All photos in this post were taken by my nine-year-old daughter, Delaney (except the photo of her with her newfound camping friend).
This spring and summer I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and learning about, the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas summer camps and their flexible Pathways Program, which allows girls to participate in their activities and opportunities without joining a troop. In exchange for sharing with you here, on San Antonio Mom Blogs, about these camps (which I’ve learned first-hand, are wonderful, leadership-based, and extremely affordable), the Girl Scouts provided my daughter with free camp experiences.
Delaney’s been to Camp Metro, Camp La Jita, and Camp Mirasol. She’s made new friends, learned how to bake at the Sweet Treats camp, how to build things at the Handy Gals and Hammers camp, and how to care for and ride horses at the Saddle Up camp. These experiences were her introduction to Girl Scouts and now she’s even thinking about joining a troop this school year.
Most recently she returned from her first time away from us at a weeklong, overnight camp. Before she left for Camp La Jita, the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas resident camp near Utopia, Texas, I really wasn’t sure how it would go.
I’d love to be a fly on that cabin wall the first night when it’s pitch black outside and she’s being serenaded by the various woodsy sounds that surround her out there,” I told my husband.
Delaney isn’t currently in a Girl Scout troop and she’d never camped outside before. She’s also never been away from home for more than one night. Would her independent spirit carry her easily through this new experience? Or would we receive tearful phone calls from our girl, begging us to pick her up in Utopia, Texas, a full two hours away from home?
This could totally go either way – she’ll either love it or she’ll hate it.”
As it turned out, Delaney LOVED Camp La Jita. We never knew she was a natural camper (where she got those genes from, we have NO idea as her dad and I are, by nature, lovers of indoor activities and air-conditioning). Her streak of fierce independence definitely helped. I’m pretty sure a huge perk of going away was getting a break from mom and dad nagging her and her little brother waking her up way too early on summer mornings.
At camp, she was responsible for herself and she got to do her own thing in her own, unique style. Not only did she have fun and make lots of friends, but she also thrived while trying new things (horseback riding, canoeing, hiking, cooking out). Camp La Jita instilled in her a strong sense of personal responsibility while she helped out around camp and made important contributions to her new community.
Space is still available at camps during the next two weeks at Camp La Jita, Camp Metro, and Camp Mirasol. Check out this guide with camp schedules and information and consider registering your daughter. Who knows? It could change her life.
And now, who better to hear from about her Camp La Jita experience than Delaney herself? In her own (unedited) words, here are:
Delaney’s Top Five Tips for First Time Campers
- First night
Try to get a good rest the first night. Because you’re going to wake up bright and early and have loads of fun!
- Waking up
After the first night you usually wake up at like, 7:18 a.m. so you can go swimming!
- If you’re sad
If you miss your parents it’s best you don’t read their notes. They might make you sadder.
Most nights bugs will find their way through a hole in your cabin. But don’t kill snakes, scorpions, or wolf spiders. Wolf spiders eat other spiders. If you see a snake or a scorpion, tell a counselor. The first time you see a scorpion, tell the counselor. But not the second time (because then you know how to kill it because you’ve watched the counselor). Tell a counselor or CIT (counselor-in-training) if you see a snake. Never kill a snake on your own. You will most likely never see a snake.
- Being a hopper
If you are asked to be a hopper in the morning before getting dressed, and have no idea what it means, a hopper is a group of girls who set the table, get water in a pitcher, and wait for food. Yum! You also clear the table. Your group does this only once a week.
My Experience at Camp La Jita, by Delaney
The first night I went to bed at 2:00 in the morning! Because a girl in my cabin was crying and we could not get to bed! When she stopped crying, we could not get to bed! We finally went to bed and got some rest. When we woke up we got dressed and went to the barn.
Somethings that you will need to remember to put in you’re day pack are: sunscreen, bug spray, towel, swimsuit, goggles (optional), and a hat.
So I loved to go polar bear swimming in the morning. Polar bear swimming is when the water in the pool is freezing brrrrrrrr! You have to jump in with you’re WHOLE group. You don’t have to go polar bear swimming. You can sit out on a bench. Anyway…you will have a lot of fun! Just like me.
For more about Girl Scout summer camps, visit our earlier posts: