When I wake, it is to the sound of the stream rushing past my tent, to the sunlight filtering through the opening, to the birds singing their early song high up in the trees. It’s cold up here at the moment, the heat of the Californian summer arrives late in the mountains. When I exhale slowly, I can see the heat of my breath condensing in the crisp air, and in the dark of my tent I feel like a dragon, waking up from hibernation in my cave. Do dragons hibernate? I reach behind my head into my pillowcase. A few days ago I started keeping my clothes there so that they’re warm when I put them on the next day, it makes getting up in the morning so much easier. I stay in my sleeping bag whilst I change, prolonging the inevitable time where I have to leave its comfort to face the day. Eventually I can’t put it off any longer, and I swing my legs out of their padded prison and slip on my already filthy trainers. I throw on an extra jumper and leave the tent, squinting in the bright sunlight.
I make my way down the hill to the Sierra Biffy, which is used by those staying in the Morning Sun and Big Boulder units. There, I cross paths with many of the people I’ve already come to consider friends at camp, and we swap brief greetings. Most of us would still rather be in bed. I wash my face, brush my teeth and try and make my hair look a little less like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards, all the while keeping an eye out for the snake that we’ve been told lives here. We crowd around the trough sink outside, mentally checking off everything we need because Chip, our Camp Director, will be annoyed should we forget anything. Staff manual? Check. Pen? Check. Water bottle, timetable, a spare jumper for the chilly dining hall? Check, check, check.
The first task of the day is the raising of the flag. We all meet at the flagpole which is behind the main campfire circle. Several volunteers form the colour guard and raise the flag, whilst we stand silent and respectful around the campfire circle. Once the flag is raised, the American councillors recite the Pledge of Allegience. This notion still amazes me every time I hear it. I feel like I’m witnessing some sort of cult meeting. Immediately afterwards we all say the Girl Scout Promise, which I’m still learning as it’s different from the Girl Guide one I am familiar with, but I’ll get there. We then, in solemn formation, leave the circle and make our way to ‘Singing Steps’.
‘Singing Steps’ are so named because we stand in front of the staircase leading upstairs to the camp office. Here, we spend ten minutes singing camp songs until breakfast is called. I’m gradually learning the names, words and actions of the songs, although there are so many that I couldn’t possibly learn them all. My favourites are The Princess Pat and Rattling Bog – I highly suggest looking them up and having a jam because there’s nothing better to lift you up when in a bad mood than a camp song. Singing seems like the last thing you’d want to do first thing in the morning, but it’s great for waking you up and getting some aerobic exercise to work up an appetite before breakfast. Sure enough, after five or six song run-throughs, Captain, the kitchen manager, rings the bell to signal the serving of breakfast.
But breakfast is not coming just yet. When we are seated at the tables in the dining hall, several councillors stand up on the fireplace in the middle of the hall. They lead us in a ‘meal starter’ song such as The Addams Family which goes:
We thank you world for giving
The food we need for living,
For family, food and friendship
We thank you world today.
Once this is complete, the selected councillors lead us in ‘Show Me Your Best’. This is used to decide which table deserves to go up to get breakfast first, and could be anything from ‘show me your best Girl Scout roasting a marshmallow’ to ‘a T-Rex trying to tie his shoelaces’. There is lots of noise and laughter and it’s the best activity to get everyone involved in the camp spirit. Once my table has been called, we head up for breakfast. This morning it’s chocolate chip pancakes, which is a step up from yesterday, which was biscuits in gravy. They’re sort of like flatter versions of scones, in a creamy, sausage gravy. I didn’t hate it, but it’s definitely not something I would choose for breakfast.
Breakfast ends any time between 8.30am and 8.45am, and we then prepare for our activities beginning at 9am. The mornings run smoothly currently, however I’m not sure how easy they’re going to be when we add 80 children into the mix!