Daughter caught up in camping

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

No air conditioning, television or any other creature comforts.

What you do have is a lot of fresh air. You also have a ton of trees, weeds and other assorted shrubbery I can't name. And plenty of bugs.

But for Girl Scouts like our daughter, Bailey, nothing beats the outdoors.

She and her friend, Carly, are spending most of this week at Cherokee Ridge, the sprawling Girl Scout camp in Wayne County.

It's next to Sam A. Baker State Park, but it's a lot more rustic.

The Girl Scout camp makes most church camps seem like four-star hotels.

But Bailey couldn't be happier. She still talks about her last camp adventure when she had to execute a few spiders that crawled into their sleeping quarters.

This time, she'll be in the saddle riding the camp horses.

Shortly after we arrived at camp Sunday, Bailey was already in her element. When Joni and I got ready to leave, she barely had time to say goodbye. She was too busy planning her adventure.

Some girls get homesick. But not Bailey. She's a camp fan.

I'm not sure where she got this camping gene.

Joni and I never warmed up to camping. We prefer a five-story hotel with air conditioning to a rustic cabin where there's little more than a roof over your head and your bed is a sleeping bag.

Our older daughter, Becca, isn't the camping type either. She prefers to camp out at the mall rather than in the great outdoors.

But Bailey is different. Never mind the pollen, she likes the outdoors.

She'd stay outside all summer if she could. Bugs don't bother her.

I view rocks as just part of the landscape. Bailey views them as collector's items.

Even Southeast Missouri's humid, hot summers don't deter her enjoyment of Mother Nature.

She's already set to return for another Girl Scout camping activity later this summer.

Like other scouts, Bailey and Carly showed up with a ton of stuff. You would have thought they were preparing to camp out for a month or more.

The pioneers had fewer possessions when they headed west in their covered wagons than today's modern Girl Scouts.

Going to Scout camp is a lot like going on a family vacation only with more sun screen and bug spray. You pack a lot of clothes and other items even though you probably won't need them all.

Still, it's better to be prepared. The Girl Scout office offers plenty of advice on what to bring.

Naturally, I left the packing to Joni and Bailey. Like a lot of dads, I would have left out half the stuff.

But then I grew up in a St. Louis suburb. I'm programmed to go buy something when I need it and not before.

That doesn't work as well when you're in the wilds of Wayne County where stores are few and far between.

It's hard to phone home, too. Cellular phones don't work well in this environment.

That would never do for teenagers. Becca and her friends rely on cell phones for everyday conversation. Without them, they would feel lost.

Thankfully, Joni and I weren't lost in Wayne County. We knew our way back to civilization, convenience-store snack and all.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer at the Southeast Missourian.

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