trip was when we spent a week camping at Eljmont n the Smilies near Gatlinburg. Our campaign was on the banks of a mountain stream that sang us to sleep each night after miles of hiking trails each day. This was long before the area became so commercialized.

    • Oh, we stayed in Gatlinburg one night on one of our trips when I was a kid! I had forgotten that. I can’t remember where we were headed, but I remember thinking how beautiful it was there. We stayed in a place that had little individual cabins, I remember and there was a creek nearby. This would have been back in the 60’s, so I imagine we were on our way from Oklahoma out to Cherry Point, NC, to visit my sister and bro-in-law who was in the Marines at the time. I’d forgotten all about that until you mentioned it. It was “kinda” like camping to me, because of the little cabins and the stream/woods nearby. A beautiful place.

      I’m sure you must have a lot of great camping memories. I think a travel trailer would definitely be the way I would have to go, now. LOL I’m too stiff to get up off the ground from a sleeping bag. LOL Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m loving reading everyone’s memories!

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