Sunday, June 13, 2004

And now a brief musical interlude, in celebration of me surviving my first camping trip in 20 years. Cue the music!

At first I was aghast, I was horrified,
Kept thinkin' there's no way you'll ever make me sleep outside.
But then my daughter came to me and she said, "Mom, it's time to go."
Her hopeful smile, there was no way to say "no."

So now I'm here, Camp Germany,
There's a baker's-dozen Brownies and they're buzzin' all 'round me.
This one wants to take a hike,
That one wants to have some fun,
And I just want somebody else to wake me up when this is done.

All right, let's go, let's get it on!
Let's put those tents up, where the heck's my situpon?
The 'smores taste fine, and it's grand to be alive,
And I'm starting to believe that I just might survive.

Oh, yes, I did! I did survive!
I smell like smoke and froze my tail off, and I surely didn't thrive.
But I made it through the night, in fact, I lasted well past dawn.
I did survive, I did survive,
Hey, hey!

Yesterday morning Annabelle, Mike, and I met up with her Brownie troop at the Scout hut here on post and headed for our temporary home, high atop Koenigstuhl, which rises over 1800 feet above the city of Heidelberg. Mannheim and lower Heidelberg were bright and sunny, but as we drove up, up, up, we disappeared into the clouds. When we arrived at the campsite, the cold wet weather clued me in that we hadn't packed very well. Annabelle stayed with her troop to help set up camp while Mike and I made an emergency run back to Mannheim for heavier clothes and dry firewood.

When we returned to camp, the girls and other leaders had all the tents set up:

This handsome fellow welcomed us to the camping area and reminded us about the importance of environmentally friendly behavior:

We were just in time to enjoy lunch: hobo dinner, which is a foil packet of chicken and assorted veggies baked over a campfire or--in our case--a charcoal grill.

After lunch, the Brownies went to visit Märchen Paradies, which struck me as being a German version of South Carolina's infamously tacky South of the Border. Mike was naturally way too cool for the kiddie rides:

But Annabelle and her friends had fun:

That evening we huddled around the campfire, trying to stay warm, roasting hotdogs, and toasting marshmallows for 'smores. The smoke was rather intense, and we had a lively debate over whether saying "I like rabbits" could chase the smoke away from you:

Here's a picture of Annabelle bundled up by the fire:

Poor Mike was so cold that he completely lost his head:

We got the kids tucked into their tents between 10 and 11 p.m. All the Brownies congregated together in one tent, with the leader and the moms in another, and the dads and tag-along brothers in yet another 2. The other adults and I headed for bed a little after 11. As I crawled into my sleeping bag, the bitter cold reminded me of why I haven't camped in the past 20 years.

Somehow I did manage to drift off to sleep, but I was awakened at 3 a.m. by a shivering Annabelle. She burst into tears and said: "Th-th-this j-j-just isn't wh-wh-what I had in m-m-mind!" I grabbed her and tucked her into my bag next to me, and she promptly conked back out. I thought I'd never get back to sleep, but somehow I did, for the next thing I knew it was 7 o'clock, and one of the other Brownies was delivering a most obnoxious wakeup call from the next tent over.

We had a breakfast of apples and yogurt bars (and Slim Jims filched out of the secret food supply in my van), and then the girls had their flag ceremony. I don't know all the details, but I understand that this flag was sent to them from friends in Iraq:

After the flag ceremony, the girls did a Girl Scout circle where they each got their camp patches and got to say what they liked most and least about camping. Annabelle's best: hanging out in the tent with her friends. Her worst: the cold. Amen, little sister. Amen.

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