Monday, January 24, 2011

be prepared

Judith's Facebook post of last night  is about a "Girl Scout weekend at Pilgrim Pines," where "the beds were hard, the food was bad, and we all had a wonderful time ...!" Reading this brought back a flood of memories.

Pilgrim Pines was my [ Congregational ] church camp back in the 50's, but Singing Pines was my Girl Scout camp. This made me wonder why Judith and her daughters would go farther away (north of Yucaipa rather than north of La Cañada) to a less secular venue. It was easy to find an answer, but not so easy to process the new knowledge.

From Singing Pines' Facebook page, I learned that it was a Girl Scout camp "from the 1940's until 1993," and that about half the facilities were lost in the 'Station' fire of 2009. The horse corral survived, but the swimming pool did not. I have not yet been able to watch the entire video. It's the Bambi story as a documentary, made much sadder by the recollection of hiking beside the very stream it shows.

My idyllic two-week stays at Singing Pines were in the summers of 1951 and 1952. We made friends, ate mediocre food (many thought they were trying to kill us with war-surplus powdered eggs), sang loud (I got to play an autoharp accompaniment sometimes), did crafts, wrote letters home, learned how to act around rattlesnakes, and saved water obsessively.

Outhouses were the most obvious and drastic water-saving devices. Each of us had a little enameled dishpan into which we'd pump water for hand-washing and tooth-brushing. I loved my collapsible drinking cup. It was aluminum, not plastic.

A daily swim was essential to personal hygiene, while providing an opportunity to save even more water. When we were ready to climb out of the pool, we had to wring out any wring-able parts of our swimsuits. In those days, most swimsuits had cute little skirts or 'boy-shorts' legs, plus bows or ruffles anywhere (across the bust or even the shoulders). A staff member was there to make sure we were well wrung, and to lecture us on how much water was saved by this laborious process. How proud she would be of my current rainwater harvesting and laundry-water salvaging!

One day while walking at Singing Pines, I was stunned when Wendy knocked me off the trail yelling "Snake!" I looked to the right as I fell to the left, and saw a rattlesnake uncoiling into the underbrush. We had first aid kits with sharp blades and big suction cups for treating snakebite, and I was greatly relieved not to have to use them. Maybe I feared the first aid more than the snake.

Away from our families for two weeks at a time, we learned independence at Singing Pines, but possibly we learned even more about friendship and cooperation.

I'm glad Girl Scouts are still being prepared, and I thank Judith for sending me down the Pilgrim/Singing Pines' trails.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License