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Camping Out!

Several tents, including our mansion in the middle, at the American Heritage Girls campsite.

Several tents, including our mansion in the middle, at the American Heritage Girls campsite.

Spent another weekend (mostly) off the grid. My wife and I joined our kids on a camping trip to Camp Boddie in Blounts Creek, North Carolina. The nights were cold, even freezing, but the daytime weather was beautiful and overall we enjoyed a wonderful weekend.

The entire family joined in this trip because it was a joint trip between my daughter’s American Heritage Girl troop and my son’s Boy Scout troop though the two groups camped in separate campsites. We arrived a bit before dark on Friday night, trying to get tents set up before daylight disappeared. Unfortunately we didn’t quite make it and so had to finish getting things ready by lantern-light.

Once the sun went down, the temperature dropped quickly. It was a cold night around a small fire, before crawling into the sleeping bags. With the temperatures so low, I kept myself snuggled deep under my sleeping bag, but I kept waking up, alternating between keeping my face under cover, and poking it out into the cool air until my nose got too cold to bear it any longer. Heard one or more owls hooting through the night as I woke up, and occasionally heard Maggie, the camp dog, barking and chasing animals away from the campsites.

Jane Marie working on her knife skills and fire building.

Jane Marie working on her knife skills and fire building.

Saturday was a series of outdoor skill classes run by the Boy Scouts for the American Heritage Girls. The Scouts taught sessions on: fire building, first aid, knife safety, trail signs, Leave No Trace, and orienteering. The American Heritage Girls troop is less than a year old, so most of them don’t have a lot of camping and outdoor experience, and so these skills were new to many of them.

Saturday evening consisted of a campfire near the waters of the Pamlico Sound. The evening started with a series of songs and skits. Some were educational, others fun, and some…well some were flat out silly. It was an hour for laughter and song, but when it was over, the evening’s activities took a more somber note as the two groups held a ceremony to retire two U.S. flags.

Steven Paul reading his troop's version of "I am Old Glory" while Jane Marie helps retire the flag in the background.

Steven Paul reading his troop’s version of “I am Old Glory” while Jane Marie helps retire the flag in the background.

While I’d heard about the Boy Scout flag retirements before, this was the first time I’d seen the ceremony. The ceremony impressed me, not only because my son and daughter both took part, but because this group of young people handled the transition wonderfully. The two groups were quiet and respectful during the ceremony and left the area in silent reflection.

Another campfire already burned back at the campsite, and so before bed there was time to roast a few marshmallows and make s’mores. Though cold, Saturday night temperatures didn’t get quite as cool as Friday night, and I slept beautifully.

Maggie, the camp mascot, keeping an eye on things during Sunday's religious service.

Maggie, the camp mascot, keeping an eye on things during Sunday’s religious service.

The AHG leader had to wake me up in time for a quick breakfast of fresh fruit and muffins. Breakfast was followed by another waterside ceremony; several of the American Heritage Girls held an interdenominational religious service, and then it was time to pack up and head home.

If you’d given me a choice on Friday, I might have backed out of the trip based on the weather forecast, but in the end the entire family had a great experience, one I am sure we will look back at with great warmth and fondness.

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2 comments on “Camping Out!

  1. Does sound like a very enjoyable weekend, apart from the cold. How often will these happen over the / your winter? Thanks for sharing.

    • My son will go camping about once per month. For me, it just depends. I try to let him go on most of his Boy Scout camping trips without me. I feel it lets him be himself a bit more, and when I am there I feel like he tends to want to stay close to me instead of spending time with the other Scouts. But I’m almost always available in case the Scouts need an additional adult to go along.

      Daughter and wife are going camping again next weekend with the Girl Scouts. Normally I would join them, but I’m going with my son to a Robotics competition all day the Saturday they’ll be camping.

      So a whole family trip like that is rare. First time it has happened in several years. I will probably camp 1 or 2 more times with the Boy Scouts between now and June though.

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